Auditor General told there will be competition
Auditor General Dan Duguay confirmed he has been told by Acting Governor Donovan Ebanks there will be a competition for his job and that he must apply if he wants to keep it.
Mr. Duguay said Mr. Ebanks told him the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office had concurred with the decision.
‘He told me he had consulted with the FCO and they were on board with the concept that this should be a competition,’ Mr. Duguay said.
The auditor general’s three-year contract – the second one he has had – is up on 7 February 2010. Mr. Duguay said he has been trying to find out the status of his employment for nearly four months.
‘I put in a notice that I wanted to renew my contract on 18 August,’ he said, adding that he has never heard anything back in writing.
‘But I did discuss it with [former Governor Stuart Jack] a couple of times. He said he was going to consult and get back to me. He said he would talk to me before he left, but he didn’t.’
Mr. Jack left his post in the Cayman Islands for good on 2 December. Mr. Ebanks will serve as acting governor until Duncan Taylor arrives in January to take up the post of governor.
When he didn’t hear back from Mr. Jack before he left, Mr. Duguay contacted Mr. Ebanks to see about the status of his renewal. The two met last Tuesday, which is when Mr. Duguay said he was told about the competition for his job.
Mr. Duguay said it was too soon to say if he would apply again.
‘I’m disappointed that I would have to apply for my job,’ he said. ‘I would have hoped my work was appreciated while I have been here and seen as useful in the development of accountability in the Cayman Islands.’
Mr. Duguay said Mr. Ebanks also said that the process of job competition would take longer than the time remaining on his employment contract. Mr. Ebanks offered him a three-month extension, but Mr. Duguay is not sure he can accept that.
‘I told [Mr. Ebanks] I would need some time to think about it,’ he said. ‘I’ve spoken to him since and he said I would have to give him a response by Tuesday. I told him I didn’t know if I’d be in a position to accept a contract extension by then. I may have to consider other options.’
Mr. Duguay said the news had come very suddenly and there were a number of things to consider, including his wife’s contract with the Complaint Commissioner’s Office, which runs through 4 July 2010.
‘I’ve been trying to resolve this for the past three and a half months, so I don’t feel pressured to answer immediately,’ he said.
When contacted, Mr. Ebanks declined to discuss the matter.
‘Dan’s employment is an issue between he and I at the moment and I don’t really have any further comment beyond that,’ he said.
Operation Tempura audit
Some of Mr. Duguay’s special reports over the past six years have been harshly criticised by some of the parties involved in the matters being investigated.
One report issued this year delved into the UK Metropolitan Police’s controversial investigation into alleged police corruption and drew the ire of several top people associated with Cayman’s civil service.
When asked if that report could have something to do with the competition for his job, Mr. Duguay conceded it might.
‘That was a very difficult report to get clearance on,’ he said. ‘During the process of writing the report, we became aware that a lot of people were very upset about different aspects of the report.’
Mr. Duguay said both Mr. Jack and Mr. Ebanks expressed their objections to the way the report was written.
‘Both made comments about how they thought the report should be adjusted,’ he said. ‘The ex-governor wrote several times about things he wanted included. I can say that not everything the governor wanted in the report was ultimately included in the report.’
In addition, Mr. Duguay said someone else had threatened to sue him over the report.
Mr. Duguay believes the Tempura report was one his office had to do, but he admitted that he might have done things differently had he known it could cost him his job.
‘If I had known the report could jeopardise my job, it would have been a lot safer not to do it.’
Mr. Duguay said the fact that there will be a competition for his job could have an effect on the performance of any auditor general.
‘My concern is that if the auditor general has to go every three years and fight for his job, he might have that in the back of his mind when deciding what audits to do and what to say [in the reports],’ he said.
Because of the possibility of feeling threatened about their job, Mr. Duguay said auditor generals in other jurisdictions normally get longer contracts. He said in Canada, auditor generals get 10-year contracts and in Bermuda they get lifetime contracts.
‘There’s always a concern for auditor generals that they not only be independent, but that they also feel independent,’ he said.
‘If this is going to be the norm; that they’re going to have a competition for the job at the end of every contract, then I think the auditor general’s contract needs to be more in line with the length of the Information Commissioner and the Complaints Commissioner,’ he said, noting that both of those positions have five-year terms.