The persistent phenomenon to which we refer is GASBOY, the Cayman Islands government’s management system for its North Sound fuel depot.
For the better part of the past decade, GASBOY has been the subject of much abuse: both practically, by civil servants who treated the government fueling station as their personal supply of gasoline, and rhetorically, by government auditors who flagged about $500,000 worth of fuel purchases, just in one year, as being potentially suspicious.
For the record, we editorialized on this subject in mid-February, saying, “The GASBOY scandal represents more than just a few hundred thousand gallons of gasoline gone missing. It’s an obvious symptom of a far more serious malady entrenched in Cayman’s government (and our society, generally): Our high tolerance for low-level corruption.”
To put the GASBOY problem in perspective, in spring 2010 then-Auditor General Dan Duguay published a report by the government’s Internal Audit Unit, along with a related review by his office, that quantified the amount of suspicious fuel purchases as totaling a full one-third of all fuel purchases made at the North Sound depot between January 2008 and March 2009. While Police Commissioner David Baines (whose tenure began in June 2009, after the audit period) and other Cayman officials questioned the magnitude of those dollar amounts, no one disputed the obvious shortcomings of the GASBOY monitoring system.
In other words, nobody can say with certainty (or a straight face) how much, or how little, government fuel was “mis-dispensed” for personal use — and that is precisely the problem with GASBOY.
Despite the original damning reports and the follow-up audit by Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick in 2012, government has continued to use the antiquated and flawed version of GASBOY.
Now, Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts has announced that the government’s problems-plagued GASBOY system is being replaced — with an upgraded GASBOY system. Acknowledging that the current system is “very much outdated,” he said the new GASBOY will have auditing and security features to help prevent misuse and theft, such as time restrictions, maximum volumes for gas cards and built-in tracking so managers can monitor employees’ fuel use. Mr. Tibbetts also said the new GASBOY has physical security features to confirm that only government vehicles are being refueled, and can track mileage automatically to make sure the fuel is being used in the government vehicle.
Although we at the Compass are believers in “second chances,” when it comes to GASBOY, our immediate reaction more closely aligns with the view expressed by East End Arden McLean in the Finance Committee last week: “It is a system that is doomed for failure and it has always been doomed for failure.”
We shall see — probably when the next round of government fuel depot audits have concluded.