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Council responds to State audit with call for increased accountability

Summary

Adopted motion requests stricter reporting requirements and addresses findings on cash and asset management

Story


Funds for capital construction projects will come under increased scrutiny, including the possibility of funding being released in phases for projects deemed to be of higher risk, under legislation adopted today by the Metropolitan King County Council. The motion would also establish countywide standards for reporting on capital projects.

The legislation sponsored by Council Vice Chair Bob Ferguson and Councilmember Reagan Dunn responds to issues raised by a recent state audit of King County.

“By passing this legislation, the Council acknowledges that King County must do a better job of safeguarding public tax dollars,” said Ferguson, chair of the Council’s Committee of the Whole. “We now have a game plan in place, and there will be greater oversight of County cash and assets.”

“We are taking the Auditor’s findings very seriously,” said Dunn, chair of the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. “King County has room for improvement and this legislation is a step in the right direction.”

The legislation asks County agencies to report to the Council on how they have tightened internal management of cash or assets in light of the findings raised in the state audit.

The Accountability Audit of King County released on June 22 by the state Auditor highlighted 12 areas where the Auditor believed the County could improve its safeguards over construction management and the management of cash and assets.

To ensure the Council provides the strongest possible oversight over countywide construction activity, the proposed motion calls for the Council to, by September 15, consider legislation to release funding for high-risk capital projects in phases, with requirements that must be met before funds are appropriated for each of the preliminary design, final design, and construction phases of a project. The proposal would also require:

• A standard report for all capital project appropriation requests including baseline estimates for scope, schedule, and budget,

• A standard set of estimating requirements that ensures every project budgets will include all known costs and risks along with estimates of how accurate those numbers are,

• Establishment and maintenance of a risk register for high-risk projects, with a formal risk assessment made before funds are released for final design, and

• Earned value forecasts to be used for high-risk projects as a best practice.

The motion also asks the Executive to develop standardized performance measures for construction projects to replace the current ad-hoc collection of measures used by different departments.

Accountability and transparency to the public on the actual progress of capital projects would be enhanced with a proposal to examine implementation of a comprehensive, countywide construction management information system that would track projects against their budgets and schedules.



Read the legislation
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206-296-1024
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