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Infastructure

Alberta Infrastructure — Fort McMurray Residential Facility-Based Care Centre (Willow Square) Project Management

Report of the Auditor General — February 2020
 

Alberta Infrastructure collaborates with other government departments to design and build government-owned infrastructure, health facilities and schools.

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Alberta Infrastructure aims to deliver innovative and responsible infrastructure to meet current and future needs.
One of its key strategies is to continuously improve planning, project management, and procurement to deliver infrastructure on time, on budget, and to specification.
 

As of June 2018, Alberta Infrastructure was delivering 20 health facility projects with a total approved project budget of about $5.4 billion. The health facility portfolio was the largest that Alberta Infrastructure was managing, and the health facility projects varied in size and complexity.

We focused our audit on one project – the Fort McMurray Residential Facility-Based Care Centre (Willow Square) – as it was a large capital project and one of few health facility projects nearing the completion of the design phase when we started our audit.

Because research shows that planning is associated with a project’s success, our audit focused on Alberta Infrastructure’s project management systems for the planning and design phases of Willow Square. We did not audit the construction phase of Willow Square.

When completed, Willow Square will be a multi-story facility in Fort McMurray with room for 144 beds, offering various levels of supportive living, long-term care and palliative care.

Alberta Infrastructure used a fixed-price contract with the contractor who was designing and building Willow Square. It also included a schedule penalty in the contract. The fixed-price contract and schedule penalty are strategies to reduce Alberta Infrastructure’s risk of cost overruns and delays.

As of November 2019, Alberta Infrastructure had approved a construction completion date of December 2019 with the contractor, about two months later than the originally scheduled date of September 2019. Alberta Infrastructure also expected to be within budget.

We found Alberta Infrastructure had adequate project management systems to manage the planning and design of Willow Square; however, it can improve certain project management processes and project performance measures.

Alberta Infrastructure has made several improvements to its project management systems in recent months, including:

  • developing new tools to help ensure project deliverables are completed and approved timely and documentation is maintained
  • enhancing its tools for risk management, financial management, schedule management and the project charter
  • clarifying expectations on financial management controls and project documentation with project teams
  • implementing additional project monitoring and oversight controls

We expect Alberta Infrastructure can apply the learnings from this audit to other capital projects it manages. Key learnings include the importance of adequate planning, including the development of a project management plan early in the life of the project and controls to ensure project teams follow the plan. The recommendations made on this audit, when implemented, will improve Alberta Infrastructure’s project management processes and project performance measurement system for its portfolio of capital projects.

 
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