Auditor finds political meddling in bid process

An audit completed on Cayman’s public contract bidding has
revealed several instances of political interference in the day-to-day
operations of the procurement process.

Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick said in his office’s
report that the instances of interference in the bid process were creating
“risk, uncertainty and morale problems” in government operations.

“We found evidence that some politicians are not complying
with the procurement rules that have been established… and, in some cases,
contravening the laws and regulations [of the bid process],” Mr. Swarbrick
said. “In other countries, the practice of politicians being involved in the
administration of government’s transactions has resulted in cases of corruption
and abuse.“

Mr. Swarbrick expressed concern that limited “checks and
balances” exist when government transactions are conducted outside of the
established bid process.

A management response was requested from the Cayman Islands
Deputy Governor’s office in early June to the specific points raised in the
audit of government procurement. Mr. Swarbrick said his office received some
comments from the deputy governor’s office, but that officials had not provided
responses to the auditor’s recommendations at the time the report was issued.

A separate report on deficiencies auditors found in other
areas of the bidding process can be found on page 9 of today’s paper.

The auditor general’s office did not “name names” with
regard to specific instances where political interference in the bidding process
had occurred. However, the report did list several particular instances where
auditors documented the interference.

“We were told of a number of recent situations when
political interference had created uncertainty and angst among government
employees,” Mr. Swarbrick said.

 

Those cases included:

In one case, politicians met with middle managers in the
civil service to question the decision they made on contract procurement

Politicians directed the appointment of individuals who were
not government officials to a departmental tendering committee. The government
employees in this case were told they could not participate in evaluating the
bids for a contract. Departmental tendering committees are used in some areas
of government to weight options for publicly bid contracts prior to those
matters going to the Central Tenders Committee, which makes final
recommendations of how contracts are awarded.

In a third case, Cabinet members reviewed the results of a
tendering process and held up the announcement of the winning bidder. During
the delay, politicians repeatedly questioned officials about the decision.

“We found a senior public servant who submitted his
resignation to the government as a last resort to demonstrate his unease with
the level of political override that was occurring and the impacts it was
having on his ability to do his job effectively,” Mr. Swarbrick wrote.

The auditor’s report also stated that three individuals on
the Central Tenders Committee resigned, leaving just five people serving on the
government-appointed board. Other departmental tendering committees also saw
resignations because members simply didn’t want to participate, auditors found.

“We found evidence that public servants no longer want to
participate in the procurement functions,” the report noted.

 

Statutory authorities

Political interference was not limited to elected ministers
or MLAs in the operations of central government, the auditor general found.

Two statutory authorities were reviewed as part of the audit
as well. Statutory authorities are public entities that operate separately from
government and are typically overseen by an appointed board. The two
authorities reviewed as part of the audit were not named.

Mr. Swarbrick said board members of those authorities were
involved in day-to-day operations of the bid process – including the
negotiation of sizable contracts with outside entities and suppliers.

“Similar to political override, there are limited checks and
balances for the transactions that are conducted ‘outside’ the administrative
processes in place,” Mr. Swarbrick said. “As a result, there are increased
risks of fraud and corruption associated with these types of transactions.”

Auditors generally recommended that government should
clearly communicate, through either laws or policy, what roles politicians and
board members play in the bid process. Appropriate sanctions were recommended
in cases where transgressions of those roles occur.

1 COMMENT

  1. And here we go again. The government not following laid out policies and procedures? Cant be.

    Lets face it folks, when politicians put their fingers into the pie where they dont belong, the result will always be corruption which seems to be a very familiar position for this government.

    Leaders cannot be cowboys and unfortunately the King of Cowboys goes by the name of Bush. Maybe we should rename him Wild Bush. Keep your fingers out of the pie Mr. Bush. And remember, you are the Captain of the ship and everything you and your mates do, it all comes back to you.

  2. @Bubba – You said, when politicians put their fingers into the pie where they dont belong, the result will always be corruption which seems to be a very familiar position for this government… Keep your fingers out of the pie Mr. Bush.

    Bubba, I am afraid, you are not seeing the full picture. Instead, you are indirectly implying that Mr. Bush and politicians, may dip thier fingers in the socalled pie, and that would entail some involvement of corruption. But that is not always the case.

    Although corruption is possible, there is abuse of finances as well, and mere waste of funds.

    Let us not be so quick to cry out corruption on anyone. Corruption and fraud are serious allegations, and could ruin the reputation of the Cayman Islands if there is evidence to pin it down on one of our politicians. Note the AG has just given a 40-page report of the potentials of financial mismanagement.
    Refrain from using politician’s name if there is no evidence.

  3. @God the Source

    Are you that short minded? Think back only to the last episode where Mr. Bush said he was not having any part of the tendering process for the financing of Caymans borrowings.HE made the decision.He was acting in the best interest of the country. He took upon himself to decide on somethnig against that process. He said that and not me, so i’m standing on pretty solid ground when I make my accusation. We never did find out the cost of HIS blunder.I could go on but readers have better things to do. I made my point and I substantiated it. I dont need to imply anything.

  4. Tendering process frustrates the process of getting a project up and running. The projects between CHEC and Mac has nothing to do with the Cayman Islands government funds. What is there to worry about? Only the Governor, FCO, and AG appears to be worried about it. The bidding process is between CHEC, a private entity and Government. Because there is political interferences in a tendering committee or the Premier does not believe in following a guideline, which of course is not mandatory law – Does not mean he is engaging in corrupt dealings? You may say though that it raises suspicions, but a suspicion and having the liberty to interfere, does not mean corruption or fraud. Comprende?

  5. Everyone in Cayman needs to prepare themselves to answer directly to the Queen. The writing is on the wall and ground work is being laid. And the funny thing is that it seems like Caymans own leaders laid all the ground work for them to wlak right in. One has to wonder if they will get some kind of bonus in the end for all thier help in handing Cayman over to the UK.

  6. GodtheSource

    Are you for real ?

    Or is your real name McKeeva Bush ?

    The public tenders processes are mandated by law in the Cayman Islands; if this wern’t so, the Auditor General would have no authority or responsibility to report on the abuse of the process and the potential for corruption that this abuse creates.

    The former AG reported of 500,000 worth of fuel theft(calling a spade a spade) and ran afoul of the political heirarchy; bye bye Mr. Duguay.

    Your beloved Premier Bush has publicly and intentionally bypassed the public tenders process in the financing deal with Cohen, of which Cayman has heard no more after it fell through, has signed a contract with GLF on the cruiseship berth development project that has now been cancelled…

    And the CI Government is facing a legal challenge by GLF over this cancellation and…

    The project has been arbitrarily handed to a Chinese company against the advice of the board of the Port Authority, leading to resignations in protest…

    And again, your beloved Premier is himself, personally, the subject of an on-going RCIPS investigation requested by the judiciary…

    Does any of this not ring alarma bells to you?

    It has been reported that Governor Duncan Taylor has requested the deputy Governor, Donovan Ebanks to look into the process of public procurements…which will…

    Inadvertently have him clashing with your beloved Mr. Bush.

    There are bullies for bullies and if you and others do not see where the actions of your beloved McKeeva Bush is heading then…

    When the British Government steps into Cayman and begins to bully Mr. Bush and his brainwashed supporters…

    You certainly won’t be able to say you didn’t ask for it.

    Take the actions and words of your Governor as a warning that this might be a lot closer around the corner than you expect…

    If your beloved Premier McKeeva Bush is not brought to heel and made to respect and follow the laws of the Cayman Islands very quickly.

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