Saturday, 6 August 2016

Rap over a Rubbish Bin Centre

Why is a centralised NAC bin centre needed?
With reference to the report of the Auditor-General for the Financial Year 2015/16, we accept and acknowledge that the cost assessment for the consultancy services in relation to the centralised bin centre should have been more robust. Relevant processes will be put in place to ensure that the norm for cost assessment of consultancy fees will be adopted for future development projects.

There could be some misunderstanding about the reasons for building the bin centre. It was not a standalone project; but part of redevelopment for the Civic District which is an important cultural and heritage area for Singapore.

In the past, Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall (VTVCH), Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) and Old Parliament House had their own bin centres. However, with the redevelopment of the District, there was an opportunity to build a centralised refuse collection centre to serve ACM, VTVCH and Old Parliament House. This would allow for improved operational processes and enhance the aesthetics of the area.

A suitable location was eventually identified at ACM’s existing outhouse, above its basement, and the construction cost was less than 1% of the development cost for VTVCH.

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Bin centre was a complicated project, says National Arts Council after AGO flags high consultancy fees
The NAC paid $410,000 for a study on the bin centre. This amount was nearly 90% of the cost of building it, which was another $470,000. The AGO singled out the high consultancy fees in its report. ST  FOTO: DESMOND FOO

The National Arts Council (NAC) has defended the high fees paid to consultants of a centralised refuse collection project in the Civic District, saying it was "not a simple bin centre to build".

There were many technical challenges to consider, as well as the need to ensure traffic nearby was smooth and the buildings were conserved, it said on Government website Factually, which aims to correct misinformation posted online.

The $410,000 it paid for a study on the project alone is nearly 90% of the cost of actually building the bin centre, which was another $470,000.

related:
AGO report: Workers' Party calls on Government to adequately address lapses
WP concerned over lapses


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Key Consultants Appointed for Refurbishment of Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall

The National Arts Council (NAC) has appointed the key consultant team comprising the architect, acoustician, theatre planner, mechanical & electrical (M&E) engineer, civil & structural (C&S) engineer and quantity surveyor to undertake the refurbishment ofSingapore’s two national monuments, Victoria Theatre (VT) and Victoria Concert Hall (VCH).

W Architects Pte Ltd was appointed the architect, with Architectural Restoration Consultants Pte Ltd (ARC) as its conservator to work on heritage elements of the buildings. An established local company, W Architects is backed by a proven track record in conservation and restoration projects such as the redevelopment of the National Museum of Singapore. ARC has worked on many significant local conservation projects involving buildings that bore architectural similarities to those of VT and VCH like The Arts House and the National Art Gallery.

Taking on the role of acoustician and theatre planner is Arup Singapore Pte Ltd, whose projects include the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort and Fusionopolis Phase 1. T. Y. Lin International will provide the M&E and C&S services, and Rider Levett Bucknall LLP is appointed as the project manager and quantity surveyor.

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$470,000 bin centre was a ‘complex and complicated’ project: Singapore’s arts council
$470,000 bin centre was a ‘complex and complicated’ project: Singapore’s arts council. There were many considerations and technical challenges in building a $470,000 bin centre that necessitated a feasibility study and consultancy services, said the National Arts Council (NAC). The AGO said that NAC had spent an “exceptionally high” consultancy fee of $410,000 in building a bin centre

There were many considerations and technical challenges in building a $470,000 bin centre that necessitated a feasibility study and consultancy services, said the National Arts Council (NAC).

NAC was responding to the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) report for Financial Year 2015/2016. The AGO said that NAC had spent an “exceptionally high” consultancy fee of $410,000 in building a bin centre for Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall. This was in addition to the $470,000 construction cost of the bin centre. 

But in a statement posted on the Factually section of government website Gov.sg, NAC explained that the bin centre was not a standalone project, but part of redevelopment for the Civic District. Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall (VTVCH), Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) and Old Parliament House previously had their own bin centres. However, the redevelopment of the Civic District presented an opportunity to build a centralised refuse collection centre to serve the three venues.

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NAC’s rubbish bin centre part of cultural and heritag  redevelopment efforts, Govt explains

The Auditor General’s Office Report recently rapped the National Arts Council (NAC) for spending $410,000 in consultancy fees to construct a $470,000 rubbish bin centre.

NAC which was then under the Ministry of Information, Communications and Arts is now part of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). MCCY explaining the “exceptionally high” consultancy fee said that when approval was sought to draw down the funds, it did not use the normal method (a percentage of the construction cost), but benchmarked the fee for building the bin centre against other more complex projects, which was why the fee was high.

It further said: “the construction of the bin centre for this project was more complex and required significantly more design expertise, technical consultancy services and effort to coordinate with multiple parties.” The Ministry pledged to adopt the normal method to assess consultancy fees in future development projects.

related:
NAC defends itself with new statement on bin centre saga
Would Grace Fu tell Prof Chan to return $410K back to taxpayers
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So how does a 880k bin centre look like?
Just last week, Auditor-General Office stated in its report for Financial Year 2015/2016 that there had been inadequate assessment on the reasonableness of the consultancy fee of $410,000 quoted for the construction of a bin centre built by the National Arts Council (NAC) for the Victoria Theatre/Victoria Concert Hall (VT/VCH)

AGO observed that NAC had directly engaged the VT/VCH consultants to provide additional consultancy services amounting to $410,000 for the construction of a bin centre, without first conducting a cost assessment to ascertain the reasonableness of the fee quoted.

AGO wrote that the fee was exceptionally high at 87.2 per cent of the construction cost, $470,000 and that there was no assurance that the fee paid by NAC was reasonable.

The $410,000 consultation fees on top of the $470,000 construction fees, means that the bin centre costs in total, a whopping $880,000. So what bin centre is it that cost nearly to one million dollars?

related: National Arts Council paid 410k consultation fees for 470k bin centre

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PAP'S GRACE FU DEFENDS $410,000 CONSULTANT FEE FOR NAC BIN CENTRE, IT'S A COMPLEX PROJECT

The AGO report has revealed lots of lapses, including an eye-popping $410,000 consultancy fee for a $470,000 bin centre.

Whoever authorised the payment at the National Arts Centre has to be held accountable and the MCCY owes the public an explanation.

Instead, MCCY Minister Grace Fu claimed that it was a “complex” project requiring “significantly more design expertise”. Fu is wrong to assume the public could be taken for a ride easily.

related: NAC BIN CENTRE LOOKS VERY "COMPLEX" INDEED

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Govt trying to use 468 words to explain S$880,000 National Arts Council bin centre cost

A bin centre that cost the National Arts Council (NAC) S$880,000 in total to build, was recently flagged in the Auditor-General’s Office report for Financial Year 2015/16. The consultation fee alone, which the AGO said was “exceptionally high”, was S$410,000.

This raised the collective eyebrow of the general public. The NAC has responded by saying that they accept and acknowledge that the cost assessment for the building of the bin centre outside the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) should have been more robust.

The NAC’s 468-word response has been published on Factually, a government website, in typical government speak.

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National Arts Council

Audits were also carried out on the National Arts Council (NAC). Particular attention was paid to the contract management for the redevelopment of Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall. There were 164 alterations to the works in the contract, but 47 of them, worth an estimated $4 million, were carried out before approvals were given. Such delays in obtaining approval went up to 3.5 years. This undermines the authorities and controls that are in place to ensure that variations are approved before works take place.

One of the most bizzare incidents detailed in the report concerns the construction of a bin centre, where 83 per cent of the cost went to the consultancy fee. While the bin centre cost $470,000 in total, the consultancy fee alone was $410,000.

The report did provide an explanation for this – the benchmark for the fee was based on more complex projects rather than assessing it relative to the construction costs, which is how it’s normally done.

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NAC Bin Centre looks ‘very complex’ indeed

AGO flagged the payment of $400,000 consultancy fees to build an NAC bin centre which costs only $470,000. An online forum member Scrabby shared a picture of the supposed ‘complex’ bin centre and it looks surprisingly normal.

Nothing about its external facade suggests of the complexity cited by PAP Minister Grace Fu to support its $400,000 consultancy fees.

Although it is unclear if the bin centre has any hidden functions within its enclosed perimeter. Maybe it has an underground tunnel or maybe it has other abilities we Singaporean peasants are unaware and too daft to comprehend. I will defer to our learned PAP ministers to do what’s best for us.

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Hiring over qualified professionals led to NAC paying $410K consultancy fee for $470K bin
Generic picture of bin centre

Blogger Ryan Ong tried to explain in his Facebook about how a bin centre consultation cost $410,000. He was referring to the Auditor General’s Office Report that flagged the National Arts Council (NAC) for spending that amount of money, which it described as “exceptionally high”, to construct a $470,000 bin centre.

The blogger said: “Remember that it’s part of an overall redevelopment project for Victoria Theatre / Victoria Concert Hall. The people thus being consulted are high level architects, interior designers, and master engineers. There is a minimum fee for these consultants, and it is going to be high. In this case, people qualified to build skyscrapers and preserve monuments were hired to give their advice on building a garbage dump.

To put it in context: if you insist on seeing a top specialist because you have a mild flu, you could end up paying $700 instead of a $12 consultation. So it is quite possible to pay $410,000 on expert advice to build a bin centre. Just as you could pay Marc Jacobs $200,000 to design your left sock. If you choose to hire someone overqualified, you pay the price.”

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Ryan Ong Facebook
How does a bin centre consultation cost $410,000? Simple. Remember that it's part of an overall redevelopment project for Victoria Theatre / Victoria Concert Hall. The people thus being consulted are high level architects, interior designers, and master engineers.

There is a minimum fee for these consultants, and it is going to be high. In this case, people qualified to build skyscrapers and preserve monuments were hired to give their advice on building a garbage dump. To put it in context: if you insist on seeing a top specialist because you have a mild flu, you could end up paying $700 instead of a $12 consultation.

So it is quite possible to pay $410,000 on expert advice to build a bin centre. Just as you could pay Marc Jacobs $200,000 to design your left sock. If you choose to hire someone overqualified, you pay the price.

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NAC Bin Centre Facebook
But nobody come talk to me, my feelings have been hurt.

The $410,000 consultancy fee includes setting up this Twitter account.

Now you understand why it cost so much.

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Roy Ngerng Yi Ling
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) which approved the purchase claimed that the bin required "design expertise".

There is however no "unique design" and the NAC's bin centre is similar to a standard 12m by 15m bin centre. It cost about S$454 per square foot - more than a new 4-room BTO HDB flat.

When the price was revealed by the Auditor-General Office (AGO)'s report, many members of the public ridiculed the purchase

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NAC Bin Centre

There was quite a big stink when the Auditor-General’s Office (AGO) mentioned the National Arts Council bin centre for Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall, in its annual audit. The NAC Bin Centre cost the NAC $470,000 to build, and $410,000 for the consultancy fee. The NAC defended its very expensive dustbin at this Gahmen website.

I think the NAC has nothing to explain. I totally get it. NAC Bin Centre isn't just a bin centre. It is THE Bin Centre of the Nation. NAC Bin Centre is the benchmark that all Bin Centres in Singapore must aspire to. That includes Bin Centres in PAP and Opposition wards.

Sure this bin centre cost $410,000 in consultancy fees and $470,000 to build, but it is the most iconic rubbish collection bin in the nation. Paris has the Lourve. London has the Tate Modern. Singapore now has the NAC Bin Centre.

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NAC’s rubbish bin centre was part of cultural and heritage redevelopment efforts

Netizens had asked MCCY to be more transparent with the public about how complex the construction of NAC’s bin centre really was.

MCCY replied to netizens calls for greater transparency in the Government’s Factually website and said that the rubbish bin centre was “part of redevelopment for the Civic District which is an important cultural and heritage area for Singapore.”

The Ministry went on to explain why the project was complex and complicated, and said that it was not a “simple bin centre to be built” because there were three stakeholders involved in the project – Asian Civilisation Museum, Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall.

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More Accountablity from MCCY Minister over S$410,000 Bin Consultancy Fees

That’s the bin at the National Arts Centre that required S$410,000 in consultation fees to build. The total cost of the bin came up to S$470,000.

The “unreasonably high” amount of money paid to the consultant was flagged by the Auditor-General’s Office in its latest report of lapses concerning government ministries and statutory boards.

MCCY Minister Grace Fu has defended the S$410,000 spent on consultancy, calling the bin-building project “complex” and requiring “significantly more design expertise”, but hasn’t been forthcoming with details of those involved in the project.

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S$880,000 for a Rubbish Bin Center

The National Art Council (NAC) defended its S$880,000 rubbish bin center saying that “it was not a simple bin centre to build”. Despite such “complexities”, there was no open tender called and the NAC directly engaged the Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall consultants to provide these additional consultancy services.

NAC claimed that they selected the consultants “based on an open tender for the project as a whole” and said that the bin centre was not a standalone project, but part of the redevelopment for the Civic District.

For the S$880,000 price tag, NAC said they compared the quoted fee against fees for other complex projects. However, no example of the “complex projects” was mentioned.

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NAC defends itself with new statement on bin centre saga

Nobody would disagree with the need for the redevelopment of the Civic District and the need for consultancy services for any construction projects. It also did not matter if the bin centre is serving 3 or 30 buildings.

The public is just wondering the logic behind spending roughly about the same amount for the consultancy services and constructing the bin centre itself. This was what AGO has highlighted.

AGO highlighted that NAC had failed to use the norm methodology which is using a percentage of the quoted fee over the construction cost, to assess the fee. If we were to use, say, a typical consultancy and design fee of 10%, the consultancy fee would then become $50,000. Are there no Singaporean consultants willing to take on the design of the bin centre for $50,000?

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MINISTER INSISTS $470,000 NAC BIN CENTER IS ACCEPTABLE DESPITE DAMNING AGO REPORT

4 times the AGO Report emphasised that the fees paid to the consultants were "exceptionally high". Yet, the minister says the costs (fees) paid were "acceptable".

What's the AGO Report for, if ministers can disregard it and make their own pronouncements? When they overpay, oh it's OK. It's "acceptable". Just ‪#‎ownselfsayownselfnowrong‬ can already. Case closed.

When they accuse others of overpaying, wah all hell break loose. All kinds of evils released to attack for days and months and years. They not only want your flesh, they also want your blood and your bones too. Like hyenas.

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related:
AGO Report 2015/2016
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