Wednesday, November 28, 2012


The proceedings from the House of Confusion yesterday certainly caused a few moments of levity for me this evening. Flipping through the debates, ministerial statements and questions is part of my evening routine.

In times past, I would have binders of dust gathering white clad House of Assembly proceedings cluttering my shelves. These days everything is available on-line.

The best line from yesterday’s back and forth had to be former police officer turned Progressive Conservative MHA Paul Davis who said the Confederation"centerpiece of Newfoundland democracy for generations."

The Minister of Transportation and Works was replying to questions from the official opposition about the costs of the much needed renovations to the Confederation Building. Davis was justifying the cost overruns associated with the re-bricking and replacement of the buildings windows.

The Opposition were questioning how much more expensive it was to go with blue tinted windows. The project is already $30 million over the original estimated cost!

The upkeep, maintenance and modernization of the province’s public buildings is costly. That does not come as a surprise to anyone. The replacement of all window systems and repair of the masonry was overdue.

The real story is not the blue tint or the diversion of funds that could be invested in food banks. To me the real story is the inability to forecast the cost of capital projects. If the government can not estimate, budget and deliver on a facelift of the Confederation Building – how can the public have any confidence in the numbers they are providing for the $10 Billion Muskrat Falls project.

Cost overruns of 250 or 25%, depending on what one considers the original estimates for the facelift, give credence to concerns about the governments inability to accurately deliver capital projects.

I have no qualms at all with expending $50 million of taxpayers money on the maintenance, preservation and enhancement of the Confederation building. It will be money well spent that will ensure the longevity of the building and save millions in heating costs.

However, I do have issues with the undemocratic process by which this government is foisting the $10 Billion Muskrat Falls Project on us.

Centerpiece of Newfoundland democracy indeed!


Anonymous said...

Not sure how you get $10B?

Also, comparing the capital works run by government in the normal way, and that following project management best practices by those that have spent their careers doing such is a little bit like comparing an apple and a bananna. Yes, both are fruit. Yes, both have peels. But they are different.

Peter L. Whittle said...

Tell yea what, lets exchange information and when this project is completed if the cost is not over $10 Billion, I'll pay your light bill for a month!

Project management best practices endorsed by MHI whose project managers who claim to have followed the same processes for the Wuswatkim project which was budgeted at $900 million, but wound up costing $1.69 billion!

Just a little off the mark! Just goes to prove, apple to apple, that skilled professionals can still make bad decisions with the best of intentions.

Thanks for the low hanging fruit...send me a challenge next time.

Heres to a blue Christmas

Anonymous said...

No challenge intended. Merely a question and pointing out that comparing the overspending on the hill and on a mega-project is completely different.

I just wonder what formula you use to get to $10B? The oft quoted "50% over)", wouldn't land you on $10B, so I just wonder what particular insight you have?

I fully agree that professionals of any sort can make mistakes. It happens all the time. However, the processes and procedures used by the likes of the Project Management team at Nalcor - like other projects such at the Vale Smelter, White-Rose (original & extensions), etc. - are more robust than that used within tyupical government processes.

The PM processes, by the way, were endorsed by many more than MHI - worldwide experts have indicated that the processes in use on this project are top-tier, exceeding industry standards.