Kurt urges action on report

| 06/10/2011

(CNS): The former opposition leader and newest member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has urged the deputy governor to ensure that someone, somewhere in the administrative arm of government takes ownership of the goal to review and revamp procurement. Based on the report by the auditor general regarding the management of how government buys goods and services, Kurt Tibbetts said he did not want to think about how much money could have been wasted over the years and the country was in no position to waste any more. He said the issue had been talked about in the past but no one had ever taken responsibility for the change, as he implored Donovan Ebanks to get the project rolling before he retired.  (Photo Dennie WarrenJr)

At the first open meeting of the PAC under the new chair, Moses Kirkconnell, on Wednesday and Thursday the members examined two reports by Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick and his team from the audit office which exposed the mismanagement of and disregard for the proper processes under which government should be buying the services and goods it needs. The shocking reports not only revealed pure management incompetence but the potential for fraud and corruption, as well as direct political interference.

The AG made a significant number of recommendations about how to fix the system and also indicated the need for leadership on the issue.

With as much as $250 milllion spent by central government on a diverse shopping list, from electricity consumption to construction services, the former leader of government business said that someone in the administrative arm of government had to take up the responsibility for ensuring that the recommendations by the auditor general were implemented and the changes that could begin to save government money got underway as soon as possible.

Called as a witness by PAC, the deputy governor said that he was willing to take the lead on implementing the project but procurement was not really the remit of Portfolio of Internal Affairs.

He said a new system wouldn’t happen overnight as he spoke about a timeframe that was long as two years before the many recommendations made in the reports could be implemented, if they were all decided to have merit. Ebanks said that he had begun talking about the possible changes with the financial secretary because he believed that procurement should remain the responsibility of the finance ministry, but he said decisions on how the country wanted to deal with the issue in general had to be made and he was not clear about who would make those decisions.

Questions such as whether or not there should be a centralized procurement unit, given that government was now decentralized, whether there should be a chief procurement officer, who should appoint the CTC and the technical committees, and how conflicts of interest should be dealt with were some of the issues that needed to be considered, Ebanks noted. He told the committee that someone did need to take ownership of the problem and he was willing to commit to begin the process.

Despite the urgency and scale of the mismanagement pointed out by Swarbrick in the reports, the first of which was published in July, Ebankssaid that over the next few months the goal would be to create a proper plan that would then be taken to Cabinet for approval before any changes could begin to be made. “It’s going to take time to get a handle on what we want to do,” Ebanks told the committee.

It was still not clear how the civil service would manage and communicate the procurement process with a view to cost cutting and value for money for public funds. Furthermore, he noted that while it had been apparent for many years that there were problems with procurement, there were so many other things facing the civil service it was not possible to do everything.

Tibbetts urged the deputy governor, who will be retiring in the next few months, to “get the ball rolling before he departed” and pass it on to Franz Manderson, who will be filling Ebanks’ shoes when he retires. Tibbetts said that if, as the auditor general had said in his report, millions of dollars were being wasted, the need for change should be at the head of the line in government’s plans to balance the budget and someone had to take hold of the issue.

“The race needs to begin,” Tibbetts urged. “Someone needs to say I own this because no one does.”

See the Auditor General's reports on the management of procurement and the case studies below.

Category: Politics

Comments (22)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Until we move the civil service and the politicians to being PAID BASED ON OUTPUT nothing will ever happen within the government, in real time.

     

    We pay these folks to potificate and sit around in committees. Output is a report that sits on a shelf at the archives.  Enough is enough.

     

    Please folks, ….everyone, vote for real people in the next elections. I know you like tasty turkeys and smooth driveways but try smooth & tasty governance next time. Try eating for the full 4 years not just the 4 months before elections and being forced to stay hungry for the next 44 months!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Yawn. I'm retiring in a couple of months. This could be sorted in days, given the will. But no. Go away. Franz; one for you, bobo. If you want my experienced advicejust  spin it out a coupla years

  3. mmcLaughlin says:

    LOL this is a joke right were are living in the 21st Century and "No debt management framework in place for the ministry of finance", this is just incredible knowing the fact the Mckeeva's ministry has three (3) chief officers!

    Flawless National Debt Management has to be our number 1 priority as a people. Paying down any debt and lessening future burdens should be the Ministry cause for being in existense! If they can't adhere to this basic principal,they should all be fired including Mr. Bush.

    Too many techncrats = very little positive results. I say replace Mckeeva the financial genius in Finance with someone like Mr. Anglin, maybe he would bring much needed leadership to the Ministry before the UDP's dimise come in May 2013.

    I know this is wishful thinking because if Mr. Bush gave up one "mustard seed" of the power he has concentrated , it would be cool day in Hell.

    The letter was written by McCarron McLaughlin and I approve of it's contents.

     

     

    • anonymous says:

      your last line highlights you have been watching too much American TV….wrong political system.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I was employed by a company in the past that had strict controls on purchases. Purchase order signatures were authorized by management according to a value that was assigned in “A Delegation of Authority Guidelines”, for instance a manager might be authorized to purchase up to x dollars and a CEO up to x + y dollars. After the purchase order was signed, the purchases could only be procured by another individual that had to sign for the purchases. The purchases then were received by another individual to ensure that more than one person was involved in the approval, procurement and receipt of goods. Payment was then approved by the issuer of the PO or his delegate whose responsibility was to see that the goods were received. Of course the value of approvals was determined by the individual’s position in the chain of command and the smaller the value of goods or services the less the restrictions on issuing purchase orders.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The head bureaucrat and the ex-head politician….and it just never occurred to them that someone should be in charge….priceless!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yup, found him a cozy spot next to Cap'n Eugene…

  7. anonymous says:

    Kurt still around??

  8. Anonymous says:

    With all due respect Mr. Tibbetts, are you just beginnng to brainstorm, why did you not think this should have been done while you were in office? But hold on! were you not the Leader,when you stated that the global economic crisis would not have any effect on the Cayman Islands? XXXX

    • Anonymous says:

      There is no point in reaping up what Mr. Tibbetts should or should not have done in the past. The past is in the past. Let's deal with what we have got to do now. Political deflection does not help.    

    • Anonymous says:

      NO-it was CHUCKIE!!!!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    wakey wakey time kurt!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I was employed by a company in the past that had strict controls on purchases. Purchase order signatures were authorized by management according to a value that was assigned in “A Delegation of Authority Guidelines”, for instance a manager might be authorized to purchase up to x dollars and a CEO up to x + y dollars. After the purchase order was signed, the purchases could only be procured by another individual that had to sign for the purchases. The purchases then were received by another individual to ensure that more than one person was involved in the approval, procurement and receipt of goods. Payment was then approved by the issuer of the PO or his delegate whose responsibility was to see that the goods were received. Of course the value of approvals was determined by the individual’s position in the chain of command and the smaller the value of goods or services the less the restrictions on issuing purchase orders.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Now we need to see them embrace and do something about the liabilities raised in Miller Report… now wouldn't that be something?

  12. Anonymous says:

    It beats me how Government pays up front for goods over seas, yet local suppliers are left waiting for months to get paid! Anyone know the reason for this?

    Anything and Everything that the Government needs to purchase MUST be purchased ON Island when ever possible if the price is compeditive.

    Companies should be given the chance to bid on all products and services required throughout the fiscal year at a fixed cost unless raw material costs are out of any suppliers control.

    To many people in Government give orders to certain companies because of the "I know him" scenario.

    This is bad business and totally out of order.

     

  13. Anonymous says:

    How stupid is this? 

  14. Anonymous says:

    It is obvious (though of course it is not stated openly) thatno one has any confidence in the Financial Secretary nor the Chief Officer in the Finance Ministry to get this done.

  15. Anonymous says:

    As I understand, Mr. Ebanks said that nothing is likely to be implemented for about 2 years. That coincides with a few months after the next election. Sounds about right IF the election changes who is in power.