Archive for May 10th, 2010

Nature loss ‘to damage economies’

| 10/05/2010 | 1 Comment

(BBC): The Earth’s ongoing nature losses may soon begin to hit national economies, a major UN report has warned. The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) says that some ecosystems may soon reach "tipping points" where they rapidly become less useful to humanity. Such tipping points could include rapid dieback of forest, algal takeover of watercourses and mass coral reef death. Last month, scientists confirmed that governments would not meet their target of curbing biodiversity loss by 2010. "The news is not good," said Ahmed Djoglaf, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). "We continue to lose biodiversity at a rate never before seen in history – extinction rates may be up to 1,000 times higher than the historical background rate."

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Tell-all generation learns to keep things offline

| 10/05/2010 | 0 Comments

(New York Times): Min Liu, a 21-year-old liberal arts student at the New School in New York City, got a Facebook account at 17 and chronicled her college life in detail, from rooftop drinks with friends to dancing at a downtown club. Recently, though, she has had second thoughts. Concerned about her career prospects, she asked a friend to take down a photograph of her drinking and wearing a tight dress. When the woman overseeing her internship asked to join her Facebook circle, Ms. Liu agreed, but limited access to her Facebook page.

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Talk to auditors, says Miller

| 10/05/2010 | 8 Comments

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline news(CNS): The chair of the Public Accounts Committee has warned civil servants to respond to auditors from the Internal Audit Unit as well as the Auditor General’s Office when they ask for information. During the committee’s meeting last week, when a number of witnesses turned up with new information regarding the fuel card usage and management report, Donald House, Director of the Internal Audit Unit, pointed out that his office had requested information numerous times during its audit to no avail. Ezzard Miller pointed out the importance of all audits and that government departments should not be waiting until they were called to PAC to offer up the necessary information.

“I would like to send a warning to people in the civil service: if you get a request to provide information for an audit please do so in a timely fashion,” Miller said, following revelations from House that this unit had delayed publication of the fuel management report many times as they waited on people to supply information regarding the questions that had been put about their concerns.
House pointed out that, although people were now coming to PAC and making various revelations about the fuel system, this information had not come to him despite many many requests and a continual attempt to get feedback when the report was being done.
The original internal audit was a confidential report and would have stayed that way had not the Auditor General’s Office brought what became known as ‘Gasboygate’ to light.
During the PAC’s questioning of witnesses on Thursday most denied that fraud had taken place but were unclear as to how certain they could be as a result of the multitude of transactions that were questioned in the internal audit and later the auditor general’s report. Most of the witnesses involved, however, said that where staff had been suspected of taking fuel not for government use it had been dealt with.
Miller said the conflict in opinions between the heads of departments and audit reports could be avoided if civil service management responded in a timely fashion when asked questions by auditors. He recognised that by being called to PAC it focused people’s minds but said the information needed to come before audits were completed.
“Between all of us we need to get these things sorted out,” the PAC chair stated, adding that the work of the audit and the committee was important regarding the oversight of public money and that civil servants needed to assist when asked.
Following his last PAC meeting Dan Duguay, who left his post on Friday, said that extracting information had been a significant problem during his time in office and the chair should not have to be making appeals to civil servants to give information to auditors.
Duguay revealed to CNS that he had been forced to threaten people during his audits with invoking the legal powers of the office in order to get them to turn information that he needed to do his job. “If the auditor’s office needs to see information that it should be turned over,” Duguay added, noting that on many occasions his office, like the Internal Audit Unit, had been forced to delay the publication of reports because of the lack of response to his office’s enquiries.
After his final meeting Duguay offered a parting message to the members of PAC by telling them to use the AG team’s talents and experience more effectively and to support the work of the office. He said theoffice had lots of information that could help the PAC when questioning witnesses and having open lines of communication with the audit office would assist the PAC in its work. Duguay pointed out that by consulting with staff at the AG’s office more, its own work would be more effective.
He also noted that the independence of the current PAC was a problem as he said it was supposed to be the least political of all parliamentary committees but with three government members an opportunity had been lost to have a truly balanced body that could oversee how public funds were managed on behalf of the people.

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