The process that Newport Beach used to construct its $140 million Civic Center project will get an outsider’s perspective.
City Council members voted Tuesday to start the process of auditing the city’s Civic Center project, which took about five years to complete and had a final price tag of about $140.2 million.
The audit will be limited to $100,000, and take a look at how the project grew and its cost and scope over time. The audit would involve both an independent firm and independent manager to oversee the process. The audit would have a March deadline.
The Civic Center project included a new city hall, a 17,000-square-foot library expansion, a 14-acre park, a 450-space parking structure and a pedestrian bridge. The majority of the work was complete by April 2013.
Critics of the Civic Center’s cost have called for an audit for years. The project started as a modest rebuild at the old city hall site on the Balboa Peninsula, but eventually costs ballooned after the facility moved locations, added on a pedestrian bridge, library expansion and suffered from delays.
The audit would review the construction contracts and subcontractor bids, and compare the full project cost and change order costs of the Civic Center construction with similar projects. It will also consider whether the final cost of the Civic Center was affected by using one company – C.W. Driver – as both lead contractor and project manager, if delays increased costs and whether the project was properly transparent.
City staff had done its own review of the construction process, but council members Diane Dixon and Kevin Muldoon asked for an outside firm’s perspective. Dixon said Tuesday the audit would be “neither a witch hunt or a whitewash,” but would reinforce best practices for the city when it takes on large construction projects in the future.
Mike Glenn, a Balboa Peninsula resident, said he wasn’t happy with the scope of the audit – residents want a more detailed report, he said.
“This is not what we want,” Glenn said. “We need to go deeper and get a forensic audit.”
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