Editorial for 7 June: Misplaced blame

 Although the Cayman Islands Auditor General’s Office pointed
out this week that some improvements have been made in the government’s
issuance of employee gas cards, it is clear – at least to our view – that most
departments really weren’t paying much attention to repeated audit reports that
indicated they needed to get their act together on gas card management.

The Internal Audit Unit’s first report, detailing the 2008
to early 2009 period, drew attention to the problem within the government. It’s
not clear what was actually done in the wake of that report, but former Auditor
General Dan Duguay grabbed it up and made some splashy headlines with a
declaration that some $500,000 in government’s recorded fuel expenses might
have been used for non-government purposes.

That got everyone’s hackles up. Mr. Duguay and his office
were in for a verbal drubbing at the Public Accounts Committee, asked where
they came up with that $500,000 figure and all the various innuendos about the
auditor general’s office not being credible, playing up to the media, etc, etc,
etc.

Now comes the Internal Audit Unit, and the new Auditor
General Alastair Swarbrick, again playing up issues with fuel card expenditures
and management – in 10 different government departments and agencies from those
first reviewed.

Mr. Swarbrick has wondered aloud why the folks who read the
first internal audit report, or press accounts of it, didn’t take the
opportunity to correct issues before they were named, shamed and blamed in a
follow-up report.

This is typical of the way governments operate. If you can’t
deal with the message, shoot the messenger; or shoot the messenger’s messenger
in the form of the “irresponsible journalists” who report on these stories.

Please.

The government needs to stop looking at people to blame and
fix the problem with gas card management and usage. We are encouraged that
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson has taken a leadership role in this matter;
perhaps something besides an attempt to further vilify the auditor general’s
office may occur.

 

 

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. There are disturbing similarities between the official response to Dan Duguay’s original GASBOY audit and the reaction of certain senior civil servants to Duguay’s attempts to audit Operations Tempura and Cealt in 2009.

    It remains to be seen if the original GASBOY investigation was subject to the same level of interference as the one into Tempura/Cealt or if similar amounts of highly relevant information were withheld from it. Maybe it is time requests were made for copies of correspondence relating to the original GASBOY audit and the official reaction?

    The bottom line is that, as this editorial points out, people in CIG do not like being told they are doing things that are not just wrong but, as in this case, probably illegal and their reaction is to try and cover it all up. A move that should simply serve to make any good auditor, police officer or other investigator extremely suspicious.

    In the wake of the Tempura/Cealt audit CIG responded that lessons had been learned, a theme repeated ad nauseum by the current Governor. One of those lessons appears to have been that the easiest solution to any issues raised by the audit was to sack the Auditor General. I hope we are not going to see history repeating itself here because I want to see Mr Swarbrick’s office conduct a robust re-investigation into how Tempura/Cealt disposed of an estimated CI20million without having anything to show for it.

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  2. Let’s see if anyone can turn this into an Expat issue, because Expats obviously have a free ride, they probably have free gasoline too!

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