New Auditor General Alastair
Swarbrick has been surprised by how interested Cayman Islands residents are in
him and what he does. It seems that back in his native Scotland, most ordinary
members of the public don’t even know what an auditor general does.
Certainly, the same was true here
in the Cayman Islands for a long time – at least until Dan Duguay came along.
Cayman’s former auditor general
raised the profile of the position here with his fearless value-for-money
investigations, his willingness to talk to the press and his refusal to back
down from political pressures. In Mr. Duguay’s six-plus years here, the
position of auditor general in the Cayman Islands went from one of quiet obscurity
to front-page controversy. Most members of the Cayman public loved the way he
did the job.
The reason for this new-found
interest in the auditor general’s position comes from the fact that Cayman has
so few effective government watchdogs in the civil service. In the past, what happened in government
tended to stay in government, especially when it came to not getting value for
money for government spending.
Before the Freedom of Information
Law opened more doors, special reports of the auditor general were one of the
only ways the public had to know if its tax dollars were being spent
wisely. In many cases, the auditor
general’s reports showed they were not.
Unlike in years past, a more
informed Cayman public now demands to know how government is spending the
country’s money. This is how it should
be, and we learned in the time Mr. Duguay was here that we could rely on him to
help keep us informed, even if providing that information landed him in hot
water with the government of the day.
There are, therefore, big
expectations for Mr. Swarbrick. Although he might not have expected the kind of
notoriety the auditor general’s position holds here, he certainly seems to
understand the importance of the Cayman Islands government getting value for
the money it spends. We can only hope he goes about determining that with the
same fearlessness Mr. Duguay did, even if he adopts a less-controversial