Projects to construct high schools and build additions at four primary schools were badly managed by the Ministry of Education, significantly increasing construction costs, says the Auditor General in his report made public today. Due to poor record keeping by the Ministry, the audit could not determine the exact amount of the cost escalation, but the report says the figure is likely more than $25 million.
“The Ministry of Education is set up to deliver education programs and achieve the best outcomes for students,” said Mr. Swarbrick. “It does not have the systems and practices or the expertise needed to build infrastructure.”
In the report, titled “Major Capital Projects: Construction of Schools,” Mr. Swarbrick notes that only one of three planned high schools was completed, at double the original contracted price; and four primary school additions came in at 34% over budget.
The audit found that a contributing factor in the overspending was the role played by the former Minister of Education during the years 2009 to early 2013. The report describes in detail how government officials allowed the Minister to be involved in day to day project management and decision making. This obscured accountability for the cost overruns and the late delivery of the schools projects and, ultimately, it contravened Cayman Islands law.
“The Ministry has delivered less than it promised at a far higher cost than planned, and what has been delivered has been late,” said Mr. Swarbrick. “The people of the Cayman Islands and the students who need proper buildings in which to learn are still waiting for the high school infrastructure promised by the Government several years ago.”
The audit followed an audit report issued in 2012, which reviewed the high school projects up to the point where the contracts were signed in 2008.