CCC not willing to come clean

PAUL GORMAN
Last updated 05:00 09/07/2011

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The Christchurch City Council is refusing to reveal the extent of its checks on a central-city plan consulting company awarded nearly $900,000 of ratepayers' money.

Some details about the controversial contract with Impact Project Management have been uncovered this week, but crucial questions remain unanswered.

The council is trying to put an end to the issue, saying it "has no further comment to make on this appointment".

Impact is also keeping quiet, saying the project management contract is between it and the council.

But concerns remain around the deal, which exceeded the council staff's delegated authority cap of $500,000 and has sparked complaints to the Auditor-General's Office.

Questions The Press wants answered include:

What due diligence did the city council carry out on Wellington-based company Impact and its South Island chief executive, Nick Regos, before granting the contract?

When did council staff first meet Regos and how many times have they met since?

Why does the Impact website, but not the Companies Office, list Regos as a director of the firm?

Why does Impact say on its website it won the contract in April, when council papers say the deal was not signed until mid-May?

The Press has also asked the council for papers given to Impact on the scope of the contract before it won it, for documents confirming it had been successful and for a list of the council's pool of preferred consultants.

The council is treating those as Official Information Act requests.

In a statement, the council's central-city plan project sponsor, Mike Theelen, said Impact's appointment "was within normal council process, apart from the amount of the contract".

Councillors had subsequently ratified both the amount of the contract and the appointment.

"The organisation has no further comment to make on this appointment," he said.

Five city councillors – Tim Carter, Jimmy Chen, Jamie Gough, Yani Johanson and Glenn Livingstone – questioned the breach of delegated authority by staff in approving the Impact contract.

They also want all 14 contracts worth $2,826,598 supporting the development of the plan scrutinised for signs they may have been split to avoid triggering the need for councillor approval.

The five voted against the motion passed retrospectively to "reaffirm both the process followed and the appointment of consultants" during the post-February 22 earthquake state of emergency, which ended on April 30.

The Press was unable to get hold of Regos to talk about his previous project management experience.

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But a statement from Impact said Regos, who came to Christchurch after September's quake, had "established the management team and processes required for the initiation and delivery" of Abu Dhabi's Capital District project, with an infrastructure budget of $US16 billion and a total budget of $US54b.

Regos was also project director for the $US4b Al Waab City development in Qatar and worked on the "initiation" of the $US8b Knowledge Economic City in Saudi Arabia, the Impact spokesman said.

A biography of Regos provided to the city council says he "commenced his career in this industry from a practical perspective at the end of a shovel whilst at university. Since then he has spent over 20 years working in numerous locations around the world refining his leadership and project management skills.

"Following postgraduate studies in project management in Australia, Nick has advanced from humble beginnings to senior management roles that have seen him leading teams of multi-skilled professionals.

"After spending the last five years in the Middle East leading the strategic planning and delivery of multibillion-dollar projects, Nick and his family have chosen to return to New Zealand."

- The Press

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