Worked 'in isolation' on blowout project

Clare Hadley.
Clare Hadley.
A report from Invercargill City Council chief executive Clare Hadley states a former council employee worked "in isolation" on a building project which has escalated in price.

Mrs Hadley advised councillors on December 4 of a $4.5million budget blowout attached to the construction of the council-owned Don St business-house complex.

That $4.5million blowout was made public last week.

Under the Official Information Act the Invercargill City Council has provided the Otago Daily Times with Mrs Hadley's report, which was presented to councillors in a public-excluded session at the December 4 finance and policy meeting.

The report provides more information on the trail of events, which has left ratepayers with an unexpected bill to pay.

It stated the council's former finance and services manager led the project, with little input from council staff who had the required knowledge and technical skills.

Dean Johnston was the finance and corporate services director until his resignation in September following 15 years at the council.

"Management and oversight of the project was primarily undertaken by the then director of corporate services," Mrs Hadley stated in the report.

"This included the scoping, procurement, tendering and project management, design and lease negotiations of the overall project.

"Other council officers were involved on an irregular basis, with access to limited information.

"This approach had the unfortunate effect of the project being carried out in isolation of the council.

"Many arrangements are only now coming to light following the resignation of the director.

"Council staff with the knowledge and technical skills that would have been valuable were not involved.

"This resulted in the project failing to achieve the overall objectives outlined at the start of the project."

Councillors had approved $11.9million for the project in 2015.

However the building, which was opened in October last year, would now cost ratepayers $16.4million.

The budget blowout was on the back of a bigger building than planned being built, and also the fact the council had only been able to attract 66% occupancy despite budgeting for 100%.

The revelation angered councillors, who said they had not previously been made aware of an increase in the size of the building and added costs.

Mr Johnston was not unable to be reached for comment.


 

Comments

So Mr Johnston was allowed to change the scope and build a bigger building than planned. No supervision, no questions.
Someone did a business case that said there was lots of demand for the originally planned building. Who was that? Surely not Mr Johnston on his own.
Ms Hadley failed to manage Mr Johnston and then sat on the issue from September until December. Maybe she was just hoping to rent more space so the building isn't such a white elephant!
Ms Hadley has failed on many levels here. When is she resigning? Or has she just forgone any performance bonuses for the next couple of years?

You can't manage isolationists who decide for everyone.

Based on this story, your call for Ms Hadley's resignation is ridiculous.

Those working for ratepayers must realise they're not in private enterprise.

 

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