Consultant: Southwest light rail project needs better software, communications

A consultant recommends the Metropolitan Council use better accounting software and communication protocols for its troubled Southwest light rail project.

Gov. Mark Dayton ordered the review after the Met Council revealed it had underestimated the project's price tag by $341 million.

Mike Wilson, managing director for the Accenture consulting firm, said the problems he uncovered were relatively minor.

"The project office team has the right capabilities and are operating at a level expected for a project of this size," he said. "So we had a positive review of that. Going through some of the various areas, though, we still found some areas we thought could be improved, and those were the basis for some of the recommendations."

Noting that cost projections were tracked using Microsoft Excel, Wilson said the program wasn't integrated with the software used to manage the project's schedule. The review also found communication was lacking when Hennepin County handed the project off to the Met Council.

The review will cost the Met Council up to $175,000 in consulting fees.

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