An accountant with long experience in U.K. local council government has been selected as Cayman’s new auditor general, the Cayman Islands government announced on its Twitter feed Monday.
Sue Winspear, also known as Sue Higgins, joined the U.K.’s National Audit Office in January 2014 as executive leader. According to publicly available biographical information, Ms. Winspear had responsibility for the office’s work on local government, education and health.
She is expected to begin her contract in July. Acting Auditor General Garnet Harrison will continue to serve in the post until then. Ms. Winspear’s appointment is for a three-year term.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson confirmed that Ms. Winspear had been selected to the post, vacant since former auditor Alastair Swarbrick departed the islands last October. The governor’s office also confirmed the selection.
In a statement, the governor’s office noted: “With 30 years of financial and auditing experience, in her most recent role, Ms. Winspear had responsibility for approximately 200 directors and audit staff leading the financial audit, value for money studies, investigations and other assurance work in the government departments of health, education and local government. She also had responsibility for external relations and communications.”
Ms. Winspear has served as chairperson of the audit committee at the Greenshaw Learning Trust, which is the board that oversees Greenshaw High School academy. The appointment, in October 2013 listed her skills/experience as “finance and audit, human resources, recruitment, risk management, financial monitoring and organizational development.”
Ms. Winspear formerly served as director of resources with the London Borough of Sutton, where she also served as the acting chief executive.
She also served as director of resources at Richmond Upon Thames College and as governor at Glenthorne High School among other posts. She is a member of the chartered institute of public finance and accountancy, according to her curriculum vitae.
“Ms. Winspear has worked in a political environment and has regularly attended the U.K. Public Accounts Committee,” the governor’s statement indicated.
“I look forward to leading the Auditor General’s Office for the next period and taking it from strength to strength as we play our part in helping to improve public services and financial management,” Ms. Winspear said in the statement.
There was an open recruitment for the position. Advertisements were published in Cayman, the U.K., Australia, Canada and the Caribbean. A total of four candidates progressed to the final interview stage.
The interview panel included Governor Helen Kilpatrick, Ernst & Young Regional Managing Partner Dan Scott, Maples Chief Operating Officer Karie Bergstrom and Martin Sinclair, the retired assistant auditor general of the U.K. National Audit Office.
Governor Kilpatrick has recently backed the prompt release of independent government audits once those are completed, following recent public comments that the process surrounding the release and evaluation of reports from the auditor general’s office may be changed.
“It is an important principle of the audit process that there is not a long delay between production of a report and its general publication,” Governor Kilpatrick said in a recent statement.
The Cayman Compass has reported that private discussions among members of the government’s Public Accounts Committee and the auditor’s office have been held on the subject of audit reports and that PAC committee chairman Ezzard Miller publicly expressed some displeasure about the current process. Mr. Miller’s recent public comments in the committee did not specifically address the public release of the auditor general’s reports, but rather centered on what the civil service does with those reports after it receives them.
The issue of how, when and to whom government audits are released has been a thorny one among elected officials, who are currently involved in a wholesale review of parliamentary standing orders. Those orders, among many other things, set out how the Auditor General’s Office’s reports are to be made public.