Government considers outsourcing survey work

The partial outsourcing of work done by the government Lands and Survey Department is considered a “viable” option by managers participating in the Project Future civil service reform program.

According to a report issued by government earlier this year, between five and seven of the 16 jobs in the survey section of the department could be made redundant, and their work outsourced to the private sector, without significant disruption to staff or delaying services.

The suggestion to entirely outsource government land surveying services, as put forward by the initial Ernst & Young consultants review in 2014, was discounted as being too disruptive to staff and operations.

The report also suggested alternate options of maintaining the status quo in government surveying operations or improving the survey section’s business processes to increase savings.

No final decisions have been made. All recommendations are in the strategic planning stage of Project Future’s review, and it would be up to the deputy governor to decide on staffing options.

The report noted that current operations at the surveying section are somewhat inefficient, partially due to circumstances beyond the department’s control.

“One of the main problems is the inability of the survey section to give concrete or realistic estimated completion dates to the stakeholders,” the report states. “Two jobs with similar work requests can result in inaccurate estimation of completion dates. The actual complexity of certain types of surveys is not fully realized until the field work has begun, despite having done a thorough in-house investigation.”

Poor original records from old land adjudication decisions and destroyed or missing land boundary markers on site can also contribute to delayed work or requirements to re-survey the property.

According to the report, two partial outsourcing options could be considered: about half of the work done by the survey section would be outsourced, or 85 percent of the work would be outsourced.

With regard to the 50 percent outsourcing option, the government noted it “could deliver time and savings to both Lands & Survey and the Cayman Islands government with less potential disruption to staff.”

Outsourcing up to 85 percent would ensure that “urgent projects can be dealt with in a timely manner, without resulting delays for standard procurement of services.”

Government managers considered it unlikely that the private sector would be able to take on outsourced government employees as “the market for licensed land surveyors may be saturated.”

The most any of the outsourcing plans would be expected to save the government is estimated at $288,000 annually. Anywhere between five and seven posts in the survey section of the department could be made redundant, depending on the option chosen.