26 September 2023

Audit flushed over Acton waterfront

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A performance audit into ACT Government Agencies’ management of procurement and contracting activities in the Acton Waterfront Project has found it to be ‘ineffective’.

In his report Procurement and Contracting Activities for the Acton Waterfront Project, Auditor-General, Michael Harris said his audit sought to assist with a wider understanding of how construction of the Acton Waterfront Project had been procured and assessed and whether the Land Development Agency and City Renewal Authority’s administration of the procurement had been effective.

“It does not assess whether the project’s overall outcome represents value for money for the ACT Government and community,” Mr Harris said.

He said that in 2014, the construction work was expected to cost $28 million and be completed by October 2016 but by the time the contract was executed 11 months later (November 2015), the project’s scope had been significantly reduced.

“The revised project at the time of contract execution was expected to cost $9 million,” Mr Harris said.

“By February 2018 two thirds of the revised scope of works identified in the executed contract had been completed for a Contract Price that had increased to $13.6 million,” he said.

“Further work not within the scope of the executed contract but within the scope of the original Request for Tender (RFT) has since been agreed, and by September 2020 the Contract Price had increased to $46.8 million for what is approximately two thirds of the works identified in the original RFT.”

Mr Harris said publicly available information on the procurement and contracting activities of the Project was limited.

“The Land Development Agency and City Renewal Authority have not provided sufficient information to support public transparency in the delivery of this important and prominent project,” the Auditor-General said.

“ACT Government Agencies’ management of the procurement and contract in the period 2014 to 2020 has been ineffective,” he said.

“The 2014 RFT was poorly designed and did not provide an adequate basis for the execution of the $9 million design and construct contract that eventuated 11 months later.”

Mr Harris said that following the execution of the Contract, the Land Development Agency varied the Contract with insufficient regard to value for money considerations; and on its assumption of the Contract on 1 July 2017, the City Renewal Authority did not robustly assess the risks of continuing with the Contract against alternative options.

The Auditor-General made seven recommendations to improve Government Agencies’ prospects of securing value for money from procurement and contracting activities.

His 143-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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