Wednesday 21 August 2019

€67m overrun on third-level building projects pushes cost to €350m

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Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The State spending watchdog has raised questions about the capacity of third-level colleges to manage large building projects after hearing of cost overruns totalling €67m.

A combined bill for 10 projects was €350m - 24pc higher than estimated, according to a Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) report.

The C&AG selected the 10 projects for review because they incurred significant overruns in time - between one and 45 months - and costs.

According to the report, while most of the colleges involved have learned lessons, "it is unclear if these learning outcomes are shared across the sector".

Under-estimation at the tender stage of the costs involved was one of the main causes of overruns, accounting for €20m of the total. The most common issue at contract execution stage was changes to the scope of the projects with "in some cases, ambiguous and incomplete project documents" contributing to disputes.

Nine projects ended up in a dispute resolution process and one institute incurred fees of €3.3m in relation to resolving contractual disputes.

Three of the projects were in NUI Galway (NUIG), which included research buildings, the budget for which overran by €15.7m to €60m.

A new engineering building at NUIG finished €5.4m over budget, at €32.3m, while a sports complex cost €18.8m, €2.1m above budget.

At University College Dublin, the bill for a student facility was €35.5m, €9.1m - 34pc - above budget.

Trinity College Dublin's Biomedical Sciences Institute cost €91.6m, involving an overrun of €16.7m.

A campus development programme at Dublin City University (DCU) cost €36.3m, €4m above budget.

At Athlone Institute of Technology, construction of an engineering building cost €30.3m, €4.6m above budget, while the cost overrun on a sports building was €2.2m, bringing the bill to €9.5m.

The University of Limerick's Graduate Entry Medical School (GEMS) building cost €21m, €4.5m above budget, and its Irish World Academy of Music and Dance ran to €14.8m, €2.9m over budget.

In the case of the NUIG research buildings, the DCU campus development and the Limerick GEMS project, the C&AG notes that the overruns are net of recoupment of performance bonds.

Irish Independent

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