Burns takes aim at auditor general

| 26/08/2009

(CNS):  Local businessman and former George Town independent election candidate, Burns Conolly, says he has waited for almost four years to take some form of legal action over a report which he says damaged his business reputation. With the publication of the Public Accounts Committee’s findings on the special report by Auditor General Dan Duguay on the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal Capital Project due imminently, Conolly says he will finally be able to take up his case against the original report, which he has always insisted was erroneous and damaging towards the Burns Conolly Group.

“I have waited patiently as I did not want to corrupt the Public Accounts Committee process but once they have published their report on this then I will begin looking at proceedings against everyone who said that this report was correct,” the owner of the Burns Conolly Group, which was the project manager on the development, told CNS.

The local businessman announced on Cayman-Crosstalk, Rooster 101’s morning phone-in show, Tuesday when PAC chair Ezzard Miller made his weekly appearance, that he still intended to pursue legal action over what he described as the erroneous report. He said the report had been in the public domain since January 2006 without being corrected, but as soon as PAC had finished their part he would be free to press his case.

Speaking with CNS on Tuesday afternoon, Conolly said that the whole report had been a farce and had negatively impacted his business. “We did not get any new business for more than nine months after that report came out,” Conolly added. He said that the findings in the report were completely wrong and despite his submissions of some 800 pages of information to the PAC about why it was wrong,he said Duguay had made only the most insignificant changes to his report.

The fundamental findings Duguay made in his 2006 report were that the government could have saved more than $4 million if it had not bundled the tenders for the pier and the upland development together on the Royal Watler Port development.

Conolly insists that the development ended up being an entirely different project from that originally tendered and worth millions more than the original contract, and that it was one of the most cost effective projects which government had ever developed.

However, Duguay stands by his report as he says that ultimately his remit was to examine the details of the original tenders and he still questions why the two projects were bundled together and why the more expensive bids were picked. Despite the fact that change orders were made, he said the changes have little bearing on his report’s fundamental findings, which were, among others, that if government had picked one bid for the pier and another for the upland project it would have saved money.

“Ironically, we never really criticised Burns Conolly, who was the project manager,” Duguay noted, adding that the people who were criticised were on the Port Board and the director, who agreed with the office’s findings, although the report does talk about excessive overruns.

“Nobody has ever indicated where we were wrong with regards to the choice made in relation to the tender and I stand by the report. No matter what came after, no one has ever been able to answer why the tenders had to be consortiums for both projects and that two separate bids could not have been accepted, which would have been cheaper.”

Duguay admits his office did not have all of the details of the changes made post-bid, but when Conolly came to his office and they went through the report page by page, Duguay says he made many changes but most of the information was not relevant to his original findings, which he said were not fundamentally altered by it. “In terms of the original tender the best value for money bids were not chosen and no one has ever explained why,” Duguay added.

Conolly has always disputed the changes and says that Duguay did not take any of the information he had supplied on board and that the changes were typographical and not substantial. He also states that the report was never sent to him nor did the Auditor General’s Office ever ask the Burns Conolly Group to comment on it. Conolly says the Group became aware of this document several weeks after it had been distributed by the AG’s Office and received a copy from a third party.

In the report’s conclusion Duguay focuses mostly on the problems with the port management and states that the project was financially viable but was poorly planned and managed from the port’s perspective. “The procurement activities did not secure the best value for money and there is strong evidence of overcharges,” Duguay writes, adding that there were significant corporate governance issues, which needed to be addressed to ensure a proper planning and accountability for any future major capital projects.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Burns is what you would call a UDP extension cord !

  2. Thankful for small mercies says:

    We all better be glad Burns did not get elected as a MLA. He had plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on George Town alone. I can’t imagine what the headlines would be 5 years afterwards if he was ever elected to Parliament.

    Auditor General runs out of paper!!!!!!!

    Auditor General Office causes budget deficit of $5M !!!!!!!


  3. Anonymous says:

    Its really funny how some "upper class" people in this country believe that we are all stupid and that their continued smooth, squeaky clean talk can fool us all.

    The Burns Conolly Group (BCG) is an architectural firm and not a Project Management firm. BCG didn’t have one ounce of project management experience when they were hired as the "Project Manager" on the port project. So why did McKeeva give them the job ? Do you really need me to answer that ??

    Connect the dots !!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Raffaele says:

    Yes tell people about the other big deal agowaann Half Moon Bay tell them where your acreage is aaaaaaah Cayman.I feel it for those two big water lenses in that area Wey Dick and Joe deh. People dont be fooled please read Islands From the Sea by Murray Roed page 53 which clearly show a fault line that runs from proposed port to the little bluff on Northside of Island. Catastrophic Damage to this island.more money more money anotha dolla bill. The Breakers idea will flood the entire Island no winners there either. Politics as usual 

  5. Anonymous says:

    Burns would be well advised to let sleeping dogs lie…..before the entire story comes out !!!

    No amount of smooth talking will help then !!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    When you throw a stone in the pig’s pen the one that squeals is the one that got hit!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Isn’t it a bitch having ACCOUNTABILITY in Cayman? No one of the born variety-private sector or public- wants it, we are Caymanians etc etc, that’s one of the reasons our civil service is so useless-not to say there are some terrific civil servants. But it’s the whole "we are appointed for life/entitled to every benefit/ stop bloody criticising us you effing furriners ‘ mentality that is shafting Cayman. If it doesn’t change, Cayman is F—, well you know what I mean.

    Actually many of us think it is too late already.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ahh…. we are smelling that faint smell of accountability being demanded by the public!

      Let them kick while we dig.