PracticeAuditAuditor general slams Holyrood project

Auditor general slams Holyrood project

Weak financial controls, poor risk management and a failure to project manage effectively were the root causes of the 20-month delay and £220m cost overspend that has blighted the new Scottish parliament building.

In a damning report on the Holyrood project published this morning, Scottish auditor general Bob Black said that while the £431m project had been unusually complex and appeared to have been finished to a high standard, there were a number significant management failures.

Black said the Holyrood project lacked a single point of leadership and control where decisions could be taken about how to balance time, cost and quality as part of the client decision-making process.

The failure to agree a cost plan also contributed. Furthermore the project’s managers and the client did not use normal budgetary control procedures to ‘allow a balanced consideration of affordability, quality and time in the decision-making process’.

The project’s financial reporting was not always comprehensive or systematic, Black also found, while risk management procedures did not follow good practice.

And there was not enough done to control expenditure on consultants either. There were attempts to limit exposure to increases in consultants’ fees in 2003, but ‘this was very late in the programme, after the fees had increased significantly’, said Black. The auditor general also found fault with the ‘construction management’ method of procurement used. It is not a technique that is widely used in the public sector, he added.

However much of the cause of the delay to the was because of the production of detailed design variations and the late supply of information during the construction process. The main reasons for construction cost increases after 2000 were design development and delay in the construction process, suggesting that the parliament had eventually got the building that it wanted.

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