Friday, November 19, 2010

Is running over-budget an inevitability?

Yesterday CBC's Inside Politics blog printed a bit of a cheeky post suggesting that maybe seeing construction projects in Ottawa run late and go over budget shouldn't be too surprising to us--it's just "part of our national heritage".

The article is about the significant renovations to Parliament's West, not some public transit infrastructure project, but it does touch on what seems to be a trend of projects overshooting their budgets--sometimes, as in this instance, by a large margin.

Fulfilling the 'national heritage' is a very real possibility with Ottawa's light-rail transit project--although so few details are known right now, and the estimate is so loose (right now it's left itself a 25 per cent buffer), that it's an unknown quantity. Mayor-elect Jim Watson seems genuinely committed to staying on budget with the project, and actually has ideas on how to do so (particularly his desire to have a management board oversee the project), so I'm fairly optimistic about the possibility of staying on budget, or at least minimizing the budget overshoot. But there are so many unknowns right now, it's hard to say.


david said...

Budgets usually involve a lot of wishful thinking, or (in the case of public projects) deliberate deception. It's better to come in low to win acceptance, then claim that the actual cost was higher due to unforeseen circumstances, acts of god, etc.

Dwight Williams said...

When you've got exemplars like Sir John A. and Colonel By - no less than they! - for role models...