FOI reveals AG staff’s extra jobs
A member of the Cayman Islands Attorney General’s Chambers is undertaking separate employment elsewhere as an attorney, according to records released by government under a Freedom of Information request.
The information provided for the request, filed earlier this year by a private citizen, indicated that four people in the government’s Legal Department had been granted permission to “engage in the following activities.”
Those included one person who was seeking to start a security company, another looking to “set up a legal database,” a third who wanted to open an auto repair shop, and a fourth who sought to “practice law externally.”
The last outside job on that list did not define “externally” and whether the lawyer was working for another government agency or outside of government. It also did not state whether the work was being carried out in the Cayman Islands or in another jurisdiction.
Also undefined in the information provided via the Cayman Island Freedom of Information Law was whether the “legal database” was public or private, or how that information was to be used.
Attorney General Samuel Bulgin did not respond Wednesday to emails seeking comment on specific questions regarding the employment situation.
The open records request sought information from every Cayman Islands government department that allows its workers to pursue gainful employment outside of their “day jobs” with the public sector.
The practice is nothing new. Government has, for decades, allowed its employees to work outside of their regular jobs – a practice known as moonlighting.
It was not until 2012 that the civil service created rules for the practice of moonlighting.
“Civil servants who wish to engage in private gainful activity are required by the Public Service Management Law to first obtain their chief officer’s approval,” records of a chief officer’s meeting from February 2012 indicated. “It was agreed that consistent practice across the service in this area was important.”
Civil servants have been asked to provide information on gainful employment activities for approval by chief officers. They are also typically asked to provide information on any conflicts of interest that may affect the day-to-day operations of any departments, as is set out in the civil service code of conduct.
However, there is no ban on civil servants engaging in “private gainful activities,” though the issue has long been a contentious one.
As early as 2005, the Cayman Islands Contractors Association alleged some civil servants were “moonlighting” (working a second after-hours job), and that others were “day-lighting” (working on their own business while they were supposed to be at their government job). The main concern of the contractors association at the time was civil servants were operating construction companies during the day time in the wake of Hurricane Ivan.
“Moonlighting is a questionable activity, as it may leave the employee too tired and distracted to perform his primary job,” the 2005 contractors association statement read. “Day-lighting is nothing short of theft from government, and, by extension, from taxpayers.”
In response to open records requests from the Caymanian Compass last year, the government’s ministries and portfolios provided information on 151 instances where civil servants reported having “private gainful employment” and/or business interests apart from government.
In a handful of cases, those civil servants had business relationships with government through their private interests.