PAC Meets On Port Royal Golf Course Costs

May 1, 2015

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Public Accounts conducted a Public Hearing on Thursday [April 30] in reference to the Port Royal Golf Course renovation project.

The management of the project was criticised in the Auditor General’s report which said the project incurred costs of more than $24 million during 2007 to 2011 – for a project the Auditor said was initially budgeted at $4.5 million in November 2006.

The report said, “Between 2007 and 2011, the Government of Bermuda approved a $24.5 million refurbishment of the golf course, known as the Port Royal Golf Course Improvements Capital Development Project.

“In November 2006, the Board of Trustees requested $7.7 million in funding from the Government for refurbishments of all three golf courses [$4.5 million for Port Royal Golf Course, $3.0 million for Ocean View and $0.2 million for St. George’s]. Government approved only $3.0 million at that time.

“By January 2007, the scope had changed to a refurbishment of Port Royal Golf Course only and the Board of Trustees developed a preliminary budget of $6.5 million.

“In November 2007, the Government approved a $13.6 million expanded capital redevelopment project for Port Royal Golf Course. The scope of the Project then included a reverse osmosis plant and irrigation system, lengthening of the course, rebuilding of tees and greens, remodeling bunkers, re-grassing fairways, constructing a new maintenance building, and purchasing new maintenance equipment – sufficient that the course would meet Professional Golfers of America [PGA] tour standards.”

Chart extracted from the Auditor’s report

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The report also spoke on project delays, saying: “The original time frame for construction was a 12-month period commencing January 1, 2008. However, the course was not fully reopened until August 2009 [a 19-month period]. Delays in construction resulted in a significant loss of revenue estimated to be $1.9 million based on historical Port Royal Golf Course revenues averaging $3.2 million per year.”

A statement from the Auditor General’s office when the report was released said the Special Report “speaks of cost overruns, a lack of proper oversight and monitoring by the Government” adding that the Auditor General “cannot conclude whether all the funds received by the Board of Trustees were used for the intended purposes or were fully accounted for due to inadequate accounting records.”

The Committee who held yesterday’s hearing consists of Chairman David Burt [PLP], Lovitta Foggo [PLP], Cole Simons [OBA], Glen Smith [OBA], Jeff Sousa [OBA], Wayne Furbert [PLP] and Susan Jackson [OBA].

Both Wendell Brown and Bob Wilson, who served on the Port Royal Board of Trustees, appeared at yesterday’s hearing.

Quite a few questions were asked about the services Island Construction supplied, such as provision of sand, and whether multiple companies were contacted to ensure best pricing and services were received.

Board member Jeff Sousa, who owns Sousa’s Landscaping, said that his company was not contacted about possibly providing services such as irrigation, saying “I just want to make it clear, we were not contacted.”

As the hearing wrapped up some of the PAC members made comments; with Jeff Sousa saying, “Personally I feel that the fact that many phases of the project did not go out to tender – excavation, irrigation, the supply of sand – that the people of Bermuda did not get value for money,” while Lovitta Foggo said “Going forward, Bermuda will likely benefit from having a first class professional golf course.”

The Auditor General’s Special Report on the Port Royal Golf Course follows below  [PDF here]:

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Comments (32)

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  1. Casual Observer says:

    So a capital project that was moved from the remit of W&E (as is usual practice) to the cabinet, for whatever reason, ends up going $10mn over budget.

    The contracts (remember there was more than one job) never went out to tender just happened to go to a Government MPs business who also just happened to be a Board member of Port Royal at the time.

    As the AG noted there was lack of accounting and proper oversight for various change orders with the AG noting “cannot conclude whether all the funds received by the Board of Trustees were used for the intended purposes or were fully accounted for due to inadequate accounting records.”

    But yet the PLP MPs on the PAC defend lack of oversight and even go as far as saying that ‘there will always be conflicts of interests in Bermuda’ when defending a non-tender contracts that all just happened to go to a Government MP and sitting Port Royal Board Member.

    Also, not mentioned in the above is how a certain Port Royal Board member received a $10k finder’s fee. Just like the BLDC Board scandal involving PLP appointees and a 2012 PLP MP candidate.

    Remember this meeting and defense in the future people, especially the ones that will defend this nonsense and dare to criticise others. It will be used against you.

  2. Coffee says:

    What is the real reason Jeff Sousa is vexed again?

  3. Terry says:

    Follow the money.

    ‘GolfGate’.

  4. tom cooke says:

    The silence is deafening. …

  5. What went wrong says:

    I attended the hearing yesterday. The Auditor said they found no wrongdoing that warranted a police investigation. I think that is the most newsworthy point!

    • After having sat in that Chamber and listened to what had been revealed,(contrary to the letter above) I personally believe outside, Scotland Yard) investigators must pick up where the Auditor General left off…
      No-one operates any,(or shouldn’t be) a business without keeping records, (debit in – credit out) therefore I ask, how can millions of dollars simply vanish?(or that’s what the citizen of this Island are to believe)What,(and this is my opinion) the former Government are responsible for is its, “misappropriation of public funds” in the sum of x millions of dollars, (because it hadn’t been definitive the amount unaccounted for even though a very substantial amount of taxpayers dollars were spent without,(thus-far)no records of where, who or when traceable.
      This in layman terms would be / is considered “ a form of possible theft”. Is it another example of, “Justice” and “Just-us” ? Inquisitive minds would like to know.

      • stunned... says:

        the would-be responses to an SY investigation have already been laid:

        *I can’t remember
        *It’s been so long, the Audit should have been conducted earlier
        *There was a hurricane that damaged the data/records
        *No, I didn’t check the details, didn’t ask any questions

        *No, I did not concern myself with the details
        *No, I did not consider it an issue of conflict because we only dealt with the brother of the Board member
        *We had a mandate to provide a PGA course for play in 2009 and that is what was delivered.

        and lastly, ” I make no apologies…”

        • Zevon says:

          We also had Wendell Brown telling the board “there are always conflicts of interest in Bermuda”, and Burt accepting that. With “no spologies”.
          And Lovitta Foggo writes it all off with “Bermuda will benefit from having a first class golf course”, no matter what the thing cost, presumably.
          So, conflicts of interest are fine with them, and who cares about working class people, it’s golf courses for rich people they care about,

    • stunned... says:

      maybe it’s not too late given what appears to be the Board’s dereliction of duty in safeguarding the assets of Bermuda.

    • navin johnson says:

      sounds familiar..unethical but not illegal…now where have I heard that before?

  6. aceboy says:

    What a farce the PAC is. Divided along political lines much? But Burt is the Chairman, so sweep sweep under the rug this issue will go, like all the other outrageous overruns under the PLP.

    Absolutely disgusting.

    • Coffee says:

      Actually , Bob Richards chaired the first PAC as opposition chairman to look into Port Royal , and guess what …. No wrong doings .

      • aceboy says:

        You cannot say there was no wrong doing. The information necessary to do so is “unavailable”….still. The Auditor General has stated this unequivocally. You are so easily fooled….or part of the fooling.

  7. Truth is killin' me... says:

    What a bunch of wasters. And this report came to nothing as well. The people deserve better from all of you! Tax payers dollars and pilferers and these meetings came to nought. The public should be outraged.

  8. aceboy says:

    How can anyone claim we got value for money, when the auditor could not determine where the money even went?

    • Unbelievable says:

      exactly. The PLP are just going “oh well….at least the grounds look good”.

  9. Jus' Wonderin' says:

    Where’d the rest of our taxpayer money go Burt and Zane?!?!

  10. Terry says:

    PAC Gate.
    Shalom.

  11. The Ghost says:

    Go and look at port royal now…. soon they will need to spend another 20mil on it…Just saying…

  12. C James says:

    Textbook PLP deflection and lack of accountabilty, responsibilty, or apology. The only thing they didn’t do is pull the race card.

    Disgusting in the extreme – the Bermuda public swallows it and the spineless OBA does nothing about it.

  13. Your joking says:

    Meanwhile….Tiger Woods builds this course starting in 2012 for 12 million….from scratch..not a course and layout that was already existing
    http://www.diamantecabosanlucas.com/cabo-golf-courses/tiger-woods-diamante/

  14. Common Cents says:

    The PAC seems to be saying it’s the Auditor’s fault for not investigating sooner, as if the disappearance of financial documents is a normal thing.

  15. Fidel says:

    To ‘your joking’ , you are clueless in golf course redevelopment !!!!!

  16. Common Sense says:

    We got a nice refit for the golf course, but paid far too much for it. We got a great $70 million Berkeley Inst School, but paid $120 million for it. The $5 million TCD Building is great, but we paid $15 million for it. The Taxpayers, that’s all of us, got very poor value for these and many other projects,

    • Unbelievable says:

      Well that’s the PLP. Oh nothing to see here…move along.

  17. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    That is equivalent to 27 houses in rural Bermuda

    I personalty think golf is a waste of time and money designed to entertain the upper classes while some of us have a hard time putting food on the table.

    Time would better spent planting and marketing Bermuda Onions.

    They make a mockery out of the game of golf, they want the greens as smooth as velvet .

    The the lazy sit in golf carts, get drunk at #19, while we pay for it.

    There is a ” Lack of Confidence” with public accounting open check book practices needing a complete overhaul the consolidated fund has to go because the appears to be no control of the ” Golden Bucket.”

    As for signed contracts,not enforceable not worth the paper and ink.

  18. Alvin Williams says:

    To the OBA political supporters find another stick to beat the PLP with; this one is done.

    • BDA Friend says:

      Far from done. I think a special prosecutor should be called in for this one. Follow the money.

    • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

      i know what you mean Al…it’s like flogging a dead horse…just no results huh..

      • Come Correct says:

        That’s what I got from it…the plp is a dead horse…lets bury it so the oba can stop beating it.