The Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure allowed a jail construction project to go nearly $2 million over budget and three years past deadline, according to a report released by Auditor Timothy O’Brien Thursday.
The report examined the buildout contract for Denver County Jail Building 24, identifying numerous instances of additional work and costs which O’Brien said the department failed to adequately explain or document.
“Change orders after the fact, light documentation on a project, years of delays, and extra cost for work that may have been foreseeable — this doesn’t pass the test for public accountability and responsible management of public funds,” O’Brien said.
During construction, many subcontractors billed for more than they originally quoted for the work, adding nearly $2 million in costs, according to the report. Some of the subcontractors didn’t even have original price quotes on file.
Most of the additional costs were marked as required changes based on “unforeseen” regulatory and safety issues noted during inspection; however, documentation doesn’t explain why regulatory requirements and inspections weren’t anticipated in planning, the report said.
In addition, due to substantial change orders during construction, the project was extended for an additional 1,001 days, when it was only scheduled to take 262 days in total. This years-long delay also increased construction costs.
Though the building was supposed to be finished by January 2018, it still was not complete at the time of the audit, the report said.
“Effective project management is essential to combat rising construction costs in the city,” O’Brien said. “Based on the management of this construction contract, city managers need to make sure they’re keeping a closer eye on the work being done to make sure the public is getting what they pay for.”
O’Brien said other department controls are operating effectively, including having multiple levels of approval for payments and change orders and keeping a detailed change order log.
The report recommends the department improve how it monitors amounts billed by subcontractors, reconcile price quotes to the amounts invoiced, complete change orders in a timely manner and document the explanation of all increased costs.
The department has agreed to all recommendations and committed to implement them by Aug. 1.