Auditor plans Xmas report

| 13/08/2010

(CNS): The new auditor general has revealed that he intends to meet the audit office’s legal obligation to produce an annual report on government finances before Christmas, regardless of whatstatements have been submitted to the office. Since the implementation of the Public Management and Finance Law there have been no annual financial reports on the public purse because of the failure of so many government entities to complete their own financial reports. The last time a full set of accounts on public spending was published was for the financial year 03/04. However, Alistair Swarbrick said yesterday that he would be presenting the Legislative Assembly with a consolidated financial report up to 2009/10 before 15 December of this year, regardless of what has actually been presented.

“We will meet our statutory responsibility to publish an annual report,” Swarbrick said. “It will highlight the progress so far and the opinions that have been given on financial statements, as well as address the key issues and problems.”
 
He saidthe office was going to be as pragmatic as possible and would give a comprehensive overview of the accounts as they are now and how they would be addressed in future. He explained that many of the issues and problems which have caused the backlog, for each financial year, are going to be the same, which is why the office has decided to roll the last six years of government finances into one report to give a full picture rather than attempting to do an annual report for each of the missing six years.
 
Swarbrick, who took up his post last month, said that the primary focus for the Auditor General’s Office at this moment was getting the backlog of all government accounts up to date. “We are in the middle of a firestorm right now and the backlog is the priority,” he said.
 
Asked about Public Accounts Committee chair Ezzard Miller’s optimistic position that he expected that most of government’s delinquent accounts would be up to date by the end of September, the new auditor general said he couldn’t comment on that at the moment but that by December his office would be making a full and frank up to date report.
 
His position, he said, was that the audit office was about holding government to account and helping to improve its reporting to ensure that public money was being managed properly. He said he intended to guard the independence of the auditor’s office and that he had an obligation to ensure money was spent efficiently and that the work of his office should be open and transparent and in the public domain.
 
The new auditor general said he had discussed the issue of when special reports, or what Swarbrick termed as "Performance Audits", would be made public with the PAC chair in order to establish a clear and agreed time frame for their release to remove any ambiguity. He said that when whatever was agreed was in place the LA, the public would know what to expect and, as a result, when his office began an audit he would be able to set a target publication date so everyone involved would know exactly when a report would be released.
 
The office also has plans to publish a list of the performance audits that it intends to undertake and why. Swarbrick said that risk assessments of performance audits the office would be conducting were currently underway and that the office would announce which ones it would undertake as soon as possible. He said a schedule, which would cover a three year plan for the office, would be ready before the end of the year.
 
Pointing out that the plan might change as a result of circumstances, he said the goal was to be as transparent as possible about the workings of his office and that the strategic plan would help the public hold his office to account.  He also stated that once the office had announced the intention to begin a performance audit and why, it would not then comment until the report was completed.
 
Although his predecessor, Dan Duguay, was widely criticised for openness with the media, Swarbrick said he believed the press played an important part in the work of the auditor’s office as it was through the media that the public would learn what the auditor’s office was doing and in turn how public money was managed.
 
“We are accountable to the Legislative Assembly but in the wider perspectivewe are accountable to the public as it is public money,” he added.
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Comments (14)

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  1. Stating the obvious says:

    I thought Auditors audited…………is it not down to voters to vote for political change if they disagree with existing policies and practicies!

  2. Anonymous says:

    CNS I take offense with your heading of XMas. Since Cayman is a Christian Nation, it would be more appropiate to rename your title to a Christmas or a December report.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As usual….the majority of you that choose to empty your spleen via this forum is a bunch of misguided idiots that really know much about nothing.

    Firstly, for information to be useful it has to be timely and accurate. Providing information that relates to the 2005 financial year really has no use at this point. The sad truth in all of this is that the person who should be held accountable for this mess isnt mentioned in none of your posts thus far. Come to think of it….when was the current FS appointed and how many reports have been submitted on his watch?

    Goodness gracious….it just occurred to me that he and I may have submitted the same amount of reports since he has been there and I am a bartender. Ineed to change jobs…..I am in the wrong line of work.

    • Lachlan MacTavish says:

       With respect….I had 33 yrs on the island and the last 20 yrs (perhaps we should call it modern politics) didn’t see much of any public sectors balancing, having good records or paying for them selves. Why is it going to change.

  4. Scrooge McDuck says:

    Mr. Swarbrick accountability is a nice sentiment but what happens when you issue your all mashed-together Consolidated Financial report and it is missing critical components such as verifiable accounts from various departments and ministries?  On Cayman they are called Ministerys because no one has any idea what they’re doing with the public money.

    What will you do come December if the information for the report is shot full of holes and vital information is still missing?  Would you still, or can the public still, consider it a valid report?

    You see Mr. Swarbrick this game has been playing itself out in Cayman for years since 03/04 to be precise. The chief financial officers are not "chief" anything.  They are merely patsies and excuse makers for the mismanagement of public funds lost in the haze of shuffling responsibilities and accountability between senior management and whomever they can find to blame.  As financial officers they are quite useless and/or incompetent.  Mr. Duguay became firm with them and you know where that got him.  Also, if you have indeed decided "not to comment" while a report is "in progress" you yourself, instead of remaining at arm’s length will add to the fog.  These reports take how long to process??

    We’ve heard it all.

    Ok the people of Cayman may not have been burned……but without ANY information to the contrary.

    they sure feel that way.

    Prove it.

    It’s up to you to do something to correct that perception.  But DON’T be a fall guy for all the people in senior management positions who could care less.  Because as idiotic as it seems- they still get paid for the non-performance of the their jobs. That’s right. Their mandate is to remain in their positions and not get caught or do anything meaningful until retirement is a possibility.

    Don’t forget that you are OUR Auditor General.  Your mandate is to the people of Cayman and we have acute bull$hit detectors.  We’ve had to develop them out of necessity.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I wish him luck 

  6. Anonymous says:

    Strangely when I read this an old time saying came to my mind

    i.e. Come out like a lion and go in like a lamb.

  7. Dred says:

    I think to judge him we must look at how many times he raises a ruckus. I personally believe he will be a yes man but that’s my view.

    Time will tell when major projects are issued and they come and go and we hear nothing because we know this simply does not happen here in Cayman. EVERY major project has SOMETHING going on in them. That’s WITHOUT EXCEPTION.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well he can talk the talk… lets see if he can walk the walk… Time will tell where his loyalty lies.

    They have a saying.. sleep with dogs and you get fleas. Lets see if he shows signs of any next year and keeps himself clean.

  9. Joe Mamas says:

    Not hard to tell that he has little to no experience dealing with a Banana republic mentality of the government entities.  Although performance audits need to be done the other side of the coin is to fix what ever they find broken.  Its painfully obvious that the Government entities are filled with employees who do not understand how to do their jobs and department heads who don’t have to do anything about it.  Lets see how they will treat the new guy when he gives them the facts.  I am still waiting to see just how they spin the tale on where all the money went the last 6 years.  Good luck to the new Auditor.

  10. Dred says:

    Too bad our current government are scared stiff about doing these sorts of things. Saying that it simply won’t happen.

    This is why we can not get anywhere with trimming government expenses because they are all covering for each other.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Umm…yeah, not sure what we really need in this situation are "guess-timates".  Maybe the better approach would be to light a fire under the arses of the department heads so that the AG can actually get the real numbers to tell the people how bad of a shape the government’s finances are actually in…

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, Anon 9:20. But the "fire under the arse lighting" is not up to the Auditor General to do. And that is precisely what has never happened in the civil service before and may not ever happen in the future. There just does not seem to be the political and administrative will to do it, largely because it involves disciplining maybe even -gasp- firing Caymanian senior civil servants.

      • Anonymous says:

        You have just hit the big rusty nail on the head,  If the new auditor general just does as good a job as the last one he will be doing a great job but….If the current government just does the same job as the last then he will be ignored, gone and once again nothing will be done,  nothing will be fixed, and the past and future Government will continue to use the public finances as their own private stash.  If Gambleing was already legal I would bet the bank that those in charge will not let the truth surface.