Cameras proposed for gov’t fuel depot

The former head of the Department
of Vehicle and Emergency Services said last week that his old employer was
looking into the possibility of installing surveillance cameras at the government
fuelling station on North Sound

The move comes after an internal
government audit – followed by a review of that report by the Cayman Islands
Auditor General’s office – found numerous instances where fuel had been taken
from the depot under “suspicious” circumstances.

A few government departments
admitted last week before the Public Accounts Committee that they were aware of
certain situations where government fuel cards had been abused. However, most
stated that the auditor general’s estimates of some $500,000 in fuel bought for
non-governmental purposes between January 2008 and March 2009 were overblown.

The auditor’s report also pointed
out that no surveillance cameras were used at the fuelling station, despite it
being a 24 hour, seven day a week operation.

Retired Department of Vehicle and
Emergency Services Director Dale Dacres told the Legislative Assembly’s Public
Accounts Committee last week that’s about to change.

“We’ve decided to install cameras,”
Mr. Dacres said, adding that the department would also consider making
adjustments to its fuel distribution monitoring system – known as GASBOY – to
prevent potential abuses from occurring in the future.

The audit of the fuel card system
was conducted following an earlier review of the inventory controls at the
government fuel depot, Internal Audit Unit Acting Director Don House told the
committee last week.

Mr. Dacres told the committee that
department staff was only on site at the fuel depot during business hours. But
he said the need for fuel, particularly among the emergency services
departments, was not limited to business hours.

Public Accounts Committee Chairman
Ezzard Miller asked Mr. Dacres whether he though the current GASBOY system
needed to be replaced.

Mr. Dacres said he believed the
GASBOY fuel monitoring system could work if government departments properly
policed the process. But he said it was not the responsibility of the
Department of Vehicle and Emergency Services to do that for the other agencies.

“We don’t want to tell the Public
Works Department how to run its business,” Mr. Dacres said. “It would be better
in the future for heads of (government) departments to assign these cards with
a written fuel use agreement.”

“We need the respective officers in
those agencies to say ‘we’re using the correct amount of fuel and we’re getting
good value for money.’”

The Cayman Islands Petroleum
Inspectorate is researching various fuel card systems to potentially acquire
one that will improve some of the weaknesses in the GASBOY product.

Former Auditor General Dan Duguay
said earlier in the month that this type of scrutiny of the fuel card system
what the internal audit review and his own office’s report were intending bring
about in the first place.

“I would hope the government is
taking a serious look at the current fuel system,” Mr. Duguay said.