This week’s Auditor General’s report on the delays and cost overruns on the Bluenose II retrofit sounds so familiar.
The provincial AG’s finger-pointing came just days after Halifax’s auditor general criticized the poor planning, cost-overruns and delays in building the Washmill Lake bypass on Highway 102. Halifax’s AG blamed a run to grab matching Federal funds, poor planning and lack of communication for a $4 million project’s cost to quadruple to $16 million.
The Bluenose retrofit was budgeted at $14.4 million, but has so far consumed $20 million and could yet cost $25 million before it’s finished, two years behind schedule.
The provincial AG says the Bluenose budget was not realistic and that the project was doomed because it was handled by a department with almost no capital project experience.
This is exactly what his predecessor said of the handling of the new Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro. The budget for construction of the new hospital was $104 million. When it finally opened, two years late, it cost $184 million! The Auditor General concluded the original budget was insufficient and the local health authority had no experience in large construction projects.
The definition of crazy is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.
Project after project in this province come in over-budget and behind schedule. There are no consequences for those who habitually make mistakes. Instead, we continue along the same decision-making path, ensuring those in power are protected from any responsibility or consequences for failure.
This is worrisome for the future of Nova Scotia health care. We are on the cusp of a major reform, but front-line workers, medical retirees and others involved in health care wonder how anything can change if we fail to recruit new blood to the executive ranks. The comment has been made that we are shifting old thinking to new chairs. Cynics suggest that for some there is no upside to success. If the realigned system works, that’s an indictment on how health care has been managed. If the realigned system fails, then the executives get to deflect the failure on to politicians.
For the preservation of politicians and patients we need success. Our recent history is not comforting.