[To review and comment upon the content of the Wolverhampton Interchange (Train Station) – Lessons Learned report]
Keith Ireland, Managing Director presented the second of three reports he had commissioned from Audit Services on a lessons learned review on three capital projects. The issues within this report on Wolverhampton Interchange (Train Station) project were more complex than the first report considered by the Committee. It was a complex capital project involving multiple players and the Council was not managing it on its own. This made it all complicated.
The Managing Director supported by the Strategic Executive Board and other senior officers of the Council responded to the Committees questions and observations, the details of which are summarised as follows and should be read in conjunction with the detail in the lessons learned report.
Excluding the change in contractor, what were the reasons for the increased costs?
· Appendix A to the lesson learned report sets out the timeline of key events of the scheme and its changes. The contract for the railway station demolition/ reconstruction was awarded to the contractor in early 2018.
· All railway station schemes are delivered to a Governance for Railway Investment Projects (GRIP) process. There are eight distinct stages to the process for how railway station projects would be managed and controlled by Network Rail. At GRIP stage 1 the project costs would be guestimates. We probably went too early regarding the cost of the programme. A contractor has now been appointed and we have a clearly defined railway station scheme.
Are you confident that the contractor is robust enough to complete the project?
· Yes. Projects of this type are complex and risky and extremely difficult to manage. As a result, you need to go into it with clear detailed planning. It is not a standard construction project
The report appears to raise and some concerns in paragraphs 4.1.9 and 4.7.1 of the report with Supplier M
· The statements at paragraph 4.1.9 of the report were not representative of the current state of the project and the contractor.
(It was therefore agreed that the Auditor following discussions with the Programme Co-ordinator and the Director of Commercial Services submit a short report to clarify the issueregarding paragraphs 4.1.9 and 4.7.1 of the report suggests some concerns with Supplier M)
What was Corporate Procurement’s involvement in the process for the procurement of a contractor at the time and what will it be in the future?
It was also a complex capital project involving multiple parties and the Council was not managing it ourselves. This made it complicated. Procurement had not been involved in theprocess for the procurement of a contractor because it was a railway station project and was part of a wider agreement with ION. It was for them to deliver the contractor for the delivery of the project. The lessons learned report now set out Corporate Procurement’s role in future on all reports to Cabinet for all internally or externally procured projects.
‘QRA’ in the table at paragraph 3.1.2;
· QRA was a technical issue of how we looked at individual risk analysis.
· Ground investigations were undertaken at an early stage of the project. There is a good understanding of the ground conditions. There are a number of site investigation tests we need to undertake and present as evidence to Network Rail.
Plans for the car park?
· The plans for the car park include a pick up and drop point that improves on the current layout. However it is a constrained site. We wish we could make it better but cannot do this in the short term
Control the Council has over the expenditure increase and to stop it happening again?
· The Council was undertaking a joint venture and having involvement with ION. The Council had delivered big construction projects. It does not happen that these types of projects do not sometimes have major issues.
Whether more accurate information or better contingencies are required before getting approval of capital budgets;
· There is a good contingency now for the scheme. Some of it would be spent but we can live within that contingency. The unresolved issue is when we go public with the cost figures.
How can the Committee gain assurance that all of the checks that come on a risk have been dealt with in a comprehensive way; and that someone has a handle on where the Local Authority stands on the project at any particular time?
· In terms of the level of control the Council has over the project, the Government arrangement for management of these types of scheme has been updated. Regular meetings take place with ION on their work programme so we are confident once the drawings are approved by Network Rail we will be in a good position.
· The Council had delivered hundreds of projects successfully, so it has a track record. With this programme you can expect it may incur more costs. The dilemma is when should Senior Management release to members the cost figure for a project.
1. That the lessons learned action plan be received.
2. That the Committee oversee the implementation of the lessons learned action plan over the next 12 months and to receive a quarterly update report on progress with implementing the lessons learned.
3. That the actions taken to date be supported which include:
a To improve programme and project management
b. To ensure better financial modelling
4. That the Managing Director’s decision to make the report an open report to ensure maximum transparency be noted.
5. That Ian Cotterill, following discussions with Subeagh Singh and Andy Moran submit a short report to clarify the issue on paragraph 4.1.7 of the lessons learned report.