Langley Township is making adjustments to the way it manages bigger projects after an audit of its largest-ever project suggested a number of changes to tighten controls.
A review of the $35.38 million East Langley Water Supply (ELWS) project by Gordon Ruth, the Auditor General for Local Government (AGLG), found “gaps in the Township’s approach to managing water supply infrastructure.”
Made public Tuesday, March 24th, it was part of a performance audit that looked at how the Township manages its assets and the construction and implementation of its drinking water supply infrastructure.
While the ELWS project to bring water from the Greater Vancouver Water District to the Aldergrove area was completed in 2016 below projected costs, it was behind schedule and there was no baseline budget, Ruth noted.
Among other things, Ruth’s report said the Township did not prepare or approve a baseline project schedule, did not formally appoint a project board to oversee the management of the ELWS project and “did not have a policy that defined the governance and oversight requirements of high-risk or high-value capital projects.”
Ruth was critical of the process used to award the project, saying it “was not clear or well documented” and allowed a bidder to amend its proposal submission, while other bidders were not given the same opportunity.
As well, the review found the Township “did not have a documented procedure to evaluate whether it had sufficient staff resources available with the appropriate experience, training and available time to manage a project effectively.”
It also found “weaknesses” in the Township procurement policy.
READ ALSO: East Langley water line behind schedule
Ruth’s performance audit report made 16 recommendations, mostly relating to the development of capital project management policies and procedures.
His report called for closer management of big projects, including developing “a policy and procedure that outlines the process for development, approval, management and reporting of budgets for capital projects.”
It should, Ruth said, include guidance on developing and managing financial contingencies, establishing baseline budgets, engagement of external cost consultants, minimum standards for cost reporting and financial control procedures.
“As well as noting the township’s successes, our report identifies areas where they have opportunity to improve. It’s our hope that this will be helpful as they continue to enhance their project management processes,” Ruth said.
A previous audit report, released in August 2019, focused on whether the township had an adequate governance structure to support the provision of clean and safe drinking water, manage its supplies to meet current and future demand, and ensure the safety and reliability of its drinking water.
In response to a Langley Advance Times request for comment, the Township provided an unsigned email that said the report findings “confirmed the Township’s commitment to ensuring that our drinking water infrastructure will be able to meet current and future demand.”
It went on to say many of the recommendations “were initiated by Township staff prior to the completion of the audit, and are either underway, planned, or subject to budget and resource availability.”
Among the changes listed by a Township action plan in response to the report are a regular review and update of the municipal procurement policy and “developing and expanding internal procedures for projects of size and/or complexity that exceed a pre-determined threshold.”
Langley Township provides water to an estimated 104,386 people or approximately 82 per cent of residents, mostly urban and semi-urban.
Approximately 5,000 private wells provide water to the remaining residents in the more rural areas.