Media release – WestConnex: Changes since 2014
What the report is about
The report examined whether Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and Infrastructure NSW (INSW) effectively assessed and justified major scope changes to the WestConnex project since 2014.
What we found
NSW Government decisions to fund WestConnex-related projects outside WestConnex's $16.812 billion budget have reduced transparency and understate the full cost of WestConnex.
The NSW Government's decision to separate Sydney Gateway from WestConnex has reduced transparency over the cost of the road component of Sydney Gateway. $1.76 billion of the cost to complete Sydney Gateway is funded outside the WestConnex budget.
Network integration costs, currently estimated at $2.3 billion, are also funded outside the WestConnex budget. Many of these costs are directly attributable to WestConnex and ought to be included in the reported budget.
The Parramatta Road Urban Amenity Improvement Program, costing $198 million, should also be included as part of the WestConnex reported budget.
Decisions to exclude or remove these elements from WestConnex without justification have seen $4.26 billion of projects funded outside the $16.8 billion budget.
Positively, robust analysis was used to develop and incorporate design improvements into the 2015 WestConnex Updated Strategic Business Case.
The separate components of WestConnex underwent all required assurance reviews. However, the NSW Government's assurance framework does not require ongoing ‘whole-of-program’ assurance for large and complex projects like WestConnex. The absence of a holistic review of WestConnex allows for some costs and benefits to avoid scrutiny.
What we recommended
- review the impact of scope changes on project objectives, costs and benefits for complex infrastructure projects
- ensure that estimated costs and benefits of works which are reasonably required to meet consent conditions are included in business cases for complex large infrastructure projects
- establish centralised and project specific record keeping for major infrastructure projects.
Infrastructure NSW should provide transparent whole of program assurance on total costs and benefits when complex projects are split into sub-projects.
Government should consider enhancing public transparency of existing infrastructure assurance processes by requiring that large complex infrastructure programs undergo periodic review at a whole-of-program level.
Please contact Ian Goodwin, Deputy Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.