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    Audit reveals federal police HQ cost tens of millions too much

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    The construction of a new headquarters for the federal police cost tens of millions of euros more than it should have, because the government lacks adequate procedures for carrying out major projects, according to an audit leaked to De Tijd.

    The audit was carried out by inspectors from the federal finance ministry, which points to serious structural problems in the way such contracts are carried out. According to the government’s buildings agency, which comes under the authority of the home affairs ministry, procedures have been “adapted and refined” since the audit was carried out.

    The police HQ ended up costing the taxpayer 312 million euros, which the auditors reckon was 40 million euros more than it ought to have cost. The report details how the law on public contracts was breached, one sole developer ended up in the running for the contract, the start of the works was delayed, the buildings agency had no oversight of invoices, and there was no negotiation when it came to the later rental of the building.

    Then, having overpaid for the construction of the building, the agency later sold it to the developer at a knock-down price, before renting back parts of the building at a price well above market rates, the inspectors concluded.

    The finance ministry points out the danger that the structural deficiencies identified will be repeated in other major projects now under way or later to come.

    The buildings agency meanwhile pointed out that the audit took place several years ago, while procedures have changed in the interim. The agency has refined and adjusted its internal procedures, in some cases with the help of external experts, without having to wait for the auditors’ report, a spokesperson told the paper.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times