A Government-dominated parliamentary committee has found former Department of Health director-general Kim Snowball “filtered” information about problems and delays in commissioning Fiona Stanley Hospital.
The Education and Health Standing Committee, chaired by former Barnett Government minister Graham Jacobs, is also critical of Health Minister Kim Hames, saying he failed to seek further information about problems when he was told in a 2012 briefing note about the possibility of delays due to “significant ICT readiness issues”.
The 160-page report says there was “a litany of evidence” that commissioning the $2 billion hospital – which was completed by builder Brookfield Multiplex on schedule and on budget in December 2013 but will not be fully operational until March 2015 – was not going to be delivered on time.
The Government’s original opening date was April 2014, a target that was enshrined in its $4.3 billion non-clinical services contract with Serco, the largest in the State’s history.
“But the warnings went unnoticed for far too long,” the committee said. “Poor governance and reporting in the earlier stages of the project meant that it was difficult for anyone to gain visibility of the problems and the potential for delay.
“Yet, even later on, when the advice about the extent of the problems became clear, it was stifled.
“Poor communication meant that important advice effectively never saw the light of day. Those with ultimate responsibility for the project were kept in the dark.”
The committee said the “protracted” failures not only delayed the hospital opening but “will also ultimately cost the taxpayers of WA a significant sum”.
“It is also important to note that if the contractor (Serco) had been informed of changes to the scope and timeframe of the project earlier, these costs would have been able to be mitigated.
The committee said Treasury had confirmed $330 million in additional funding had been required to date.
“The final accurate figure as to the extra cost to taxpayers will become evident in the fullness of time,” it said.