Dan Duguay bids adieu

Dan Duguay, who has been Cayman’s
auditor general for six years, leaves his office for the last time Friday.

Mr. Duguay’s last week as the
country’s government spending watchdog was busier than he expected because of a
Public Accounts Committee that was called for Thursday. It was his last of
scores of appearances before the committee, many of which have been
contentious.

“My last full day in the office
will be at the LA dealing with two of the last three reports we’ve done. I
guess that’s a fitting way to go out,” he said.

During his six years as the auditor
general, his office has completed 16 value for money reports, some of which
have led to criticism from some members of the public and several politicians.

Among his reports have been
investigations into Boatswain’s Beach, the police helicopter, the Matrix scrap
metal deal, the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal and the post-Ivan insurance
settlements.

One of his most recent reports was
an update on the state of government financial accountability reporting which
he described as “dismal” and a “national crisis”. This report led to a barrage
of criticism in a recent Legislative Assembly meeting.

Mr. Duguay, in an interview with
the Caymanian Compass, fired back at
Premier McKeeva Bush for a statement the Premier read at the meeting of the
Legislative Assembly last week. Mr. Bush said the report “significantly lacked
in usefulness” and did not provide any solutions. In closing his statement, Mr.
Bush said: “Liars can also figure sometimes and figures lie,” – a comment Mr.
Duguay strongly objects to.

“When you say ‘liars figure and
figures lie’, that in my mind is unacceptable. That’s not open discussion.
That’s just mudslinging and it should not happen here. It should not happen to
any civil servant… I hope that with the new auditor general, [discussions]
will go to a higher level,” Mr. Duguay said.

He added: “I was discouraged [by
the reaction to the report]… Mr. Bush said it was inaccurate, but the Finance
Ministry signed off on it… It felt like they were trying to shoot the messenger.”

Public Accounts

Reports done by the Auditor
General’s Office are submitted to the Public Accounts Committee for scrutiny
and discussion and the committee draws up a report. Mr. Duguay said there had
been “a love/hate relationship” between his office and the PAC over the years.

He said he was reminded of one PAC
report that disagreed with his findings that the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal
was financially viable, but “poorly planned and managed”. The PAC’s report said
the auditor general’s report had unsubstantiated comments.

“They said they disagreed with my
comments. I don’t see any factual basis for it, quite frankly… At the end of the
day the committee wrote a report that I don’t think was supported by the facts
that were there. I did not say it at the time, but I was extremely disappointed
in that.

“PACs are supposed to be as
non-political a committee as there is but I don’t think you could view that
report they wrote as anything but political.”

Advice

Asked if he had any advice for the
incoming auditor general, Alastair Swarbrick, Mr. Duguay said he should not be
afraid to tackle the tough issues.

“Auditors general don’t need to be
controversial but they need to be resolute. As an auditor general, you have a
role to play; you have a job to do… That also means telling the politicians
when they’re not correct that they’re not correct.

“The auditor general’s office can’t
be seen as an organisation that shies away from the important issues of the day,”
he said.

New auditor

Mr. Swarbrick said in an email to
the Caymanian Compass that he was “delighted” with his appointment. “I look
forward to taking up my appointment in July. I am looking forward to working
with the Cayman Islands Audit Office team in the interests of the people of the
Cayman Islands,” he said.

Asked if he, like Mr. Duguay
planned to have a good relationship with the media and release reports to the
public, which the outgoing auditor general has been criticised for, Mr.
Swarbrick responded: “Until I take up post and had an opportunity to meet with
the Cayman Islands Audit Office Team, I won’t be making any comments apart from
to say that I subscribe to the three principles of public audit, which are the
independence of public auditors, the wider scope of the audit and the ability
of public auditors to report the results of audits in public.”

Three things

Mr. Duguay said he was especially
proud of three things that had occurred during his tenure as auditor general –
audit reports becoming public; Public Accounts Committee meetings being made
open to the public; and the familiarisation of the public with the Auditor General’s
Office.

“When I came here six years ago,
reports had been sitting there for years and years and people had not seen
them… I think when people pay us good money to do this work, they want to see
the results and I think this is my biggest accomplishment by far,” he said.
“Auditor General reports are reports for the people and the people deserve to
see them.”

Public management

The Public Management and Finance
Law, which has been blamed for the tardiness in the auditing of government
accounts came into force during Mr. Duguay’s first year on the job in 2004.

“One of the consequences of the
PMFL is this office got a lot more audits that we didn’t used to do before. We
went from one government account to 13 ministries. We doubled the audits we do.
We had 17 members of staff when I started. Over the six years, we have
increased from 17 to 20.”

Getting government departments and
statutory bodies to submit full, detailed accounts over the years has been an
uphill struggle for his office, Mr. Duguay said.

What’s next

Mr. Duguay and his wife. Susan, at
the Office of the Complaints Commissioner who leaves her job at the end of May,
will return to Canada in June and take the summer off, attending the weddings
of two of their children.

After that, Mr. Duguay said he
hoped to ease his way into retirement and in the meantime return to teaching
auditing and working internationally.

Memories

He said that the last month he has
spent in Cayman has probably been the best time he’s had here as people have
been stopping him in the street, wishing him well and saying they were sad to
see him go.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time in
Cayman. It’s a great place to work and live… I know I’ve had difficulties in
the past with politicians. I’ll probably forget those wounds down the line, but
I will always remember the people of Cayman for their honesty and generosity to
us,” he said.

Mr. Duguay, who applied to have his
contract renewed but was not chosen from the shortlist of candidates by
Governor Duncan Taylor, said he was “disappointed, but not surprised” by the
decision.

He said he did not know if he was
not chosen because Premier Bush had stated publically that he did not want him
to have the job, but warned against the public perceiving that.

“What I’m worried about is the idea
that some people have that the governor caved in to the pressure from the
premier because the premier had stated publically that I should not have the
job. I don’t think that’s a good precedent.

“I don’t know what the truth is and
I’m going not to comment on that, but this idea that the auditor general’s
office can be subject to political pressure is one that concerns me greatly.”

In his parting comments, Mr. Duguay
said he had “loved working and living” in Cayman.

“We hope to come back and visit and
although I’m sorry that I won’t be here longer as the auditor general, I hope
that people will see that I always tried to do the best I could in situations
and I hope we are ultimately seen as something that helped the Cayman Islands,
after Ivan and throughout these difficult times.

“I don’t want to be seen as someone
who was disruptive to government; the goal was always to assist government.
Hopefully someone with some perspective will see that clearer than some people
see it today.”

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Two Taps and a salute to you Mr. Duguay.. Thanks for your diligent and comprehensive service as our auditor general.. Telling the hard truth at the expense of your employment only reinforces your integrity and good standing.. Who would believe that in this day and age, Generals still fall on their swords..

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