The spiralling project costs have tarnished the first years of Scottish devolution. Politicians are worried that public disaffection with the project, which has to be financed through Scottish reserves, will turn into dissatisfaction with the system of government.
MSPs will soon be able to gauge the mood of the general public. Local elections are being held on 1 May and some predict that voters will stay away in protest over the handling of the project.
To prevent large cost overruns occurring again the Scottish Executive is set to appoint a construction tsar who will liase with government departments during future projects.
The tsar is expected to be appointed from within the construction industry and he or she will head an independent body that will ensure that procurement best practice is followed. The news is expected to be confirmed in a Scottish government report to be published next month entitled Modernising Construction .
The move follows an announcement from Scottish Labour leader Jack McConnell that he would launch a public investigation into the project if Labour retains power in the local elections. The move is seen as a placatory gesture towards voters upset by the project, which originally was budgeted at £40m.
The announcement came amid more bad news. Last Thursday it was revealed in a leaked government report that taxpayers would have to foot another unexpected bill, this time for £4m.
The sum was paid to US curtain walling contractor Flour City just before it went bust. Some MSPs are saying that main contractor Bovis should be responsible for the loss as it recommended Flour City months before it went to the wall.
The project was also criticised earlier this month in an independent report. It claimed there had been a substantial overpayment of fees to the architect EMBT/RMJM and stated that Bovis had been chosen because the firm had a previous working relationship with a senior Scotland Office official.
A procurement tsar might not put a lid on all cost overruns but at least they will be able to use their industry expertise to spot where the extra expenses are likely to occur. It' s a shame, though, that the appointment wasn't made at the project's outset in 1997.