CCTV audit widens

The Cayman Islands government’s
mounting woes over a questionable bid selection for a US$185 million loan
facility are not the only trouble afflicting the administration regarding its
use of the tendering process.

The Auditor General’s office confirmed Friday it is looking into the entire government bidding process after concerns were raised about another major public procurement.

Officials with the Auditor
General’s office said Wednesday that they were looking into the bidding
process involved in selecting a security firm to install new closed-circuit
television public safety monitoring cameras.

“The auditor general has commenced
an audit of the bidding process (for CCTV),” said Audit Manager Martin Ruben.
“Work has already begun.”

But the review won’t stop there. 

“As a result of a request by the Governor, a discussion with the Premier, and audit work I have recently commenced on the National Closed Circuit Television tendering process, I have decided to conduct a wider scope audit of the government’s procurement process at this time,” said Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick.

“There have been concerns raised that the current procurement process followed by the Cayman Islands Government does not obtain results that ensure the best value for money,” said Mr. Swarbrick,    “Therefore, the audit will focus on this aspect and other areas of the procurement process.”

The audit will commence immediately and is planned to be reported to the Legislative Assembly early in 2011.

Questions had been raised privately
about bidding for the CCTV contract and the bid selection was delayed for about
a month and a half. However, the government’s Portfolio of Internal and
External Affairs has declined to answer Caymanian Compass questions about those
issues on a number of occasions. 

The eventual bid winner, The
Security Centre, was chosen as the recommended provider by members of the
Central Tenders Committee following a 3 September meeting, the Compass has
learned. The Compass has made an open records request for the minutes of that 3
September meeting, but the government has not responded to the request within
the 30 days required by law. 

According to Security Centre Chief
Executive Officer Stuart Bostock, his company was notified that it had
submitted the winning bid on 21 October – about six weeks later.

“What happened between early September
and October 21st is what the auditor general is investigating, I would
imagine,” Mr. Bostock said.

There was no reason given for the
apparent delay in the selection of the CCTV bid winner. Mr. Bostock said he was
pleased The Security Centre was eventually chosen for the job.

Several local firms bid on the
contract – which is expected to be worth somewhere between $2 million and $4
million – earlier this year. The proposals sought a company that could install
more than 300 public surveillance cameras in areas around Grand Cayman and
Cayman Brac. 

The cameras are set up to feed
directly back to the 911 Emergency Communications Centre where they will be
monitored and recorded.

It is the first time such a
country-wide public surveillance system has been contemplated in the Cayman
Islands, although a number of private sector businesses have set up CCTV
systems on their own properties. The community of North Side has also set up
its own CCTV public surveillance system with donations from private interests.   

1 COMMENT

  1. The United Kingdom is seen as a pioneer of mass surveillance. At the end of 2006 it was described by the Surveillance Studies Network as being ‘the most surveilled country’ among the industrialized Western states.

    On 6 February 2009 a report by the House of Lords Constitution Committee, Surveillance: Citizens and the State, warned that increasing use of surveillance by the government and private companies is a serious threat to freedoms and constitutional rights, stating that "The expansion in the use of surveillance represents one of the most significant changes in the life of the nation since the end of the Second World War. Mass surveillance has the potential to erode privacy. As privacy is an essential pre-requisite to the exercise of individual freedom, its erosion weakens the constitutional foundations on which democracy and good governance have traditionally been based in this country."

Comments are closed.