SUNDAY, OCT. 24: "Strangely timed and inaccurate,” Premier Ewart Brown said today, responding to the Auditor General's Special Report on the TCD Emissions Facility.

"The Auditor General's reports are to the Speaker of the House who in turn tables them for the House to consider. We're two weeks away from the first opportunity for that usual process so I found this Report's timing and very media-based release strange."

The Ministry of Tourism and Transport also confirmed that technical officers had spent several months working with the Office of the Auditor General and provided detailed explanations to each and every question raised.

Many of those explanations do not feature in the Report.

"This reminds me of the style of the former Auditor General and it diminishes the stature of the office when it is done this way," the Premier added.

The Ministry maintained that it is not accurate to say that what was costed at $5.3m in 2001/2 cost taxpayers $15m at completion of the project. No account appears to have been taken for basic increases in the cost of goods and services between the time the project was originally planned and the commencement of construction.

In fact, an examination of successive Budget Books will reveal that before a penny of public money was spent the Ministry regularly and openly adjusted the proposed allocated funding to reflect such changes.

The Ministry confirmed that the operations contract was approved by Cabinet and that the Office of the Auditor General had not sought specific clarification of this point; the evidence of this will now be provided for their information.

Change Orders are a normal part of large construction projects and in the case of the TCD facility all such orders were documented, reviewed, justified and certified by an Engineer with that authority. This seems to have been ignored by the Auditor General.

The Ministry of Tourism and Transport has fully supported and participated in the recent review of capital project management conducted by the Ministry of Finance and, recognizing that a number of other routine audits are behind,  will continue to cooperate and assist the Office of the Auditor General to achieve accurate and timely reporting for the public.

"A thorough review by an Auditor General is essential to a successful democracy and this Government has strengthened the Office of the Auditor General in tangible ways. Commentary and sensational headlines based on the findings from the Report without the benefit of proper context or the full facts of the Ministry position do a disservice to the hard-working public officers of the Ministry and the Department who spent countless hours addressing these issues", the Premier added.

"Where there have been errors and a departure from best practice I expect accountability and accept that recommendations for improved oversight must be embraced."