A Private Members Motion brought to the Legislative Assembly by Opposition MLA Rolston Anglin would change the way reports of the Auditor General are made public, if it is adopted.
The motion calls for an amendment to Standing Order 77(3), which states that an Auditor General’s report given to the Speaker of the House is then referred to the Public Accounts Committee for consideration and distributed to all Members on a confidential basis.
Under the rules, the PAC would then conduct its own investigation and prepare its own report before tabling everything in the House at the same time. That process, in some cases, has taken years in the past.
The amendment would make Auditor General reports public at the same time they were distributed to all other Legislative Assembly Members.
‘That’s critical for the timeliness of information,’ Mr. Anglin said in an interview. ‘The timelier the information is, the more relevant it is.’
Mr. Anglin, who is sitting on the Public Accounts Committee for the second time, knows the difficulties the PAC has in getting its reports done on a timely basis.
‘Even with all the will in the world, the PAC is still a process that takes time,’ he said. ‘You still have to call witnesses, have their testimony typed verbatim, then take it, along with the Auditor General’s report, and draft your own report.’
Mr. Anglin said the current PAC started on a report in October and is still working on it now despite a strong effort to get the PAC report done.
PAC Chairman Osbourne Bodden has also publicly supported making Auditor General’s reports public immediately after presentation to the Speaker of the House.
All of this was music to the ears of Auditor General Dan Duguay.
‘We’d be very happy if that came about,’ Mr. Duguay said. ‘We’ve been lobbying for this all along.’
Mr. Duguay was a little surprised to hear the issue was already being broached in the Legislative Assembly through an Opposition Member’s Private Motion.
‘My understanding was the government was considering this anyway,’ he said. ‘But I thought it would be dealt with as part of the PMFL (Public Management and Finance Law).’
Mr. Duguay believes the adoption of the amendment would be good for Cayman.
‘The goal of this office and me personally is to get these reports out to the public as quickly as we can,’ he said, noting that other jurisdictions like Bermuda and Canada have the Auditor General reports being made public right away with no ill effects.
‘It doesn’t hinder the PAC process, and in fact, provides another opportunity to debate the issue with another slant,’ he said.