Audit of Halifax's transit technology project finds issues

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The municipal auditor's report on Halifax's transit technology project was released Thursday. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
The municipal auditor's report on Halifax's transit technology project was released Thursday. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

The management of Halifax Transit's technology project "needs considerable improvement," according to a report by the municipality's auditor general.

"The five-year road map for transit technology began in 2012, it's now eight years later and it's not complete," said Evangeline Colman Sadd. "And there's still no overall completion date for these projects."

Transit managers said the original timeline was unrealistic and did not take into account the complexity of the work. Auditors also determined that the amount of time needed to negotiate contracts was underestimated.

Technology upgrades include modernizing the fare system, automated vehicle location and a new process for scheduling and route planning. The projects have an estimated cost of $32.7 million.

But auditors found the project budgets are not individually tracked and managers could not provide the necessary supporting documents.

"There's a lot going on here," said Colman Sadd. "From one year to the next I don't know how you could keep track of that in your mind on a reliable basis without having the information documented."

Halifax Transit has also used an external contractor as a project manager. According to auditors, there would have been savings of $1.6 million if municipal staff had been used instead, although Colman Sadd acknowledged that sometimes expertise is a determining factor.

The report was presented to regional council's audit and finance committee on Thursday. Part of the findings was discussed behind closed doors.

All four recommendations have been accepted by transit managers. They include establishing reasonable timelines for the outstanding technology projects and doing a formal cost-benefit analysis when deciding to hire external project managers.

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