CTC three men down

| 15/07/2011

(CNS): The recent political interference and intimidation of civil servants by local politicians in the procurement process led to a number of resignations from the Central Tenders Committee, leaving the panel shorthanded, the country’s auditor has said. In his recent damning report about the government’s management of its procurement system, the auditor general revealed that resignations had plagued the committee, making it very difficult for it to function properly. Recently three members of the committee submitted their resignations and Ronnie Dunn, who is also director of the Budget Management Unit, was acting as both chairman and secretary.

Swarbrick warned it was likely one or both roles under such circumstances could not be performed appropriately and it was unusual for such a large turnover of an operational committee at one time, causing significant difficulty.

He said the committee had established that four members constitute a quorum. “While it is difficult to ascertain if the CTC has the capacity to function effectively with five members … it is assumed that the chairman would frequently be required to cast a deciding vote. This is far from an ideal condition under which such an important committee is expected to operate.”

There are currently five members serving on the CTC but there have been up to eight members in the past. With no criteria for how many members should be appointed to the CTC or the basis for their appointment, the financial secretary had been appointing members until recently when he decided to not to replace the three who had resigned. This appeared to be as a result of the difficulties in finding people willing to serve. 

“The government is experiencing challenges to appoint the missing members of the committee because there are no clear criteria for membership,” he said, noting the reluctance of people to volunteer. “We would have expected that the Financial Secretary, who according to Section 40(2)(c) of the Financial Regulations is responsible for appointing members, would have clear criteria for the qualifications and experience for committee membership. This is not the case.”

Swarbrick noted that there had, in fact, been considerable political interference about appointees, despite the CTC being an operational committee and not a policy one.

“For such a committee, to operate effectively and to have the desired level of trust from suppliers and of the public in general, we believe it needs to be free from any form of political influence. We found that despite the requirement under the Financial Regulations for the Financial Secretary to appoint members of the CTC, politicians have been recommending who should be appointed to the CTC,” the auditor general added.

The AG further revealed that a senior public servant had submitted his resignation as a last resort to demonstrate his unease with the level of political override, and members of committees were stepping down and not wanting to participate in the current procurement process because of the impact of that political interference.

“During our interviews, we found evidence that public servants no longer want to participate in the procurement function, or do so with great trepidation because of the risk of political interference and the possibility for abuse of the process that might be associated with such activities.”

Swarbrick explained the importance of the CTC to the management of procurement as he said it was designed to provide oversight and assurance to the suppliers that the process has the necessary integrity and could be trusted to be fair and transparent. The CTC is supposed to ensure that the bids receipt process is managed effectively and that the evaluations of tenders are complete and accurate.

“There should be clear guidelines for how the committee should operate and what it expects from the entities that conduct procurement in the government,” the report stated. “There should be clear guidelines provided for how bids should be evaluated and what is expected to be included in an evaluation report that would recommend a successful bidder from a tender process.”

He said the audit office had reviewed the recent minutes of the committee and expected to find a very thorough and precise record of the proceedings. “We found that the minutes were thorough; however, they have not been signed and declared official in some form. We are also concerned that there is no one on the CTC who is a procurement specialist or that the Committee does not have access to the resources necessary to provide advice on its operations,” Swarbrick revealed.

The audit also examined minutes for the last three years and found that the CTC often got into detailed discussions about the information in the tender documents and in the evaluation reports. Swarbrick said this was unnecessary and resulted from a lack of understanding of the role the committee. He said CTC’s oversight role, to ensure that the procurement process has been followed by the entities, has been compromised by not having the necessary guidance for its operations.

For anyone who has not yet seen the AG’s damning report on the management of government’s procurement process it is posted below.

See related stories:

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Category: Politics

Comments (13)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    They are expecting too much with the competence level of senior civil servants some who are dinosaurs and wont go.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just like us good ole Caymanians!!!..Let's see how many we can shame and bring down for our own political good.

     

    Definition of Caymanians = Crabs in a barrel

  3. tim ridley says:

    Cayman is sadly reaching the point where it is becoming increasingly difficult to find strong, independent and qualified persons from the community to serve on the (ever-growing and perhaps unnecessary) plethora of statutory boards. There are a number of (obvious) reasons for this:

    1. The pool of available and experienced people (without conflicts of interest) is relatively small, given the size of the population;

    2. The time required properly to carry out the duties can be significant;

    3. The remuneration often bears no relationship to the time and responsibilities involved;

    4. The elected (politicians) and non elected (civil servants) members of Government often treat the outside board members as obstructive "crosses to be borne" , who should simply do their bidding and whose decisions and views can be ignored or circumvented.

    The existing pool of goodwill will be unneccessarily depleted, the willingness and quality of persons to serve on statutory boards will decline and the community will commensurately suffer if we do not prevail on our Government to value and respect those who give of their time and expertise to help the country and its institutions.

    Tim Ridley

    • MMisick says:

      Having sat on a board for sixteen years and having been fired without knowing about until I read the Gazette nothing surprises me anymore. Who on earth will sit on a board when they are men of straw?
      It is interesting to note that our Premier instructs the Port Authority on how to proceed. That makes him at least a shadow director or agent of the authority. The really good news is that by acting as such he shares the same negligence liabilities as the board of directors.at least he has assets as evidenced by the condos at the Ritz.

  4. nauticalone says:

    And ask;…. "when" did all this Controversy become so prevalent?

    Hint;…."You, D and Pee"

     

  5. Dred says:

    Let me just say this. I have known Mr Dunn for maybe 12-14 years now and Mr Dunn is not someone who is bullied into anything. He is professional and very smart. I have a great deal of respect for him as a former co-worker and as a friend. He shoots straight from the hip.

    I believe it is evidenced in the decisions they have made and how they have not always rode well with the present government and the reason why the CTC is sometimes stepped around when needing something to happen.

    I want to personally thank Mr Dunn for standing up for what is right despite the hostile environment he operates in.

    Evidence of the environment comes from the high turnover rate. Mr Dunn still being on the committee shows his desire and fortitude.

  6. Knot S Smart says:

    We have not heard anything about this crucial development from the Premier's office. Does his press secretary know this occured and is he going to give us an update anytime soon?

     

  7. Anonymous says:

    Whilst the Auditor General is correct in his observation that the workings of the CTC could be improved, to be balanced, it is unfortunate that he failed to mention the numerous times the system has been challenged and have withstood those challenges.

    The reason the powers that be find it necessary to totally bypass the CTC in order to get their way is because Tenders going through the CTC process are assessed objectively.

    If the CTC was not functioning as designed, you would have gotten a recommendation from them for Cohen and Company in the loan deal, you would have gotten a recommendation for Dart in the landfill deal and they would have tried to take China Harbour to try and make it legitimate.

    The Auditor General is failing to tell the public how many instances the Committee has drawn the ire of the powers that be in refusing to back down when pressured.

    I believe when the public sees the full report on the CCTV and the Cohen deal, they will see how robust the CTC process is and just how effectively it works.

  8. Anonymous says:

    We want to know the names of the three who resigned. FOI anyone?

  9. Folks says:

    I believe the FCOs intervention is imminent. We can all thank Mac and the UDP when it happens.

     

    • Anonymous9 says:

      Stop with the back and forth PPM/UDP BS. This is NOT a new thing and it is not just this administration or the last.

      It is a snowball that has been building

  10. ??? says:

    Is someone going to do something ??? What else do we need to hear ? Do we need to march again ?