AG Reports should be tabled

| 18/04/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island Headline News(CNS): The chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Ezzard Miller, said he wants to see the process by which the auditor general’s reports are released to the public formalised and clarified before the new AG takes up the post. The independent MLA admitted that there was ambiguity in the way reports are made public documents and he said parliamentary Standing Orders needed to be changed so that the reports would be laid on the table of the Legislative Assembly to make them public, as is the case with every other type of government related report.

Following the latest disagreement between Miller and Dan Duguay over when the updated version of the State of Government Financial Accountability should be released to the public, Miller said the Standing Orders needed to be changed to make it clear so there can be no misunderstandings regarding when these reports can be in the public domain.
He explained that at present there was no constitutional authority for any auditor general to release the reports from the office into the public domain as that was the role of parliament. He said the auditor general was independent and free to choose the investigations carried out by the office, but once the auditor and his or her team completed those reports they became the property of the Legislative Assembly.
Miller said he had made suggestions some time ago to change Standing Orders to remove the current ambiguity and said he had again spelled out the changes that were needed in the PAC annual report.
“I am disappointed that government has not yet had a meeting to put the proper changes in place,” he said. “Had that been done none of the controversy would have arisen.”
Miller said the latest report from the AG was very important and it needed to be a public document and he had no intentions of trying to prevent that from happening. However, he noted the procedure had to be followed, which meant he needed to ensure all members had seen the report before it was declared a public document, and he was doing everything he could to expedite that process under the current agreement made between the former PAC chair and the current AG.
“My performance as chair of PAC has demonstrated my commitment to getting these documents into the public domain but it must follow a legal process,” he added. Miller noted that in the wake of the news that there would be a new AG coming in July it was even more important that the current uncertainty about the reports was removed.
At present, under the written agreements made between Duguay and the former chair of PAC, Osborne Bodden, the AG reports would be brought to the Legislative Assembly for the members, and two days after they received them the report would be public. However, the question about how the members confirm receipt if the House was not in session was never clarified, Miller has claimed. He said he had to be certain that all members actually had the report, which was why while the House was not sitting as was the case now, he was having to contact members to ask them to collect the report.
Miller said that circulating the document by email was not sufficient since one could not be sure the members had seen the email and therefore opened the report, and he said he wanted members to sign to say they had it so there could be no question of any claiming they had no knowledge of the content.
Duguay took his latest report regarding the state of government finances to the LA on Wednesday and in the past he would have circulated the report on Friday. However, the report has not yet been released and the contents remain a mystery. CNS will continue to call the PAC chair until he gives his OK for this latest key auditor’s report to be disclosed.

Category: Headline News

Comments (12)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Will anyone get hurt?

  2. anonymous says:

    And now some support for Ezzard….Mr. Miller is actually correct here. The standing orders are clearly ambiguous with the “agreement’ that Ozzie had with the AG. We know why Ozzie and the PPM allowed the AG’s reports to stay out there without the PAC actually doing anything for 4 years…it is a simple as the fact that the PPM thought they were damaging to the UDP. The last PAC did nothing and we should be getting a rebate from Ozzie for doing nothing. And let me say prior to the next 20 blogs..I am not UDP…this was clearly the reasons the AG got away with his substandard reports.

    The PAC should be led by an independent or a member of the Oppossition. That way when the AG issues a report the PAC has no reason to ‘sit’ on the report for years. The fundamental problem in the last 6 years is that the reports were so far behind in review that the PAC ended up with Government members in control of it. That should never happen.

    Ezzard is trying to follow the process and is only ensuring that the AG’s reports do not sit in the public domain without the very parties audited having an official avenue to respond. The PAC’s job is to review the AG’s report and make its own findings on the topic. That way the public can have the whole story.

    Mr. Duguay was allowed to release his reports, go on talk radio and promote it, without those named in the reports having a process to disagree, justify or confirm his findings. Even when the PAC found his reports were “not substantiated” and “mitigated by witnesses evidence” he still runs to the press like a spoilt child to say he still believes his report was accurate.

    I do understand the level of public following this AG has gotten however. It is not completely like lemmings following the pied piper, but more a situation where someone believes that they are getting the truth on Governmental waste and believing it. That is why most accept this AG not withstanding his mistakes.

    We need to ensure that the AG, PAC and Government work the way they were supposed to. In a way that ensures full transparency but also protects the parties involved from being maligned. With no accountability in the AGs position nor with his reports, he has beena ‘loose canon’ not completely of his own making. Ezzard recognizes that and wants clarity, plain and simple.

    Please read the posted Standing Orders here and note article 5 and 7: http://www.legislativeassembly.ky/portal/page?_pageid=1588,2236564&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

    • Anonymous9 says:

      Well said until the immature named calling.

      You lost credibility with that. (I counted 3)

      It’s bad enough that we have to put up with it in the LA. 

      • Anonymous says:

        The truth hurts…however point taken..should have read ” The Immediate Past Chairman of the PAC”

    • Concerned says:

      Loose canons should be used more often to wake up the populace and get everyone’s attention. The AG in his latest report is not using a cannon but a scud. I wonder if that will get anyone’s attention? It should do.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Well said, 17:01.

  4. TennisAce says:

     OK this sounds simple enough.   If a member of the LA is sent a document, he is deemed to have received it after 24 hours has passed.  Every member of the LA not only has an office,  but I am sure they also have an assistant, office manager, secretary or some other dogsbodies who keeps their calendar.  In legal circles a document is deemed to have been served as set out by contract or statute.  So, in this case if there is already an agreement that 2 days after the report has been sent out it is deemed to have been received by members of the LA, I am at a loss as to understand Mr. Miller’s argument that efforts must then be made to ensure that every  member of the LA has received a copy of the AG’s report. In addition, if a document is sent by email, there is a feature in Outlook called a "read receipt" and a "delivery receipt".  Once a document has been sent all the sending party has to do is choose these options to ensure that not only has it been delivered to the correct address but once the email is opened an automatic read/receipt is generated.  In addition, if you send it by bearer, have someone at the member’s office sign for it.   I just do not see the problem here. Plus, why do the members have to scrutinise the AG’s report before the public.  It is the public after all who are paying for the provision of these reports.

    • Anonymous says:

      All that you say sounds right to me.  However I must disagree with your view that assistants, office manager and secretaries are "dogsbodies"!  You must be a lawyer!

    • Joe Bananas says:

      This would only work if all parties involved are actually competent.  Which explains why almost nothing works.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What does Miller know about legal process?  Gimme a break, just release the report Ezzie.

  6. Report? What report?? says:

    I did the same with my school reports!  Though "the dog ate it" won’t be acceptable and it didn’t work for me either.  Neither will, "the report’s incorrect.. the teacher hates me!"  But maybe it’s a good report.

  7. Anonymous says:

    "…….how the members confirm receipt if the House was not in session…."

    This and the comments about email reveal the ghastly petty bureaucracy that "yesterday’s men" are so fearful of in 2010 and which makes the old civil service rule book, General Orders, and procedural regulations like Standing Orders so beloved of so many in this cutting edge financial center. Who should arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic? The Captain? The First Mate? The Purser? We should maybe consult the Order of Precedence put out by the Protocol Office (after 9 months of a new Government). This will take time to resolve and will involve many committees and position papers.

    You know what to do Ezzard. For Cayman’s sake, just do it and stop bitching about the (petty) issues involved. So many icebergs are ahead it isn’t funny.