Design mishaps boost school work cost

Mechanical, electrical and plumbing work at additional classrooms at North Side district’s Edna Moyle Primary School went nearly 30 percent over budget largely due to design flaws, the Legislative Assembly heard last week. 

The initial contract for the work was for $13,900, Education Minister Tara Rivers said in response to a parliamentary question from the district’s representative, MLA Ezzard Miller. However, an additional $4,086 was spent to correct difficulties with the initial design. 

Mr. Miller asked whether designs for the project were disapproved initially by the Planning Department and the Building Control Unit because the contractor “forgot” to design in two of the three basins for the building that houses the two new classrooms. 

Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts confirmed a portion of the additional sum was “in relation to what they had to do to fix their original plans.” Mr. Tibbetts said he could not immediately state whether all of the cost overrun was due to design errors. 

“They will not be paid for the mistakes that they made,” Mr. Tibbetts said. 

Mr. Miller asked whether government might consider employing its own mechanical, electrical and plumbing staff “in house” at the Public Works Department. Currently, the government contracts out all such projects to private sector companies and typically acts as the project overseer or manager. 

“From where I sit, the answer is not quite that easy,” Mr. Tibbetts said. 

The planning minister said government would have to consider the need to permanently employ what would likely be a significant number of staff against the current need to “hold the line” on overall hiring in the civil service with “the whole world speaking to contracting out stuff.” 

Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said the contract for less than $18,000 was not huge, but it seemed that “a lot of problems had gone on here.” 

Mr. Tibbetts said he would discuss the project issues with the Public Works Department. 

Mr. Tibbetts

Mr. Tibbetts
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  1. Mr. Miller’s query regarding hiring PWD staff as presumably a solution to this type of problem is as humorous as it is predictable. For anyone who has observed Government for a minute or two knows how that scenario would play out. It would go like this. The design flaws would still be present. The PWD staff duly carry out the work complete with the flaws except at twice the cost of the private sector contract. Government doesn’t know this since Government doesn’t keep any reliable accounts. After exhaustive study, review and questions in the LA designed to attack political adversaries but in no way fix the flaws, nothing is eventually done and no one is ever held to account because no one in Government ever is. The children of Edna Moyle Primary then attend a school in a flawed, substandard building for the rest of time. The responsible PWD staff member continues to complete flawed, substandard , erroneous work because civil servants can’t be fired until perhaps he makes the most egregious error of all, crossing an elected member of Government. At which time, citing his previous deficient work and ineptitude, he is placed on administrative leave and sent home to collect his full pay without ever again striking a lick until retirement. When he then collects his full Government pension and enjoys free health care for himself and his dependents until death. The End.

    To the Editor: I do understand that you reserve the right to edit comments. However, should you feel that edits are necessary, I would request that you not publish the edited comment.

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  2. What a brilliant summary Mr Mactaggart, a bit too close to reality I fear.
    If you missed one element out it might have run:
    The Government auditor draws attention to the flawed procedures for procurement, and the lack of proper accounting. His report is submerged in due process for several years, until he gives up in despair and after his departure, prominent opposition MLA”s blame him for even mentioning the issue.

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