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Managing Time, Cost and Quality – A Tale of Two Buildings

by Donald Charrett

Dr Donald Charrett (2007) 28 BDPS News 10 

The theme of this paper is the lessons that can be learned from the delivery of two seminal building projects – the Australian Parliament House in Canberra (“APH”), and the Scottish Parliament House in Edinburgh (“SPH”).  Whilst these projects were completed at different times (1988 and 2004 respectively), and in different countries, it will be seen that there are many common factors, including the method of project delivery.  APH received significant adverse comments on the cost and time management of the construction by the Auditor General, who published a critical “Efficiency Audit”. After completion of the building, the Parliament House Construction Authority  prepared its own publication documenting the history of the project and the lessons learned, and rebutting the Auditor General’s criticisms.  There was however, no independent public enquiry as such into the procurement of APH.  The procurement of SPH was also the subject of examination by the Scottish Auditor General on two occasions, in 2000 when construction was at an early stage, and in 2004 near the end of the project.  Further, as a consequence of the publicity given to the substantial time and cost overruns of SPH, there was a public enquiry into all aspects of the procurement of SPH conducted by Lord Fraser, building on the Auditor General’s findings.

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