Records detail OfReg’s $387K in travel expenses

Regulator has spent another $132,895 through May this year

Breakdown of OfReg’s travel expenses. Click twice to enlarge.

The Utility Regulation and Competition Office, known as OfReg, has spent at least another $132,895 on travel-related expenses this year, according to OfReg records obtained by the Compass.

This year’s expenditures bring the regulator’s total travel costs to nearly $400,000 since the office was created in January 2017. The travel records, which show OfReg’s expenses through the end of May 2018, also show that the office spent $254,749 on travel-related expenses last year, which was more than the $234,233 in expenses stated in OfReg’s 2017 annual report.

The expenses have been used to carry OfReg officials far and wide, to places such as Brussels, Dubai, Singapore, Copenhagen, London and Barcelona.

Highlights in the travel records include $8,066 spent to send OfReg CEO J. Paul Morgan to Brussels from Oct. 6-15 for “Communications Policy and Regulation Week 2017;” $10,269 spent on “EU Competition Law Summer School” in London from Aug. 6-11; and $23,121 spent to send telecommunications officials to Copenhagen, Denmark from March 8-17, 2017 for the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers 58 Conference.”

The Compass has not interviewed OfReg officials about their travel expenses. Mr. Morgan has told this reporter that it is his office’s policy to only respond to written questions, and it is this newspaper’s policy to generally avoid written interviews. OfReg Deputy CEO Alee Fa’amoe did, however, appear on Cayman Crosstalk last week with host Woody DaCosta, where he was questioned about his department’s expenses.

“About 44 percent of the travel expenditure for last year was directly related to training and education of staff, and we make no apologies for that,” Mr. Fa’amoe told Mr. DaCosta. “These aren’t courses you [can] just drive to UCCI to do … These are very technical courses on the how network infrastructure works … this isn’t gallivanting across the world.”

The OfReg deputy chief added that some of his staff were sent to Texas for “fuels and emergency services” training, while others were sent to accredited universities, such as the University of Florida – Gainesville.

The rest of the expenses went to sending OfReg officials to regulatory meetings, he said.

“Part of our responsibilities is representing the [country] at international forums like the [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers] meetings where the international domains are represented,” Mr. Fa’amoe said.

OfReg’s 2017 annual report does not project how much the office expects to spend on travel in 2018, but $132,895 in expenses through May this year puts the office on pace to surpass last year’s $254,749 – more than double what OfReg budgeted for travel in 2017. OfReg ran a nearly $1.5 million operating deficit last year, and asked government for a $1 million cash injection to address its budget shortfall in May. The regulator is also pushing for fee increases across the sectors it regulates.

1 COMMENT

  1. This list is mind boggling, 39 trips in 12 months! – was anyone left in the office to answer the telephone?. Mr Fa’amoe states that almost half the trips were for training and education of staff “and we make no apologies for that”. Can he then explain why staff with the necessary qualifications and experience were not employed in the first place given that AVERAGE salaries of $100,000 were paid to staff.

    • Ludicrous amounts of spending and yes, Fa’amoe himself is guilty of ‘galivanting’ around the world at CIGOV expense. If all these staff were missing the necessary skillsets to cover their post, why the heck were they hired in the first place? Sounds like govt of the day got a proper milking on this new disaster.

  2. According to the record travel details , there’s a few things missing like , who went on these many trips , and how long they /he was gone on the trips , and who attended the training /seminar, to really say that someone in OFReg is just using Taxpayers money to just travel the world . Then the details seems like all someone in OFReg needs is an invite to anything and they are gone on a trip .
    The part that really gets me , why are OFReg charging the sister Island for inspections . What was it that they inspected on the sister Island ? The bottom line is that I have to think that someone don’t have the experience , and knowledge , and qualifications to do the job and is getting it on the job .
    I have said it before that OFReg needs to be desolved , because it is going to be a bigger drain to the government than the Turtle Farm and CAL put together .

  3. I find this repulsive. Perhaps this list is even grander than reported. I say some of the trips and expenditures have gone unreported. Cayman wake up. You’ve been had. They need training alright. Let these OfREG folks take it online. They will have to settle for online courses. Mr. Fa’amoe stated “this isn’t gallivanting across the world”. What do you call travel to every corner of the globe. Cayman going forward, you better wake up. This isn’t the only agency here who makes it their living to take advantage of the folks and their hard earned dollars. Forensic auditors need to be installed in every agency. Do not stand for this for one more day. Stop these people, and reorganize this agency.