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New policy would require city projects to stick to quarterly reporting

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The finance committee is proposing a city policy that requires civic officials adhere to a comprehensive quarterly reporting schedule on major projects.

Russ Wyatt, chairman of the committee, said the requirement for quarterly status reports on capital projects of $10 million or more is not a council policy, but only a directive or standard that the administration doesn’t always comply with.

Wyatt said administration’s failure to comply with the directive has been singled out in this week’s KPMG audit into the construction of the police headquarters project.

Wyatt said the directive for quarterly reports was adopted by council following an audit in 1999 into the construction of the Norwood Bridge, but added it’s only sometimes followed by administration.

"We make it policy, then it’s there from here on in… and it can only be reversed by council," Wyatt said.

Included in the proposals is a requirement the policy apply to individual projects within a larger plan that combined add up to $10 million or more; and the preparation of filing of reports will be triggered when projects are approved by council. Right now, the reports are only sometimes done when construction starts.

The Ernst & Young audit into the fire hall replacement program noted the overall project for four fire halls was broken up into four, smaller projects where contracts were less than $10 million.

Wyatt said council approved a massive, city-wide public library upgrade that exceeds $20 million, but there are no status reports for any of the individual library projects.

The civic administration was chastised this morning for failing to submit quarterly reports on several major construction projects by resident David Sanders, a retired provincial deputy minister who regularly attends council and committee meetings.

Sanders said the city can spend millions of dollars on preparation and design work before construction begins, adding councillors need to be kept informed on these developments.

Chief Financial officer Mike Ruta said the status reports aren’t missing — they don’t exist.

Ruta said administration is only required to submit the reports when construction starts and that hasn’t happened yet.

Wyatt said he wants council to adopt the measures as policy at the meeting in September, so they are in place before the next council assumes office.

"By having these quarterly reports at finance committee, it brings that level of accountability that drills down through into the organization on major reports," Wyatt said.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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Updated on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 3:56 PM CDT: full writethru

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