Email blunder costs PM’s aide her job

KINGSTON, Jamaica – A Jamaica House employee who inadvertently sent out budgetary details of Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s proposed expenditure on a range of items was dismissed last Wednesday, a day after the blunder, The Gleaner has been reliably informed.

Pauline Thomas, a secretary in the communication unit in the Office of the Prime Minister, was reportedly punished for the error, a well-placed source told The Gleaner Friday.

A document detailing a range of items for the prime minister such as make-up for taping ‘Jamaica House Live’, a monthly radio call-in programme, and the printing of Christmas cards was quickly recalled by Jamaica House last Tuesday.

“Today (Tuesday), at about 12:46 p.m., an email was sent out under the subject ‘Budget’ with an attachment, ‘CommUnitBudget Appendix 2D’. The document is an internal draft and was intended for the use of a staff member,” the subsequent release advised.

On Friday, The Gleaner made contact with the Human Resources Department at the OPM for comment on the sacking of Thomas, but was directed to the communications unit.

Lois Grant, communications consultant in the OPM, said she could not confirm whether an employee was dismissed as a result of the mistake. She advised The Gleaner to contact Information Minister Olivia Grange. However, calls to her cellphone went unanswered.

Grange on Tuesday said a junior employee had mistakenly emailed the document to the media.

She asked The Gleaner not to publish the information, stressing that the email was sent to the media in error.

Hinted at penalty

However, despite acknowledging that a slip-up was made, the employee was sent home the next day.

Asked what action would be taken against the employee, Minister Grange said last Tuesday: “That’s a different story. That’s a matter that has to be dealt with tomorrow (Wednesday); there has to be an explanation.”

Meanwhile, the recalled document indicated that the prime minister’s facial appearance would receive a boost 24 times on his monthly radio programme.

The document captioned ‘purchases of other goods and services’ projected that taxpayers’ dollars be used to pay for material bearing the image or likeness of the prime minister. Golding’s profiles and calendars accounted for the lion’s share of that total.

The OPM also proposed to spend money on Christmas cards and local consultancy services.

Attempts were made to do a comparative analysis of the expenditure under previous prime ministers, P.J. Patterson and Portia Simpson Miller. However, Ms Lois referred The Gleaner to Sandra Brambridge in the Access to Information Unit at Jamaica House.

Grange insisted that the document was a proposal prepared for the permanent secretary to peruse and for the subsequent approval of the prime minister. She said she did not believe Golding would sign off on the budget.

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