Governance arrangements limit progress on rehabilitating the Parliament buildings

(Chapter 3—Rehabilitating the Parliament Buildings—Spring 2010 Report of the Auditor General)

Ottawa, 20 April 2010—The buildings on Parliament Hill have been in need of major repairs for over two decades, but current arrangements for decision-making are limiting the progress of their rehabilitation, says Sheila Fraser, the Auditor General of Canada, in her Report tabled today in the House of Commons. Currently many organizations are involved, such as Public Works and Government Services Canada, the Senate, the House of Commons, and the Library of Parliament as well as Parks Canada and the National Capital Commission, but no one organization has overall responsibility for the Parliament buildings.

“These buildings are part of Canada’s heritage and are critical to Parliament’s operations,” said Ms. Fraser. “The governance arrangements are hindering rehabilitation work while the buildings continue to deteriorate.”

The audit found that Public Works and Government Services Canada has identified serious risks of building-system failure that could affect the ongoing operation of Parliament. The audit concluded that the governance framework is inadequate to guide the overall rehabilitation of the Parliament buildings. In particular, decision-making and accountability are fragmented and there is a lack of consensus on priorities. These weaknesses result in delayed decisions and projects, and contribute to increased project costs and risks.

“The longstanding governance problem, which we and others have raised over many years, has to be resolved,” said Ms. Fraser. “In our view, responsibility and accountability for the Parliament buildings should rest with the Senate and the House of Commons.”

The audit also found that once there is agreement on rehabilitation projects, Public Works follows sound project management practices that take into account the heritage character of the buildings, their age and condition, and environmental concerns. It has also developed cost-estimate methods that take project risks into account.

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The chapter “Rehabilitating the Parliament Buildings” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.

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