For the longest serving employee in the auditor general’s office, Garnet Harrison, times have changed pretty rapidly over 12 years in the job.
When the deputy AG first started in the Cayman Islands, there was only one computer with an Internet connection in the office.
Employees, some of whom didn’t have their own computer, would sign up to go online for short time periods each day.
Mr. Harrison said: “I have seen a big transformation in terms of our office becoming more computer literate.
Now everyone is on BlackBerrys, you have Internet access at all times. Our work is done using a computer based audit programme.
“That’s made quite a difference to our audit processes.”
When Mr. Harrison first took the job, the auditor general’s office was based in the Tower Building.
They moved from there to the current location on Shedden Road in down town George Town in July 2004.
As it turned out the timing was fortuitous.
“Almost immediately after that, Hurricane Ivan hit and destroyed the Tower Building. We were very fortunate, in that, because all our records would have been ruined.
“A lot of the records were paper-based back then. We would have had some of it backed up but it is not like nowadays where everything is electronic.”
Hurricane Ivan had other implications for the Auditor General’s Office. In the aftermath of the storm, the office took responsibility for ensuring foreign aid got to the people it was intended for.
“We took on the role of ensuring aid donated to the government was distributed properly. That was something that came on the radar after Hurricane Ivan.”
The Auditor General’s Office played a similar role on Cayman Brac after Hurricane Paloma in 2008, where tasks included signing off on delivery of power generators.
The auditors’ role often extends beyond the walls of the office.
One of the community events the team is involved with every year is the Flowers Sea Swim.
“We have volunteered at the event for more than 10 years. We register the swimmers and record their times. I think that is a fitting role for auditors,” he said.
Team building and community involvement are important attributes of the audit team, which is made up of people from all over the world.
Auditors from Kenya, the Philippines, Jamaica, Barbados, Canada and Scotland as well as the Cayman Islands are represented.
“We are a very multi-cultural office and have benefited from the various experiences people have brought.
“We truly do enjoy working with each other and are willing to challenge each other professionally to become better at what we do. “As an office, we have done many things together from working with the Flowers Sea Swim to supporting families in need at Christmas through the Department of Child and Family Services.
“We have become a close knit office and we always celebrate with staff in times of achievements and mourn with staff when they experience loss.”
Team-building exercises have included mini-golf, bowling and go-karting.
Mr. Harrison added: “One challenge this past year that one of the staff members pushed was to have a walk-off-challenge where almost all staff participated over a three-week period to see how many steps each of us took each day.”
Mr. Harrison has worked with three different auditor generals, each of whom, he believes, brought different attributes to the table.
He describes Nigel Esdaile as a “tenacious auditor general who truly worked with the government to achieve better results for the Cayman Islands residents.”
His successor Dan Dugay was big on transparency and accountability.
“He pushed government hard to become more transparent and accountable for the public resources entrusted to it. He also began to modernize the audit office by reorganizing it into value-for money and financial audit practices along with having electronic audit working papers introduced into the office. He was a big supporter of the Freedom of Information Law.”
Mr. Harrison credits current auditor general Alastair Swarbrick with updating the audit methodology to a risk based approach.
He added: “Alastair has rebranded the office and has made our own operations more transparent with the introduction of the auditor general’s website in October 2011. We now have proactive disclosures on our operations and all our Reports are readily available for the public to read. He is willing to lead by example.”