Talk to auditors, says Miller

| 10/05/2010

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 the office 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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  1. islandman says:

    "Yeah, hold on there…soon come. Who, what, hah?…here, call this number…hah"?

  2. Still Watching says:

    What happens to Department personnel who purposely or accidentally mislead an AG?? Just curious and waiting to find out.

    See page 56, second paragraph and compare with final PAC report on this audit.

  3. Scrooge McDuck says:

    Don’t pretty please them It’s clear they know who was unlawfully taking fuel and are stonewalling the issue to protect friends in a culture of free pensions, free health insurance, free time, free blackberries, what’s wrong with free gas too?  Who was dealt with?  In what way?  How did they find out if the system is so buggered up? We’re having a hard time believing all of this.  It just may be so many were taking advantage, they lost track, and were hoping no one would find out. That would be more believable Ezzard.

  4. Anonymous says:

    DAN the MAN did a great job!

    Yes, the "Tin God" civil servants still believe that they do not have to answer to anyone.  Well wake up, times are changing more and more you have to answer how my tax dollars are spent.

    Dan did a great job trying to look after my tax money.

    Only the crooks and inept wanted to see him go!

    Dan, fools they were that wanted to see you go!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Right, you are going to have bent people offering themselves up to auditors or actually telling on those who are bent around them.

    Sounds great in theory but ignores the local culture of silence.

  6. Scooby Doo says:

    I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those pesky auditors.

    • Justthinkin says:

      Who audits the PAC may I ask?

      • Chris Johnson says:

        Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes. Yes who indeed guards the PAC. Interestingly enough the Auditor General’s Department not being able to guard themselves appointed a big four firm to do so. One presumes that any wrongdoings of the department will have been highlighted over the past six years of Mr Duguay’s regime, in the audit firm’s report. As we have heard nothing I think there is some comfort in that and may stop the wailing and nashing of teeth of those who are not user friendly towards the AG and his department. As most of us know many shortcomings were found by previous AGs who were also very competent, but did not come to light because of the lack of transparency at the time.