Northward Prison projects delayed, over budget

HM Prison Northward wood work main

The construction of a vocational centre for inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward in Grand Cayman came in 16 per cent over budget, while a new cell block for prisoners remains under construction about four years after it started.  

These issues were among the problems identified in an Internal Audit Unit report obtained by the Caymanian Compass.  

The audit was completed in July at the request of the government Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs. The review found several deficiencies within the bidding and planning process for some of the works.  

According to the audit, more than $1 million was spent between government’s 2008/09 fiscal year and now on the new cell block. However, construction on the building was halted in the 2009/10 year “due to a number of planning requirements” which have to be resolved.  

“Due to their anticipation of a brisk start and early completion of the new cell block, HM prison service spent the stated amounts in the financial year 08/09,” the internal audit report read. “The majority of funds were spent on materials, some of which are still at suppliers’ site[s].”  

The 7,200-foot vocational training centre for Northward, which is used to re-educate and re-skill inmates in preparation for their return to society, cost nearly $614,000 and has been substantially completed, according to Cayman Islands government auditors.  

The total amount represented a cost overrun of nearly $100,000 – roughly 16 per cent above the original budget – and that overrun was expected to increase with the installation of a security fence for the building. “No certification of completion was seen, as such it is uncertain whether further capital costs will be incurred in the building,” the audit report stated.  

The building time for the centre was set for about six months and was due to occur between August and September 2009. However, auditors revealed that some $328,895 was spent on the project during financial year 2010/11; a year after the project should have been completed.  

“[The prison director] stated that the initial time and cost estimates mentioned above were predicated largely on the use of prison labour,” the audit stated. “However, because of the transient natures of members of the prison population, the expected results in terms of time and cost of the project were not achieved as intended.”  

There was no approved project plan for the vocational centre, auditors found. There was also a lack of records regarding project costing and labour costs.  


Bids ‘subverted’ 

Government auditors also found evidence that bids issued for various work within the prison service were to companies that missed bid deadlines in two specific cases, and that tendering rules were completely disregarded on some of the projects.  

For instance, during the construction of the new prison cell block between July 2008 and October 2011, there were four transactions that amounted to more than $50,000 that were “neither offered for public tender nor evaluated by a tenders committee”.  

The total amount for the four transactions, $278,545, was spent between March 2009 and December 2010.  

“We gathered that the suppliers used were the [prisons service] preferred supplier for the particular items,” the audit report stated. “We also noted a general absence of quotations or other relevant documentation to evidence the use of quotations from at least three suppliers for [prisons service] purchases of less than $50,000.”  

The procurements were not in line with government regulations, auditors said.  

Prisons management noted that a “complete review” of the procurement process would be conducted and new policies implemented by the end of this month. 

HM Prison Northward wood work

Prison Director Dwight Scott, right, looks on as work goes on at the wood shop at Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward. The inmate vocational facility in Grand Cayman has faced serious cost overruns, according to auditors. – Photo: Stuart Wilson


  1. I am not sure that this so called complete review by the proven out of control prisons management gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Anything these people do relating to money and its spending should be reviewed by auditors before it is acted on.

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