12/03/2008Second phase of project more effective than first, says Auditor General for Wales
The National Assembly for Wales' new building, the Senedd, was delivered broadly on time, cost and quality once the project was re-started in 2002, according to a new report by the Auditor General for Wales. It found that, overall the Assembly Government and the project team did a good job and met set objectives. Although the completion of the Senedd was six months later than initially planned, mainly because of Information and Communications and Technology (ICT) problems, this delay had no adverse consequences for the operations of the National Assembly. The final outturn cost of the project was £70 million, against the revised estimate of £66 million.
Today's report, The Senedd, examined whether the Assembly Government had managed the procurement well after the project had restarted. The first phase, from 1997 to 2001, was beset with well-publicised problems - involving rising costs and time delays. These increases were the main reason behind the Assembly Government's decision to terminate the employment of the architect - the Richard Rogers Partnership. The first phase of the project has previously been examined in two Auditor General for Wales reports.
The second phase of the project was launched in 2002 - with a deadline of August 2005. However, the new Senedd building was completed in February 2006, some six months later than planned. This was mainly due to ICT problems, such as delays in developing the detailed specification that was needed, and the fact that Merlin, the Assembly's new ICT system, was being procured at the same time.
The Assembly Government learned lessons from the first phase and from other major public construction projects - such as the Scottish Parliament building and City Hall in London. It took time to plan a way forward and, on the advice of property and construction experts, the Assembly Government adopted a fixed price design and build procurement route. It selected a Taylor Woodrow-led consortium (which included the Richard Rogers Partnership) to construct the Senedd. The Assembly Government also introduced a new project management and governance structure.
The report makes a number of recommendations for future procurement and building projects. These include:
The Auditor General, Jeremy Colman, said today:
"This is a success story. The second phase of the project to build the Senedd clearly benefited from lessons learned in the first. New processes, tighter financial forecasting and better project management resulted in the successful delivery of the National Assembly's Cardiff headquarters. I hope my recommendations will ensure that these important lessons will influence future similar projects."
Notes to Editors: