Today’s Editorial for March 5: Quantity over quality

When Ezzard Miller became chairman
of the Public Accounts Committee shortly after the general elections last May,
he promised to clear the long backlog of undone work. 

In particular, Mr. Miller said the
PAC would deal with 10 backlogged reports of the auditor general by September
of 2010. True to his word, the PAC has been getting through the reports much
more quickly than the previous PAC did.

Although it is all very well to see
these reports dealt with expeditiously, we are dismayed at the cursory fashion
the PAC is dealing with the reports.

In particular, we feel Auditor General
Dan Duguay’s review of the debt financing arrangements for Boatswain’s Beach
was given little more than a rubber stamp by the PAC, and a faulty rubber stamp
at that.

That auditor general’s report was
extremely harsh in its comments.   Mr.
Duguay even stated that in his 30 years of government auditing, he had
difficulty thinking of any situation that showed such a cavalier attitude to
the expenditure of public funds.

Yet despite the harsh language, the
PAC didn’t feel it necessary to call a single witness in compiling its
report.  In addition, the PAC’s comments
on the whole 29-page auditor general’s report were contained in one 26-word sentence
that endorsed Mr. Duguay’s conclusion that the government received a “good
deal” when arranging financing for the Boatswain’s Beach project.

This conclusion makes us wonder if
the PAC members even read the auditor general’s report, because although Mr. Duguay
concluded the government got a good deal in ultimate the financing secured for
the Boatswain’s Beach project, he did not think they got such a good deal when
taking into account the amount of fees paid to get that financing.

For the PAC to ignore everything
but the “good deal” conclusion is really a white wash of facts and it does
nobody in this country any good. At the very least, the PAC could have made
recommendations on how to avoid overspending on financing fees in the future.

But in their rush to meet Mr.
Miller’s ambitious timeline, the PAC seems to have chosen quantity over quality
when it comes to its reports.