The Cayman Islands Auditor General’s Office is “monitoring” a number of ongoing government bidding processes and capital projects to ensure value for money is achieved, Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick confirmed Wednesday.
Those projects include the proposed George Town cruise berthing facility, certain aspects of the ForCayman Alliance agreement between the Dart group of companies and the government, the proposed wastewater system divestment and a review of government’s information technology infrastructure.
Some of the information being reviewed will be discussed in an audit of governance within the Cayman Islands, Mr. Swarbrick said.
“The governance audit is quite wide-ranging, across core government works and statutory authorities as well,” he said. “We’re monitoring … all these projects to see what is going on.”
“Monitoring”, according to Mr. Swarbrick, essentially means asking for information as to the status of certain projects, including bidding procedures and contractor works.
For the most part, auditors had received cooperation in their efforts thus far, Mr. Swarbrick said. “No one’s just blowing us off,” he said.
The reviews of ongoing projects are significant because it represents a departure from previous practice at the auditor general’s office, which was not to perform audits of ongoing projects.
However, issues raised in earlier reviews of government bidding and procurement practices caused auditors concern over whether government officials were following the rules when purchasing supplies, services and assets.
Moreover, that report found “significant evidence” of political interference in some of the bidding for those projects.
“This obviously raises significant concerns from our perspective,” Mr. Swarbrick said last year. “We will be looking at procurements as they go forward and potentially before they’re finished as well.”
Mr. Swarbrick acknowledged government may feel there is a significant difference between publicly bid projects and public-private partnerships or privately financed initiatives.
“They can have the policy decision about going out for a loan or building a port, but at the end of the day we’re talking about a process which is to try and achieve value for money … and that has to be open and transparent,” Mr. Swarbrick said.
The auditor general previously released a report on procurement for a US$185 million loan initially awarded to a New York financing firm, the first phase of the public closed-circuit television camera installation, and various purchasing for the Cayman Islands Jazz Fest.
Problems with bidding in at least two of the three projects were revealed between 2010 and 2011.
The governance audit that is likely to be released before the end of this year will come in four separate parts, Mr. Swarbrick said. Two reports will be informational pieces and two others will consist of some reporting of audit work within central government and central government’s relationship with statutory authorities and government-owned companies.