The disciplinary committee of the Norwegian Parliament has decided to investigate how and why an expansion project involving their own building has become victim to huge budget overruns and lengthy delays. Committee member Michael Tetzschner had already claimed there were too many questions that need to be answered.
Newspaper VG reported this week that committee members have decided that the project, the cost of which has more than tripled to NOK 1.8 billion (USD 214 million), must be subjected to more scrutiny. The original plan was simply to remodel and expand an adjacent office building, but then it was also decided to create a new entrance to the Parliament’s underground parking garage at the same time, by digging a tunnel to it from three blocks away. The Parliament is also supposed to get a new mail and delivery terminal.
“Now the costs are probably an unavoidable fact, but was this project really necessary at all? Were there any alternatives? Has the Parliament been kept adequately informed throughout the building process? Why were the budget overruns unavoidable?” Those were just some of the questions rattled off by Tetzschner, who added that “we must see the documentation for the needs and the solutions.”
It’s all a huge embarrassement for the president of the Parliament, Olemic Thommessen, who hails from Tetzschner’s own party, the Conservatives, which also holds government power. The chief executive of the Parliament, Ida Børresen, is also under fire. They have, meanwhile, decided to sue the consulting firm on which they say they relied for professional advice.
“We just want to get to the bottom of why the Parliament (under the direction of Thommessen and Børresen) did not have (state building agency) Statsbygg lead what’s now become a scandalous project in the center of Oslo,” Tetzschner told VG. The project has disrupted traffic, public transport lines and the daily lives of many working in neighbouring buildings.