Sad day for transparency

| 16/04/2010

Although we should not be surprised by the removal of Dan Duguay from his post, the news should still be of concern to the people of the Cayman Islands. Despite what will be said by government, the message sent to the community by this decision is simple: If you challenge authority you will be removed.

Love him or hate him, Duguay has integrity and is good at what he does, but he is soon to be unemployed, not because, as some have tried to say, he made mistakes but because they didn’t like what he turned up and they certainly didn’t like him talking about it so much.
Despite the comments of those who have been on the receiving end of the light he has shone on the mismanagement of public finances, Duguay had no hidden agendas and no axes to grind. The findings in his reports were based on what he found in government books.
And because he would not be bullied into silence or directed away from what he perceived to be areas of controversy he has lost his job. Duguay’s removal marks a sad backward step for openness and transparency in government and for the governor’s catch phrase of ‘good governance’.
From the helicopter fiasco to the discredited Operation Tempura, not to mention the finance arrangements at Boatswain’s Beach, the Affordable Housing project, the Matrix affair, and who could forget ‘GASBOYgate’, Dan was not afraid to boldly go where no auditor general had gone before, and more importantly he talked about it.
There is no doubt that the auditor general’s preference for openness and transparency is behind his marching orders. Of course the officials of government will be able to hide behind the issues of competitive contracting, his six years service, a better candidate and other sensible sounding reasons, but with a few notable exceptions, officialdom has not fooled the Caymanian public, who know full well why Duguay will be packing his bags.
Duguay admits that since taking up the position every governor has questioned why he has engaged with the press and been so vocal about his work, and the AG has explained to each of them that in order for the public finances to be better managed the public must be aware of the process and what good value for money for them really means. As Duguay pointed out, the media is the outlet by which the wider public gets to understand what government spends and why.
Without Duguay’s openness and drive for accountability who would have ever realised that the government had not actually done a full set of accounts for five years? How would we know that Bridger was paid over half a million dollars of hard earned tax payers money? Or that Joey Ebanks ran up a $6,000 bar tab at the Turtle Farm – things, that lets face it, we deserve to know.
In his reports Duguay has highlighted the dangers of the mismanagement of public finances and asked the public to challenge their political representatives about how they look after the public purse — a perfectly legitimate position for an auditor general to take.
Yet by highlighting some of the many problems that we are all now aware of due to his work, the government has rewarded him with the sack.
 So what of the mystery man who will replace Dan? Given that he has only been given a three-year contract and coming in the wake of someone who has clearly lost his job for being a little too thorough for the liking of the powers that be, will our next AG be quite so willing to turn on those lights or will the country’s next scrutiniser of the public purse hide behind the dusty files of ‘accountingdom’?
While we in the press certainly hope the former is the case, we are under no illusions about what is likely to happen next.

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (38)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Every man is responsible for his own destiny. He chose to side with the FCO servant, Governor Jack and not stick with his findings. So the dan man dug his own hole.

    Peace :o)

    CNS: You’re forgetting his investigations into SPIT. Here’s an alternative view from another thread.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Give me a break – who in the world do you all think this man is?   No one is indispensible and if you are not a caymanian, then you should expect to get rolled over. Yes, that can happen in government, too.   After all he has been here at least 6 plus years.   

    As always, change is good let’s wait and see what the new AG does…… our new governor is off to a good start.

  3. Ghost in the machine says:

     Maybe you are right Bruce and others about CNS and Mr Dugay yes it was probably his time but it is the tyrannical manner in which he was handled that speaks volumes about the persons involved in this torrid situation. It is the bigger picture that some of you do not seem to understand until it comes in your front door to deal you the same hand that they dealt to him . I honestly hope you handle it when the time comes in the same dignified manner he did. On a seperate issue the problem with this situation once again is the serious double standards that exist when it comes certain persons who are Lazy inept vindictive nuisances that are employed in Government constipating and systematically obstructing government year in and year out. (Job 4 Lifers) they have been there so long they have the Status of a Street or Prison gang but because they are somebody’s family pet or political saboteur or mole remain in the position and are even promoted and when they are forced to retire are brought back with an enhanced salary package and even more influence than when they left. What about them will their jobs be advertised and a political panel of the righteous be convened to decide their fate. Will the Governor find a more skilled replacement and face the wrath of the "Gang" The whole point is not about one Man Cayman it is about who and what he represents and the trust and confidence put in his office to keep the public informed and engage in their own government. The choice is yours Cayman shall we have a democracy where it is nothing more than mob rule where 51% of the people may take away the rights of the other 49%. Secrecy in government quickly becomes a form of Tyranny. Thank you Mr Dugay for all you have done for the Cayman islands. Ms Ledger its good thing you dont think like some of the political zombies round ya who need to move to North Korea for a more structured society.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone think that Dan Duguay will regret losing a $120,000 p.a. job when he can make twice that in the private sector? Probably already has something lined up, through Henderson’s financial adviser. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wendy, despite your twist on this, Dan brought this on himself. He could not leave well enough alone and let his reports speak for themselves, he wanted the glory and the praise and reveled in the his ability and power to ruin reputations even if he was proven wrong. In my opinion, yes he was a good auditor, but in trying to be a politician, he absolutely sucked and that’s why he is gone.

    Good Riddance!!! one more year and he would have been seeking residency anyway…Congrats, Governor Taylor on taking a tough stance and rolling him over.

    No man is an island Jack (or Dan). there are many people out there just as qualified and some even more! thanks for your time. Go screw some other island over!

     

    • Bruce says:

      As Client Eastwood would say "he became a legend in his own mind". He got on the radio and called his reports gospel when they had not even been accepted by the Public Accounts Committe. What kind of mismangement is that?

       

  6. Anonymous says:

    People change is always good and  new beginnings is refreshing and provides an opportunity to do things differently.   Remember, we recently had a change in govt., also a new governor and now a new AG!    We paid Dan Duguay well for his services and now it is time for him to move on.   With the addition of the CI Govt. on his CV I am sure his earnings will be greater, so he got a good deal.

     

     

  7. Anonymous says:

    Dear Mr. 14:54 Anonymous,

    If you had taken the time to listen to Mr. Duguay you would see that he is not against a berthing facility for the Cayman Islands…in fact if he were asked he would probably agree that it is essential for growth in the Cayman Islands.  What Mr. Duguay has said is that the process to achieve this outcome must be an open and legal process……the Government of day must tender the project and get the best value for money for the people of the Cayman Islands.  If a legitimate process takes place, then I’m sure the Auditor General would certainly applaud the efforts of Government. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    The position of Auditor General isto be the Government watchdog.  Like many expats we can only applaud his devotion to a country where expats are not provided any rights, liberties or any freedoms to discuss the political situation.

     

    It amazes me that there are only 11 comments in this section but 100s in the letter regarding the Catholic Church and priests.

     

    It is time to realize that politics, business and religion do not mix and get on with what is happening to this country.Obiviously a strong religious background has provided no signifcant answers on how a democratic country should  be run.  Democracy in Cayman is in a sorry state of affairsin Cayman.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am sure Mr Duguay will be happy to go back to the frozen north and a rationality he has not seen for 6 years.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The Duguayworship on this CNS site (not only this article) has been quite extraordinary. Much of it is clearly related to hatred of and suspicion of Mackeeva Bush. The members of the interview panel have been thoroughly castigated – by people who were, of course, not present at the interview. The Governor, so good up to now, is said by some to have blotted his copy book. Pastor Winston Rose MBE has had his name mentioned in connection with the words "cleric" and "Iran". Never mind that he is a man of immense integrity who was for many years on the Public Service Commission and was also for many years Head of Personnel at Cable and Wireless when its presence here was very large indeed and has served on numerous interview panels because – simply – he knows his stuff.

    And now here is Wendy striding to the barricades. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But some of us out here remember the efforts of past Auditor Generals, – Esdaile and Treen for example. They did their reports and exposed the waste in government and caught absolute hell from the politicians (including in Esdaile’s case a young Mackeeva Bush). But I repeat, they did their investigations and reports. Mr Duguay has, whether he intended to or not, created by his constant personal appearances and media blitzing, the impression that before him there was no transparency, value for money comments, calls for accountability etc. The "new media" – TV and blogging for example – were not available in the days prior to Mr Duguay’s tenure but his predecessors DID raise these issues. His weakness in the eyes of those of us who do not worship him is that he made all the issues he dealt with as much about Dan Duguay and his talents as he did about good governance in Cayman. The notion that he alone holds the key to accountability checks on Government and that no one better to be both Auditor General and Chief Officer of the Audit Department exists is absurd.

    I hope CNS prints this alternative viewpoint. If it does I expect 50 thumbs down or more by Sunday morning.

    CNS: Sorry I took a day off. The thumbs up and down will be delayed as a result.

    • Canary in a Coal Mine says:

      Took a day off?????  What is this a day at the beach???  What if there had been a revolution on the day you took off??  That means we wouldn’t hear about it until the next day!

      I’m going to check just to make sure…..

      Nope

      Still the same.

      You were lucky CNS

  11. A REALIST says:

    You people.

    The Public Service Management Law calls for contracts held by non-Caymanians to be advertised before renewal? After his first three years was it advertised? NO.

    Did he take the job knowing that his contract did not have to be renewed at will. YES.

    Did he, after getting the job, then seek to change the terms of the position he accepted by speaking against the three year contracts he gladly accepted  when he first came? YES

    Stop making him into some saint. I wish every position held by an expat was advertised when those contracts expired rather than quietly renewed (listening Mark Scotland?). Who is he to believe that the job should be his just because he "wanted" it?

    And his predecessor was a far better AG. Mr. Esdaile just wasn’t on every radio station tooting his own horn with his "holier than thou attitude" and he served for 11 years. He let the reports speak for themselves.

    And many of his reports were rushed and not properly researched. His report on Royal Watler WAS FLAWED. His report on the fuel facility was also flawed. It is amazing that both the (now retired) head of the fuel facility and the current police commissioner have come out against it and the public, have simply ignored their explanations, choosing to eat up the AGs sensationalism of the $500,000 figure. Why didn’t he interview them before putting out a report that could possibly damage reputations and lives? Because he is arrogant and believes that people here are inherently corrupt and he will get nothing meaningful.

    He was a reasonably good AG. Not a great one. Stop being blinded by the fact that he made himself available to the media. His reports were frequently one-sided and flawed. FACT.

    • Dan Duguay says:

      Actually, the statement that the Public Service and Management Law (PSML) calls for a job to be advertised before renewal is not true. The re-appointmentof a Chief Officer (and the AG is considered a Chief Officer under the PSML) is covered under the Personnel Regulations 2006 which are enacted under the PSML. Section 15, titled reaapointment of chief officers at the end of a fixed-term employment agreement, first requires the appointing officer (the Governor in this case) to consider performance, other candidates in the civil service or on the Islands and other factors. After this process, the appointing officer may EITHER re-appoint the chief officer or declare the position vacant and initiate the appointment of a new chief officer. 

      There is no requirement for advertisements and the appointing officer may re-appoint if they so chose. They can also declare the position open and then start a competition which happened in this case. So the Governor handled the situation in accordance with the Law but it is not true to say that chief officers fixed terms contracts nust be advertised.

       

      Also, I never asked for a longer contract for myself but I suggested that a new AG get a longer contract. For example the Complaints Commissioner has a 5 year contract. My point of view is that the NEW AG should have a similar length contract.

       

      Finally, I never considered the position "Mine" for life. I was always honoured to be granted the post and tried to do the job to the best of my abilities. I have enjoyed my time here and wish the new AG, and all the people of the Cayman Islands, the very best.

  12. Frequent Flyer says:

    Well done article!

    So when we hear nothing from the new AG, we can assume that everything with the government accounts is running like clockwork?

     

  13. anonymous says:

    Wendy, you of all persons surprise me with this essay. I am sure the AG gave you a lot of hits on this website but surely only the blind can see that in any ‘good’ he may have done for "transparency" he equally was a loose cannon with his wildly opinionated reports that have come under scrutiny for the lack of collaborated evidence. Good governance MUST have accountability. That is from the Governor on down. The AG cannot be left to ruin people and company livelihoods without giving them the opportunity to "have their day in court". That is what was unfortunately made to happen during his tenure here.That is what the press should be standing up for at this point. And given the AG’s passion for notoriety and to be in the press, left a lot of good people in the ruble of his passing. The AG was never meant to be left without challenge in the Westminster parliamentary system. The trio of the AG, the PAC and the Government are to act in concert so that the public can actually have a holistic understanding of the truth. So even if the AG was good for the Press core and even if he highlighted "mismanagement’ of public funds, it was all lost in his arrogance and with the many reports that were eventually found to be unsubstantiated. I believe that the Governor recognized that to leave him in this position with those characteristics would be unwise, particularly with other highly qualified persons wanting the job. The AG’s job is critical and it should be executed as thoroughly and fully as possible. I fully support the Office looking forabuse of public funds. I believe wholehearted that ‘showboating’ should not be a part of that process and diligent and thoroughness is essential. XXXX

  14. Anonymous says:

    Here a run-down from the other side because there is more to this story:

    The Berthing facility deal has been signed by the Premier Mckeeva Bush. So I would suggest you get over your animosity. The facility is a good deal for the economic development of the Cayman Islands.

    I recall this Auditor General along with the Governor Jack wanted to stall such a development by introducing some environmental assessment that would, no doubt have took more than a year to start.

    Bear in mind the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has given the Cayman Islands deadlines to balance our budget. The berthing facility would be revenue into the country, and here was the AG suggesting that Government stall the important project.

    So…I may get thumbs down of this – 

    But Dan wasn’t all a darlingto me.  Some of you on this site and overseas apparently are anti-Caymanian and would want to see Cayman fail. Just let me say this CAYMAN WILL NOT FAIL! 

    CAYMAN WILL EVER BE PROSPEROUS, AND ANYONE WHO ATTEMPTS IN ANY WAY TO BRING OUR ECONOMY DOWN, SHOULD FALL INTO THE SAME HOLE THEY DUG.

    Peace

    • CayMen says:

      yes Mr rundown you sound like you are in space certainly not living here you are in need of a serious reality check up by a Doctor suffering from delusions of the wealth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Man I am Caymanian and all I can say to you is that you have been taking too much of that party political KoolAid to have any concept of reality.

      Transparency in governance and economic prosperity for Caymanians as a people are not mutually exclusive. Perhaps what you are complaining about is that when there is transparency, it becomes apparent that some politicians and their cronies have their hands, feet and snouts in the cookie jar.  

    • Anonymous says:

       Wanting to protect the place we all live from money-grubbers and their poorly thought out plans DOES NOT EQUAL wanting to bring down Cayman’s economy!

      Not only is it a good idea to see what effect construction in the harbor might have on the harbor, beaches and shoreline – as I understand it, it is the law.

      So you are for risking real damage to Grand Cayman and for  breaking the law – all for a chance at a quick buck!  The only hole here is the one in your coconut head!

       

    • Joe Average says:

      You were right about one thing 14:54…..lots of thumbs down!

      What you are wrong about is that anyone is trying to "bring Cayman down."  On the contrary, people are very concerned (and you should be too) that accountability within government is vaporizing fast and/or non-existent.  Where are the accounts?  For say….the past five years??  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist.  You’re not a rocket scientist are you? To say… "this is a very bad situation".  Let me explain why just in case you aren’t a rocket scientist.  How can you know if things are being run properly… if no one tells you where the money went and how much?   How can you budget for things…..if you don’t know how much money you have?  How does the public know any of the above…..if no one tells them?

      It wasn’t his fault money was sometimes wasted.  He just tried to show where.

      That my friend is the job of the Auditor General and we had a damn good one.

       

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would we need an environmental assessment?

      mmm, lets see now, why do tourists come to Cayman? to enjoy the diving? to enjoy SMB?

      The assessment is there to look into if the dock would damage both. Tell me what is the point of having a massive concrete dock (which is what was planned then) for cruiseships if their is no reason for cruise shippers to come.

      That’ll just lead to move debt, but I’m sure a short sighted fella like you won’t understand good business sense and longterm planning

    • John Evans says:

      Harsh reality is that the berthing facility is probably not going to revive a failing Cayman cruise business that is currently being impacted by a number of interacting factors, which in general have nothing to do with getting passengers ashore.

      Whether or not the facility will turn out to be another Boatswain’s Beach remains to be seen but right now that investment would be better directed towards developing affordable stay over tourism because that could have an immediate, and tangible, impact on the economy.

      I wonder if the writer has a vested interest in the cruise berth?

    • Anonymous says:

      An environmental assessment would allow us to see the likely impact of a berthing facility and, in doing so, allow us to come up with ways to mitigate any negative effects.  Our environment is key to tourism.  Blundering forward without understanding what possible damage something might cause may result in a undesirable outcome.

      Also, the George Town infrastructure may not currently be suitable to handle the load of tourists that a berthing facility will bring.  An assessment of this would also allow us to put in place measures to counteract any ill effects.  We want to attract the new cruise ships that currently have a capacity of 5,400 passengers.  Dock one of those with a couple of the smaller cruise ships (average 2,000 capacity) and you’ll have a possible maximum of 9,400 persons, minimum of approx. 4,700 persons walking around George Town for a longer period of time than they currently do.  We already have traffic problems when cruise ships are in, what happens when we increase the numbers of tourists in GT?

      The environmental assessment isn’t to say "no we can’t"; it’s to say "yes, we can, but we’ll do it smartly".  Without considering the possible effects now, we’ll have a harder time trying to remedy the problems once the berthing facility is built.  

    • Anonymous says:

      "But Dan wasn’t all a darling to me.  Some of you on this site and overseas apparently are anti-Caymanian and would want to see Cayman fail. Just let me say this CAYMAN WILL NOT FAIL! "

      If we ever had an all-island vote, trust me, the people of Cayman and I know my entire family will side with their elected ministers 🙂

      Thank you for your bold comment. I know PPM are unhappy to see this UDP endeavor – I too was proud to see Mac sign for the berthing project. This may be his greatest accomplishment for these Islands.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Yes.  Sad day for Cayman.  Dan the man deserves STATUS!

  16. Anonymous says:

    You talk like their is no transparency at all. How come you can publish this then without facts to support the UDP moving him from office?

    • Bah says:

      post 13-06

       

      Was it not The Governor, And 2 non-member of UDP? that removed him from his post.  Or are You one to Down Mr. Bush For balming PPM for everthing, but wait aren’t you playing the blame card now. You make laugh.  

  17. John Evans says:

    Spot on comments and sadly he is not only not the first person to suffer this fate but most certainly will not be the last.

  18. islandman says:

    A step backwards for sure. Thank you Mr. Duguay for your honourable work here.

  19. slowpoke says:

    And people wonder why so many post under “anonymous”…

    This is not only sad but actually quite frightening for Cayman. It is also the first kink in the new Governor’s armor.

  20. Anonymous says:

    It is indeed a sad day for the Caymanian people, many of whom I am sure did not know that a post such as an "Auditor General" existed, prior to Mr. Dugay, and the crucial role that this person served.

    Love him or hate him, ironically, Mr. Dugay’s downfall may be related to the fact that he was too committed to doing his job, an example that many government workers should follow.

     

  21. I think you are indirectly attacking our Premier – the people’s elect.

    His observation about this man was a negative one. What was his observation?  What was the "facts" he had against the AG?

    Maybe you should investigate this before indirectly cast a negative light on the Premier.

     

  22. Anonymous says:

    Wendy: “the message sent to the community by this decision is simple: If you challenge authority you will be removed.”

     
    But let’s be rational now…
     
    What happens when certain authorities are looking out for the UK’s interest and not Cayman’s interest? 
     
    Just take it in complete trust for the UK?
  23. Anonymous says:

    What a sad day indeen.  It’s such a shame, yet no surprise, that this is the outcome.  Watch out people…you do your job too well and you may be out the door too.  What a message to send to our young people. 

  24. Mike Hennessy says:

    Dan Duguay truly lived up to the ideal of doing his job "without fear or favor".  Whilst we should regret his departure, I think the fact that he survived as long as he did says something positive in and of itself.  Hopefully the next AG will live up to that standard as well. 

    In my opinion this job is a good one for an expat, particularly if that person is not counting on receiving permanent residency and/or status.  That could give a person a certain amount of independence in that job and perhaps more willingness to "follow the money" than someone who has deep ties to the community or who hopes to build some.

     

    • Anonymous says:

       I think that most people are saying that this was a bad time to change our AG because there are a lot of books that haven’t been audited.  It would have been better to have him finish everything and make the new person start with a clean slate.  Also, there is a big time frame that no one will be watching the books.  That’s not good.  

      Caymanians need to realise and I’m one that we need to stop being anti-foreigner except when we getting something.  If a rich man comes in we kiss his behind but if it’s someone who telling us we doing something wrong, we can’t handle it.  Rich men get rich by taking not giving.  Remember that.  Oh, and all those charities they supposedly support, they get that all back with tax breaks.

      We’re not perfect and those audits need to be done.  In the end, they can only help us.