Turtle Farm praised despite missing goals

Other authorities didn’t set goals, auditors say

The Cayman Turtle Farm lost a lot of money and didn’t achieve some of its goals in 2011, auditors have found, but compared to many other government entities reviewed, the turtle farm was the cream of the crop in tracking goals. 

According to a review of six statutory authorities and government-owned companies by the Cayman Islands Auditor General’s office, the turtle farm was the only agency that made “considerable progress” in identifying specific performance targets and then setting out how close it came to achieving those by year’s end. 

Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick refused to identify the other five government entities or list their specific shortcomings.  

Mr. Swarbrick said specific reports on those agencies would be issued later this year. 

“The Turtle Farm case provides an important lesson to be learned … about the importance of improving their focus on results,” Mr. Swarbrick said in his report. 

Mr. Swarbrick elaborated during a press conference Wednesday, saying that setting goals and then tracking whether they are met is the only way auditors are able to determine whether value was achieved in a specific project or government initiative.  

“The [authority budget agreements with government], at present, do not provide a sound framework for the statutory authorities and government companies to report the results of their work or demonstrate how they achieved value for money for the funding provided,” Mr. Swarbrick said.  

For instance, the Turtle Farm set out to increase hatchlings at its operation in West Bay by 230 percent during the 2011 nesting season. A total of 2,514 turtle hatchlings were put “to water” during the season – an increase of 74 percent over the 2010 season.  

The farm sought to maintain production at 400 pounds live weight per day for four days a week, totaling 1,600 pounds of turtle meat. It achieved 1,297 pounds per week. In other areas, the farm exceeded its goals substantially, reducing the hatchling mortality rate by 43 percent for the year.  

Financially, the farm continued to struggle, with a reduction of 4 percent in visitor arrivals for the year.  

The operation also admitted it remains dependent on central government for subsidies. In the 2011/12 budget year, government paid $9.9 million to support the tourist attraction, with $6 million of that used to pay down debt incurred to expand the park section of the farm.  

“While the information provided by the Turtle Farm falls short of telling a complete and compelling results story, we believe the Turtle Farm is making progress toward being able to do this in the future,” Mr. Swarbrick said.  

“The timeliness and credibility of both financial and non-financial performance information was very important to improved relationships in recent years when discussing the significant funding requirements [of] the Turtle Farm.”  

Mr. Swarbrick said he was “disappointed” that other government entities had failed to provide detailed information about their actual work results. Most, he said, appeared to have focused simply on the work itself, rather than the outcomes of that labor.  

“We did not observe one situation where a statutory authority or government company established how it had achieved value for money in its operations,” he said.  

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Mr. Swarbrick

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A Turtle
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