PAC takes issue with Duguay’s reports

| 26/02/2010

(CNS): The auditor general was in the firing line again yesterday when the chair of the Public Accounts Committee placed four outstanding committee reports on the Legislative Assembly table regarding their opinions on the Special Reports undertaken by Dan Duguay’s office. Although the PAC agreed with Duguay on most of his findings, its report on the AG’s audit of the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal said Duguay’s comments were unsubstantiated and accused him of causing potential damage to individuals and businesses. Duguay, however, told CNS he stood by his comments and as far as that project was concerned government could have saved several million dollars and the public did not get good value for money.

It was a busy morning for reports being placed before the LA, with six annual reports from the Water Authority being tabled going as far back as 2003. Four outstanding PAC reports were also placed before parliament assessing AG reports that had been completed as far back as 2006.

In the case of the AG’s report on the purchase of the RCIPS helicopter, the PAC fully endorsed Duguay’s findings that there had been considerable miscommunication and misunderstanding between government and police, and the government could have received better value for money to sell the existing machine if it could not be successfully re-fitted. Duguay also observed in the report that whatever happened, the government should do something with the helicopter, which remained in the United Sates — as it still does today despite assurances from the police on numerous occasions that its arrival was imminent.

When it came to the report on the government’s settlement over Hurricane Ivan claims with Cayman General, the PAC also agreed with the auditor general when he found that, while the deal may not have been the best value for money given the circumstances in the wake of Ivan, it was reasonable at the time.

However, PAC avoided commenting on the various findings by the AG on the financing arrangements for Boatswain’s Beach. Although the report agreed that, in the end, the government had received a good deal with the financing arrangements they chose, the committee ignored Duguay’s key findings regarding the money paid to companies before a deal was made, which included as much as $1.6 million of public funds wasted.

In regard to the Royal Watler report, however, PAC were quite specific with their condemnation of the AG and said his claim that there was overcharging to the tune of $.4.2 million was not substantiated and was mitigated by witness evidence that the project was expanded in scope.

“The committee is of the position that such unsubstantiated comments by the Auditor General’s office … are concerning to say the least,” Ezzard Miller, the chair of PAC, read to the LA as he submitted the four reports to the House. “Such unsubstantiated comments may cause damage to the reputation of individuals or business, and that in drafting of such reports the utmost due care and attention must be given.”

Duguay was not present in the LA when the reports were tabled and CNS later discovered that he had not been informed that the PAC chair had intended to present them, nor, he said, was he given any advance notice of the content of the PAC reports. But the AG said he stood by his findings.

“I have just managed to take a look at the PAC comments as I did not have an opportunity to review these beforehand. However I don’t agree with the PAC conclusion regarding the Royal Watler Report,” he said. “I believe my office proved that government could have saved that $4 million as the later changes were not relevant to the findings and did not change the fact that government could have saved money.”

Duguay also noted that the PAC had only addressed part of the conclusions in his reports, in particular with regards the financing of Boatswain’s Beach. “The PAC comments only address the partof the conclusion that favours government and the reader could assume the AG’s office had found that was a good deal, which was far from what our report concluded. The government spent at least $1.6 million unnecessarily and I can’t say that was a good deal,” Duguay added.

In submitting the reports, Miller also included all of the minutes of the various meetings, included those held in camera. In one of the meetings PAC discussed the Standing Orders, which rule when audit reports are made public, and it was revealed that former talk show host and advocate of transparency, Ellio Solomon, had requested that the AG’s reports not be made public until the PAC had made its comments on those audits, potentially holding them up for three months after publication.

The UDP backbencher said he wanted to discuss the current Standing Orders with the government. Opposition PAC member, Moses Kirkconnell, pointed out that the AG was a watchdog for the people’s money and government had come a long way in terms of transparency and Freedom of Information. The committee asked Solomon to review the situation and agreed that the members would wait for government to decide how it would review the Standing Orders that govern how the AG’s reports are handled by the LA.

Category: Headline News

Comments (22)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Duquay is correct about the new police helicopter, which is a modified Eurocopter model 135 light twin.

    My estimate is that it will cost Cayman citizens well over $1000.00 per hour to run this copter.

    Once again, has anyone done a cost/benefit analysis on this new adventure by the RCIP? What can this costly new service actually do to reduce crime on the Cayman Islands?

    My answer is nothing.

    What the RCIP needs to do, and needs to do urgently, is to start patrolling Cayman crime areas on foot, 2 by 2. They should be lightly armed, and provided with portable radios with which they can call in reinforcements.

    If the government really wants to reduce expenditure while solving the crime issue, the first thing it needs to do is to sell the copter, dump the copter staff, give up its airport locations, and apply the funds where they are really needed.

     

     

     

     

  2. Anonymous says:

     

    Reports are the people’s property!

    So some UDP members of the PAC want to keep the AG’s reports secret. This will reverse the opening up of Government.

    Well not secret, just keep it away from the public until the controlling government of the day dominated PAC makes up its mind to have a meeting, to make a response. Still the stinking secret keeping mentality.

    No – we must not allow the UDP government to once again keep the AG’s reports secret, waiting for them to release the reports years later.

    Release the AG’s reports and all other reports as soon as they are completed; we paid for the reports, now give us the reports.

    Reports are not government property.

    Reports are the people’s property!

    Thank you for posting my comment.

    Emma

  3. Ezzard Miller says:

    It is unfortunate that the views of the PAC are written in this article as if they are my personal views. The report is prepared and approved by the Public Accounts Committee and not me I am only the chairperson, and therefore given the task of reporting to the Legislative Assembly.

    However I can confirm that I agree with the report.

    I should aslo point out that this is not the end of the process the Government is now expected to respond to both the AG findings and the PAC report within 90 days as per standing orders and then all members of the LA get the opportunity to debate the report.

    Ezzard Miller 

    • Anonymous says:

      Ezzard,

      Since the PAC is controlled by the Govt. backbench there is no doubt that (a) this had something to do with its findings, and (b) that the Govt. will approve of the report. It is obviously politically biassed and designed to support McKeeva’s urge for the AG to leave and every right-thinking Caymanian will understand that. Why allow yourself to be used in this way by McKeeva?  

       

      • Anonymous says:

        Ezzard merely reported what he found in the files….PAC knew this result from over 2 years ago but would not report it. No one is using Ezzard. Shame on the Bodden led past PAC committee.

        • Anonymous says:

          Knew what result exactly? This is just a statement of opinion by the current members of the PAC.  There is nothing objective about it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Duguay hold your head high let the truth be told. Remember the Devil is a lier and theres a lot of those.Let us the people of these islands know whats going on because i for one would like to have a life vest because we are sinking fast and the truth must be told.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The article clearly shows the political bias of the PAC. They agree with his criticisms of PPM projects but not those of the UDP. The completely side-step the real criticisms about Boatswain’s Beach. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is funny. Lookya, the PAC agrees with AG reports that did not have MacKeeva involvement but lashes out on the ones that did.

    Hilarious actually.

    Meanwhile, they are repeating Mac’s EXACT criticisms of the reports.

    What are the odds, eh?

    Gives new meanings to the term “independent” as applied to the PAC and politicians.

    Laughing out loud.

    • Anonymous says:

      Talk about independent politicians…when Ossie was head of PAC they never release ONE report because the AG’s reports seem to be damaging to UDP. In fact I quote the Net News as follows:

      “Mr Bodden said the hearings, long delayed for scheduling reasons, were intended to “substantiate” Mr Duguay’s original findings and “put them out there for the public to chew and digest”. The Auditor-General answers to the Public Accounts Committee, which is empowered to conduct its own enquiry into the conclusions of any audit. “It’s not necessarily to lay blame.” —Cayman Net News April 29 2008

      … substantiate ?!!….for the public to chew and digest but not to lay blame?!…Very professional and non-partisan!

      People of Cayman, do not be misled and used. The PAC should always be chaired by the OPPOSITION so that its reports do not seem to be biased. PPM continued to chair PAC for their full 4 years. They cannot really talk about independence of the PAC now when the shoe is on the other foot… lead by example folks.

  7. Just Sayin says:

    You know you could save yourself a lot of time and effort by just having a permanent headline on the news page which reads "Ezzard Miller disagrees with Expatriate Worker". No need for a story.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Dan the man was led astray by Port Management because port management was in a spitting contest with Burns Conolly.  This shows why the current system that guides the reports of the Auditor General is wrong.  The Auditor General shouldn’t have to just take Port Mangement’s word on this and he should speak to others involved in the project – like the board of directors – before he puts out a report.  In this case, his report was flawed and it damaged the reputations of many people/companies.

  9. Anonymous says:

    dirty tricks campaign …… stand tall dan!… the people are behind you

  10. Anonymous says:

    Finally, the other shoe has dropped on the press-happy AG!

    The Auditor General of course would not agree with their findings but their findings stand as final after hearing all the facts. It is not a “he says-He says” situation. The PAC reviews the AG’s report, ask for Government input and calls witnesses. Their report is the final story.

    For years Mr. Garvin and others have been saying that the Royal Watler report was rubbish. He must feel vindicated this morning.

    • au revoir says:

      So noble of you to put your faith in the PAC; they are so "independent" after all.  The AG has no interest in throwing about unsubstantiated accusations.  On the other hand, the PAC have far greater interest in covering up certain "overcharges" that friends of friends of friends have benefited from. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Ezzard covering up Government wrongs??…I do not think so!

        Every since the AG was allowed to showboat and release his reports without the PAC report following immediately you stand to have a problem like this.

        I will be surprised if legal action does not follow this now….with us poor Caymanians paying again!

      • Anonymous says:

        The PAC, including the "independent" chairman, is a UDP entity! So no surprises here.

    • Anonymous says:

      The AG is independent and he looks atfacts and forms opinions on government spending. The PAC is a committee of the Legislative Assembly. The members are MLAs. Politicians. They review the AG’s reports and then make their own conclusions, which may or may not be in agreement. In my opinion, the PAC report is bound to be more biased than the AG report, especially when the Government has already voiced (mostly politically motivated) opposition to the report.

      The PAC report isn’t the final story, and it definitely isn’t completely independent and meant to be the final, unquestionable truth. It is simply another set of opinions and conclusion based on the facts, opinions and conclusion of the AG’s report.

      Those who disagreed with the report aren’t vindicated, Government has just agreed with them formally.

      • Anonymous says:

        The AG may be independent but he can only report on what information the departments GIVE him. Or he can say he did not get any information after asking like he did in Tempura. However the AG relies on what is given to him. Unfortunately, it appears that in Royal Watler he did not get ALL of the information…whose fault likely the PA.

        The AG will and has said publicly that “based on the information RECEIVED, it is his OPINION such and such…”

        He is at the mercy of what he gets. Do not be fooled about this.

        It is the PAC that is the FINAL say if you read the Legislative Standing orders. While he remains ‘legislatively’ independent the AG in essence works for that body, producing reports for them to evaluate. He is a key and important part of the system of checks and balances but only as good as the info he recieves unfortunately.

        http://www.legislativeassembly.ky/portal/page?_pageid=1588,2236564&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you for your reply and I do agree with you, especially that the AG may not have all the facts and this is quite unfortunate. However, I still believe that while the PAC may have the "final say" on the matter that doesn’t mean what they say is the absolute truth and fact. If the PAC disagrees with the AG’s report (or certain conclusions) that does not nullify those opinions, and that is the point I was hoping to get across to the original poster.

    • Anonymous9 says:

      Sorry, are we reading the same article above???  You might read it again…