Most of you are aware of the challenges the City has faced in managing a few of its projects. We’ve reviewed our staffing, reporting, and process procedures here at the City and I thought I’d review some of these changes with you:
Staffing: Although it was discussed at the August 2015 Audit Committee meeting, there wasn’t a lot of coverage about personnel changes within the leadership positions of the Transportation Department, which have had the most issues on some fairly high profile projects (Metro Line, Groat Road Bridge and Walterdale Bridge). In that August meeting, the former General Manager of Transportation, who started with the City in September 2013, told the Audit Committee that since he became GM, 70% of the personnel in those leadership positions within the Transportation Department have changed for a number of reasons.
Reporting: Another critical change is something that should have been the case back in 2009/10 when the Metro Line contract was approved and work started: written reporting. The audit showed that far too much of the critical reporting was verbal and therefore was rarely making it to the previous GM of Transportation let alone the City Manager or City Council. This was changed back in late 2013 which is why Council started getting regular updates on the progress on the Metro Line. Administration wasn’t the only group to change reporting. City Council made a change so that we would have quarterly updates on all Capital projects that are $20 million and more, along with a few critical projects that fall below that $20 million mark. Since this report comes to Council at our regular meetings, everyone can see it, including the media.
Process: We have made some further changes to better streamline our project management. Using our existing staffing resources we have reorganized our project management into one single department (Integrated Infrastructure Services) rather than having each department responsible for their own project management. Many years ago the City used to have a Chief Engineer and this new department is the modern day equivalent of that. This new department should provide greater oversight to our Capital projects.
Outcomes in 2015: Many of you have asked if these changes have made a difference. Although I’d encourage you to refer to the full report available on the City of Edmonton’s website, let me provide you with a brief summary on Capital projects within the City:
88% of the 92 projects listed are on or ahead of schedule.
96.7% of the 92 projects listed are on or under budget.
No matter how many personnel, process, or reporting changes are made, it is unlikely we will be perfect on every single project. The purpose of those changes is to minimize the opportunity for mistakes to be made and if they are made, to ensure everyone, including the public, is made well aware of any issues and what is being done to resolve them.
Co-authored by Andrew Knack and Kasey Machin