Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Audit required

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The circumstances surrounding the construction of the new police headquarters in the former Canada Post building must be the subject of a special audit, rather than folded into a general audit of civic property deals over the last five or 10 years.

As the facts come out in dribs and drabs, it's clear there were some serious errors and omissions in the way the construction project unfolded.

The much-ballyhooed maximum guaranteed price turned out to be a sham because it was based on an incomplete design and subject to further increases, yet no one on council, including Mayor Sam Katz, was aware of this glaring gap in the process.

The city has been told by its auditors in the past it needed to improve the way it managed complex projects but the police headquarters file suggests nothing was learned. There are also concerns about the way the city awarded a property-management contract for the office tower attached to the postal building.

Some civic administrators, including former CAO Phil Sheegl, have questions to answer, but so does the mayor and council, which does not seem to have performed its oversight role.

The purpose of a special audit is not merely to fix blame and assign responsibility, but to prevent similar debacles from happening in the future.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 14, 2013 A12

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