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Late and over-budget: Auditor General’s assessment of Owen Roberts redevelopment project

The Owen Roberts redevelopment project will cost the public purse 20% more than planned and will be delivered later than expected.

On Monday (21 January) Auditor General Sue Winspear released the figure as she made her report on the project public.

The progress report was originally prepared for the Public Accounts Committee last August, but she said it was not released to the public due to commercial sensitivities.

Ms. Winspear said she had chosen to release the report now, in order to best serve the public’s interest. However, the 24-page report had several paragraphs redacted.

She explained there were still risks to the project because the airport remains incomplete, but she has judged them to be significantly reduced at this time.

As per appraisals in August 2018, the airport project was estimated to cost $64.37 million, almost 20% more than the contracted price tag of $51.9 million.

That works out at around $10.5 million more than budgeted.

In going through the project, Ms. Winspear pointed out almost $5 million of these extra costs were down to additions made after contracts had been signed.

This includes the addition of hurricane-rated glass and canopies.

In the report, she also cited delays to the project’s completion, which was originally planned for March 2018.

And as for who carries the responsibility for those errors, Ms. Winspear’s report singled out RS&H, the project’s lead consultant.

Sub-consultants complained of poor communication and critical information was not updated or presented to senior management or the project steering group.

A lack of on-site project administration was also listed as a major part of why the project is where it is today.

She concludes this was the first project to be completed through the Major Projects Office and advised the CIAA and Government to ensure the project is evaluated when finished, so lessons could be shared that may be relevant to further projects.

The redactions in the report are said to be necessary to avoid risking the project’s successful completion, including the final bill.

A paragraph relating to conclusions about that lead consultant’s weak performance along with revised estimates for the project’s costs are the two areas Ms. Winspear said must be kept under wraps at this stage.

The Ministry of Tourism released its response later on Monday (21 January.)

In its response, the Ministry acknowledged the OAG’s report findings.

Some of the increased costs were explained as important to “enhance safety, efficiency and comfort for users.”

Ministry of Tourism Chief Officer Stan Bodden noted that the Board was aware such improvements would extend the project’s time frame, but the “use of critical areas such as the Customs and Immigration halls would not be delayed by the enhancements.”

As to costs, CIAA CEO Albert Anderson explained:

“… funds were available to cover the improvements requested. Given that no borrowing was undertaken and there has been no impact to the public purse, the Board considers the enhancements to be reasonable and warranted.”

Funding for the project came from Government’s CI $15 million injection, with the remainder from the CIAA’s Passenger Facility Charge.

ORIA_Terminal_Redevelopment_Final_Report_Jan2019

About the author

Caroline James

Caroline James

Caroline joined Cayman 27 in September 2018 after seven years working for Sky News in London, both as a Producer on the World News programme and, latterly, as News Editor on the Foreign Desk, where she led coverage on the ground of stories as diverse as the 2016 US Election, corruption allegations surrounding FIFA and The Oscars. Before this, she worked as a Producer for Associated Press Television News (APTN) for two years, based in their London headquarters. Caroline graduated with a BA Hons degree in Arabic, French and German from Durham University, before gaining an MA in Television Journalism with distinction at City University, London. When not hunting down stories in Cayman, she can be found playing tennis, practicing Bikram yoga or enjoying a beer on Seven Mile Beach. You can reach Caroline at carolinejames@hurleysmedia.ky or 326-2243.

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