Since changes were made to its fuel distribution system in the wake of an 2010 audit scandal, the Cayman Islands Department of Vehicle and Equipment Services fuel depot has been distributing about 15,000 to 16,000 fewer gallons of petrol annually to government vehicles.
Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts indicated Tuesday to the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee that while he might be speculating somewhat, he suspects that “some people” are no longer refueling their private vehicles at the North Sound Road fuel station.
“Theft,” East End MLA Arden McLean said. “Call it what it is. They were stealing it.”
“I’m trying to be a little careful, that’s all,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “You would think that some of it could be attributed to that, but the [fuel card] system has some other safeguards.”
In 2009, the government’s Internal Audit Unit looked at fuel use at the depot and found a number of what it termed “irregularities” in the usage of fuel — including some instances where two separate fuel purchases were made at the same time in varying amounts, and instances where the same government vehicle was fueled twice in one day.
Following up on the internal audit review, former Auditor General Dan Duguay estimated that hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel purchases for government entity vehicles between January 2008 and March 2009 were likely the result of “abuse and fraud.”
In the wake of the audits, government updated its Gasboy fuel card system. The new system no longer allows the “pilferage” that used to occur at the fuel depot, Mr. Tibbetts said.
Department of Vehicle and Equipment Services Director Richard Simms told the Finance Committee that his department supplies 973 “registered units” (government vehicles) with fuel — 793 of which are on Grand Cayman.
Mr. McLean estimated — based on government figures provided — that the fuel depot is “saving” about 20 gallons per year, per vehicle.
That 20 gallons per vehicle equates to about $80 to $100 in savings per government vehicle, per year on Grand Cayman, he said.
“We need to tighten our belts,” Mr. McLean said. “We need to tighten the management of these vehicles.”
Planning Ministry Chief Officer Alan Jones said Tuesday that he informed senior civil service managers during a recent department heads meeting that each government division needs to do a better job of managing its vehicle fleet.
Mr. Jones said it is not Mr. Simms’s responsibility to “police” how each and every government department uses its vehicles.
Officially, the governmentwide policy on take-home vehicles for staffers is that they are used only for government business.
In some circumstances, departments that have “on call” employees allow them to take home government cars, but generally “no personal use is allowed,” Mr. Jones said.