Five years on, discredited gas card system still in use

A gas card management system that was blamed as early as 2010, at least in part, for hundreds of unrecorded transactions made by Cayman Islands civil service employees at the government fuel depot has never been replaced.  

The government Department of Vehicle and Equipment Services, which manages the North Sound Road fuel depot where government-owned vehicles get gas, is now advertising a request for proposals for a new fuel management software system.  

The old GASBOY card system was flagged in an Internal Audit Unit report from 2010 that was made public via then-Auditor General Dan Duguay’s office. Mr. Duguay opined at the time that hundreds of thousands of dollars in charges at the fuel depot may not have been used for “business purposes” by the civil service. 

The Internal Audit Unit eventually looked at two periods, between January 2008 and March 2009 and again in July 2009 to June 2010. It considered fuel use by a total of 15 government departments or statutory agencies. It found in most cases that the use of those employee and vehicle fuel cards was not being monitored properly by management, leaving the system open to “potential abuse and fraud.” 

For instance, the second report covering the 2009-2010 period found that close to half – 43 percent – of the 378 active employee gas cards used during the period belonged either to individuals who were no longer employed by the department responsible for the fuel card or had no “business need for the card.” 

“We were concerned that allowing driver cards of ex-employees and employees who do not have a business need for a card to remain active in the GASBOY system [the computer system used by the Department of Vehicle and Equipment Services to track fuel use] might result in unauthorised usage,” the internal audit report stated. “This risk increases in situations where fuel consumption is not adequately monitored.” 

Long-standing problem 

The lack of monitoring had been going on for quite some time, well before the period covered in its reviews, according to the internal audit report.  

Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick’s office concluded in 2012 that many of the same issues identified with the fuel depot system in the 2010 audit had reoccurred. For example, one instance occurred with an unnamed vehicle used by the Cayman Islands Airports Authority. Audit records revealed that a vehicle using card No. 2241 got 27.7 gallons of gas at 2:43 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2009. Five minutes later, at 2:48 p.m. the same day, the same amount of gas, 27.7 gallons was recorded again. Roughly the same thing occurred at different times on Dec. 21, 2009 and Jan. 7, 2010. Also, card No. 2241 was used at 9:27 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2010 for 26.5 gallons, and again at 9:32 a.m. the same day for the same amount. Three minutes later, at 9:35 a.m., the same card was used again for 9.3 gallons of gas. 

While not referring to the same card used by the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, the Department of Agriculture provided in the audit report a possible explanation for how this scenario could have happened: “Fuel cards have a fixed dollar value limit and in these cases the fuel dollar value limit is exceeded before the tank is filled. The only way to complete the filling is to immediately do another transaction with the same card.” 

Under the GASBOY system, separate cards are issued for vehicles and employees, so users have to swipe two cards before fueling. Complicating the issue for auditors is that very few transactions recorded had entered odometer readings. The vehicle mileage should be entered for each fueling, auditors said. 

Changes 

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson had said a new fuel distribution system for government would be introduced in mid-2012. 

The deputy governor said the new system – replacing government’s current GASBOY computer system – would “require additional discipline by government entities” to realize the benefits of the new system. 

Mr. Manderson wrote to government chief officers recently asking that management issues identified in the Internal Audit Unit report on the gas cards be dealt with in a “timely manner.”  

“There’s nothing [in the report] that should take us too long,” he said at the time.  

New system 

The request for proposal issued by government seeks a successful bidder to supply and install fuel station software “to control the dispensing of fuel at the gas pumps and to keep proper records.”  

Among other things, the system requested seeks between 1,000 and 1,500 tags apiece for driver and government vehicle identification, invoice billing records, the ability to reconcile fuel billing and purchase records, and the ability to set limits on how much fuel can be purchased with government gas cards.  

The government seeks to have the project completed by April 30. The deadline for the tenders is Feb. 20. 

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