FOI: $1.44M spent on gov’t building ‘fit out’

A total of $1.44 million has been spent since early 2011 on a “fit out” of an area within the third floor of the Cayman Islands government administration building. 

And, according to records received in a Freedom of Information request, the agency due to occupy the space hasn’t moved in yet.  

The Caymanian Compass sent an open records request to the Ministry of District Administration, which has responsibility for the government administration building on Elgin Avenue in George Town.  

The request stated the following: “Please provide the requested information regarding works that were performed on the third floor of the government administration building in preparation for the Maritime Authority to move into the area. Details should include what precisely were the works proposed, performed and completed; how much those works cost; how long the works took to complete; whether or not the Maritime Authority has moved or will move into the third floor of the government administration building and if so, when that will occur.”  

According to information contained in the first part of the request, a custom fit out completed and ready for occupation on 14 March, 2011, renovated a 7,625-square-foot area to accommodate 77 staff members at a cost of $1.14 million. 

The accommodation included a reception area, a board room, five closed offices, an area for the survey department, open plan office space, a kitchenette, a file room, and a “resource area”.  

The area was fully fitted out with furniture and appliances, as well as electrical wiring and data 
services requirements.  

Then in September and October of this year, another fit out was done; this time to 4,935 square feet of area to accommodate a staff of 38 at a cost of $296,529.  

“Fit out costs were much reduced as portions of the first fit out works and furniture were re-utilised,” according to the information provided under the Compass’ FOI request.  

“Maritime Authority of the Cayman Islands have not yet occupied,” the information provided in the FOI request stated.  

The information provided does not specify whether both fit out amounts dealt with changes made on behalf of the Maritime Authority. E-mails sent to the ministry seeking to clarify the matter were not answered by press time.  

A spokesperson for the Maritime Authority said Tuesday that the agency was expected to move from its existing headquarters at Strathvale House to the government administration building, but a date for that move had not been set at press time. 

The Maritime Authority is not the first proposed tenant for the third floor of the government administration building. The entire 200-plus person staff of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority was slated to move into the floor, but did not do so for various reasons. According to a report in the Compass on 4 February, 2011, government administration building project manager Jim Scott said he was told in 2010 that the Monetary Authority would need enough space to accommodate 204 staff members and would also need additional space for future expansion in the third floor area.  

Mr. Scott said at the time that the Monetary Authority’s space was custom built – at a cost of about $3.5 million – and included a data centre with a dry gas system. 

The Monetary Authority’s space also included a vault. Mr. Scott said the organisation’s ground floor currency operations would still move into the new government administration building, but that only eight people are involved with those operations. Mr. Scott said that much of the fit out could be used by other government entities and that if departments such as Computer Services made use of the data centre, even part of the fit out wouldn’t necessarily be wasted. 

According to the FOI request, the second fit out was completed and ready for accommodation as of 1 October. No explanation was provided for why the Maritime Authority had not moved in as of last week. 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. People are surely paying a lot to keep thier trusted officials comfortable these days. Millions of dollars on empty space, I guess that’s what you call value for money…

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  2. I obviously am not qualified to comment directly on the story above but my experience of public sector contracting for this kind of work in the UK was always that the companies doing the work regarded it as easy money and charged accordingly. Bluntly, we were ripped off left, right and centre.

    This was best illustrated when a friend on mine in tried to get repair work done at his indoor sports facility. The quotes were outrageous but when he queried them one of the contractors admitted that the price reflected the fact that everyone thought the work was going to be paid for by the local authority. The final bill was about one-third of the original quote (GBP1800 rather than GBP5000) and that is a very big difference.

    I can also remember things like having office furniture delivered that was billed to my public sector employer at three times the high street store prices, on which we would probably have got a good discount, for no good reason.

    The question the story obviously cannot easily address is was this fair value for money? Well was it? There must be people out there qualified to comment on that.

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  3. NJ2Cay,

    Whose people are you referring the authority or the taxpayers? It’s duty of the authority to look for comfortable space, and there is no direct taxation in Cayman so people don’t pay a lot.

    The value of money is not measured by just looking at the space, you should consider time which is the central concept of valuation.

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  4. DonQuijote,

    Good point, I was actually referring to Residents in Cayman. The taxes that are collected although not directly and a lot are called Fees or Duty, are supposed to be used to maintain the countrys infrastructure for its residents whether they be Caymanians, Expats or Foreigners living on island. My gripe is that there’s so much money wasted on shiny new buildings and toys when there’s things like the dump and highways with no lights going ignored. None of those building should have had a higher importance than the dump. The Cayman Island Culture is to Spend, Spend, Spend which is why they are in the financial situation they are currently in. A lot of people like to blame the current government for this, not making any excuses for them but it took more than 4 years to get into this mess

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