Independent verification – reducing project risk

Published on
April 23, 2013

Construction of major projects such as roads, tunnels and hospitals provide enormous benefits for communities.

Construction also involves high risk for clients (who can be government or Public Private Partnerships) if stakeholders are not well managed.

Stakeholders have the ability to delay or even stop projects if they feel they have not been consulted, and their issues acknowledged, addressed and, in some cases, resolved. This trend towards increasing stakeholder activism is due to an increasing expectation (and often legislation) to engage those impacted during construction, coupled with a rise in the use of social media channels (such as Facebook and Twitter) to escalate issues of concern.

Fortunately many project risks, including stakeholder engagement, can be managed through independent verification – an investigation into the validity and preservation of contractual requirements of all parties, by an organisation that is free from project obligation.

Several major projects have used independent verification to manage project risk, including the Adelaide Desalination Plant, South Australian Seaford Rail extension, the Ipswich Motorway upgrade, Brisbane Airport Link, Legacy Way and Gold Coast Rapid Transit Project.

The Gold Coast Rapid Transit is the first project in Queensland to require communication and stakeholder engagement independent verification as part of the Project Contract – a full-time role Rowland is fulfilling from the project office on the Gold Coast.

The inclusion of communication and stakeholder engagement in independent verification heralds a new era in stakeholder management in Queensland.

From a practical perspective, an independent verifier’s role includes daily project monitoring, providing strategic advice free from prejudice, conducting detailed audits, performing risk assessments and, where necessary, assisting with dispute resolution.

Working as part of the independent verification team (a Hyder/AAP JV), Rowland is responsible for ensuring the proponent is compliant with all community and stakeholder requirements outlined in the contractual documents.

An independent verifier provides the client with confidence that contractual requirements are met, project risks are identified, and effective verification and monitoring systems are established. Overall, this becomes a critical role and an important part of the project’s overall success.