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City auditor releases first report on Portland Building reconstruction project

January 5, 2017

 

Download the complete report here.

 

The city auditor's office released the first of their planned reports on the Portland Building reconstruction project and identified areas for continued attention as the project advances – primarily the scope of the project and decision-making. Decision-making is an area the city identified as a risk before the project’s authorization and it remains a risk.

 

The city has begun work to reconstruct the landmark Portland Building. Built in 1981, the Portland Building has a long history of water leaks. After reviewing different options, the city chose to reconstruct the building to address the exterior and additional concerns about seismic resiliency, workplace interiors and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

 

In October 2015, city council directed the Office of Management and Finance to begin contracting for the design, construction and temporary relocation needed for the project.


The reconstruction project is years away from completion, but – because of the project’s high-profile, complexity and cost – an early audit can contribute to the accountability and oversight environment. Any recommendations for improvements are less costly now than if the city identified issues later.

The city made choices during this planning phase that will make its upcoming design phase decisions particularly significant. For example, the city is using a new approach to meet the complexities of this project. Given the project’s early status and the city’s approach, aspects of the project remain fluid until formally set later during the design phase.

 

The report offers observations for six key project areas, within two broader categories:

 

Project management constraints: Using a project management framework, there are three interrelated project constraints – scope, budget and schedule. Since council has already set fixed limits on budget and schedule, any needed adjustments will be made to the project scope. As a result, scope remains a pivotal aspect of the project that has yet to be defined.

 

Public accountability challenges: The city has made a variety of commitments about the project and three areas are highlighted – equity, compliance and decision-making – that may present particular challenges. Each challenge can impact the overall project, but the decision-making area is the most crucial to the project’s success.

 

Download the complete report here.

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