Public purse facing scrutiny

| 19/10/2011

(CNS): The auditor general has set out his intention to scrutinize the public purse over the coming year with the publication of a comprehensive performance audit programme, which includes audits of how government cash is collected as well as how it is spent. Alastair Swarbrick’s team plan to audit the arrangements currently in place to determine, manage and collect government revenue and more than seven different areas of public spending. The office will be taking a closer look at how the public sector manages hospitality and travel expenses, investment in IT, human resources, executive transactions and transfer payments, as well as an examination of the government building and high school projects.

Swarbrick said that as a result of the significant risks identified in recent reports about government procurement, the office will also be monitoring and reviewing procurements on an ongoing basis. He pointed to a long list of government projects and areas of expenditure that will be closely monitored and may also become the subjects of public audit if the need arises.

He said his team will be taking a look back at previous audits to find out if recommendations had been acted upon.  “We also plan to follow up a number of our previous performance audits to examine whether the issues identified, the recommendations made or the lessons learned have been addressed,” Swarbrick stated.

These include a review of the legal aid programme, a review of the expenditures for the UK police operations Tempura and Cealt, the internal audit’s report on fuel card usage and management, and the Matrix scrap metal report.

The newly published programme further reveals that the office is in the process of completing a performance audit on the management of overseas medical expenseswhich is expected to be published before the end of this month. Next month the government’s top auditor also plans to publish a report on how government deals with fraud.

Alongside the publication of the work the audit office plans to carry out between now and the early part of 2013, the office has also published its strategic pla,n which sets out the goals and explains the importance of the government watchdog.

“This is a time of significant change and uncertainty, and the pressures on public finances present significant challenges for government, as they seek to contain and reduce costs,” Swarbrick stated. “The risks that these challenges present reinforce the need for effective accountability of public expenditure and the importance of independent scrutiny of that expenditure by my office.”

The auditor general points out that those responsible for public business and handling public money must be held accountable, in accordance with the law and proper standards “to those who use and pay for the services provided”,  the people of the Cayman Islands.

“Public resources should be safeguarded, properly accounted for and used economically, efficiently and effectively,” wrote Swarbrick. “Ministers, boards, chief officers, managers and public officials have the primary responsibility for ensuring that public business is conducted in accordance with the law and proper standards and that public money is handled with integrity and spent appropriately.

He said public bodies and those responsible for conducting their affairs must discharge this accountability by establishing and maintaining proper governance arrangements and effective stewardship of the resources at their disposal.

The public auditor also noted the importance of his office’s independence and the need to make the results of the audits and reviews available to the public and to democratically elected representatives. It is vital to ensure public accountability, Swarbrick said, so that all stakeholders can effectively hold government to account for its decisions and actions.

“This presents some specific challenges for the Cayman Islands, with public entities not producing accounts and financial statements effectively and efficiently to support robust financial management and accountability,” he pointed out. “As the watchdog of government spending our primary aim is to hold government to account for how it manages and spends the scarce resources at its disposal.”

He also stressed the need for his office to help government to improve its accountability, which will in turn improve governance and the provision of services to the people.

See the performance audit programme here

See the strategic policy statement here

See the new office website here

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  1. Anonymous says:

    one of the positive points to being an overseas territory……….. independent 'watchdogs' to create balance, there's no way I would support independence unless there are mechanisms in place to monitor politicians and their 'blind followers' who will not care about people who are not in their groups and worse who can't/wont vote for them


    Keep up good work! 

  2. Anonymous says:

    I'd say this one's definitely worth his 10 year permit! 

  3. Anonymously IRON CLAD says:

    I will only say thesefew words… EXCELLENT, SUPERB, AWESOME!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Looks like someone somewhere decided they did not want another T&C, go get them Mr. Swarbrick, there are plenty of them and its time they were put away

  5. Anonymous says:

    Run UDP run,Run PPM run,unna hurry up,go hide in Mt Trashmore before Dart capp it off,Swarbrick coming and he looking fa unna!!

  6. Shock and Awe says:

    One of the reasons for the massive support of the OCCUPY movement is that people sense they are involved in something more meaningful than the sham elections governments have been handing them. One group after another but nothing changes except the guilty this is a worldwide phenomena and for good reason. People have had enough as most are willing to work hard and abide by the rules if they see fairness and results. But the results they have seen are more fees, higher costs, lower wages, reduced benefits and social programs and governments unwilling to "tighten their belts" as they recommend everyone else do. These "tough times" are not the result of anyone working less or fewer hours or slacking off. No. Ask anyone, these tough times are the result of  special treatment, favortism, handouts and public funds being squandered by people who have been unaccountable. That is why this statement from the Auditor's office has had so much support. Because that's all people ask for. A level playijng field.

    And thesame accountability that we are subjected to, and accept, whenever we make our financial decisions to do with our money.

    Thank you AG.

    • B.B.L. Brown says:

      Shock and Awe, I clicked on the "thumbs up" for your comment 10 times but it only worked once.  Darn.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is great. I am all for airing out the filth, but what will happen if the inconsistencies are proofen and exposed? Will there be any consequences fdor the people responsible? Will charges be pressed? Will those people be removed from their positions? Will they be banned from running for office for life? Who has the power and ability to bring those people to justice?

    I am just worried that we are going to find out a whole lot of stuff …………….but nothing will come of it as usual.


  8. Boston Tea Party says:

    I hope he starts with the GT port project before the Premier gets away with handing it to the Chinese on a plate – a bigger mess of public procurement, conflicts of interest and mismanagement (at the very least) to the disbenefit of local business people is difficult to imagine

  9. Anonymous says:

    Please also look into the goings on at the Public Service Pensions Board-hiring of relatives as staff, paying them ridiculous bonuses and other benefits and so on. Been going on for years and years but as usual officials were too weak hearted to do anything about it.

    • Anonymous says:

      totally agree @7:34 and I think greater scrutiny in every unit, department and portfolio where the heads of these departments/portfolios have hired their immediate family members. They should accept that if they are going to have family hired then even more objective scrutiny of records should be done.

      The public should not have to pay for their family members to be employed, receive benefits at our expense. If they were selected fairly and have demonstrated productivity etc then fine, but these are some of the 'loopholes' that need to be curtailed and people breaking rules acting beyond their powers should be held accountable and suffer the consequences.


  10. Dreadlock Holmes says:

    1. This is exactly what should happen.

    2. This is exactly what government doesn't want to happen.

    3. When money is gone or mis-spent where or how do you get it back?

  11. Anonymous says:

    Start in Cayman Brac with Social Service, XXXXX

    • Anonymous says:

      I posted this same thing yesterday and cns wouldnt print it,Dunno why but seriously if you all really know the money social service is giving away in cayman brac you would cry.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Right about now Big Mac is probably thinking that it would have been a good idea to renew Dan Duguay's contract.

  13. Forth Class Citizen says:

    This is good. We the People will accept any resignation now.

    • The future says:

      "It is an historic moment. It is the end of tyranny and dictatorship."  Oh wait….that was a BBC comment on Gaddafi's death, for a moment I was hoping the quote related to Cayman.

  14. R.U. Kidden says:

    It seems that everyone is behind you on this one, Mr. Swarbrick… including me!  This is something that is LONG overdue.  The article states, "Next month the government’s top auditor also plans to publish a report on how government deals with fraud."  I would surmise that the answer to that might be, "Right, left, and under the table"!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Let the truth be exposed to the harsh light of day! But I fear, Mr Swarbrick, you will at times feel like a Salmon making its way up a cascading torrent. Many fish do make it through, so let's hope you turn out to be one of them. Watch out for the Grizzlies at the tops of the waterfalls! They like to claw you out of the air, just as you're looking good. As Spartacus might have said, "let the public's unanimous support lend wings to your purpose," or should I say 'fins'? You could turn out to be the most loved man in Cayman. The ones that will hate you, we don't care about.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If he discovers inconsistency in disbursements of public funds XXXX, what happens next?


    Can the Auditor General turn over his findings to the police for prosecution under the anti-corruption law?


    Can charges be pressed against government officials after a completed audit?


    CNS, thank you for providing their email address to start a complaint at the AG's office, and does the anti-corruption team also have an email address for the public to file a complaint?


    Are there any other departments to recommend to the public to start an ethics complaint?  I'd like to cover all bases because I am tired of all this garbage, and it seems like there's hope on the horizon with this Auditor General and anti-corruption team. 


    The sooner our elected leaders realise that they are accountable to us, the better Cayman will be.  We have been ignored far too long!

    • Anonymous says:

      If he discovers inconsistency in disbursements of public funds

      If he doesn't find it I would be amazed or he is not looking in the right places.

      Evidence of Corruption can be taken directly to the Commissioner of Police.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am going to work on this straight away then.  What is the Commissioner's email address?


        Judgment Day is coming soon, so get ready to clean house! 




  17. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr Swarbrick. There are many that just want some of these things to go away such as Tempura and Cealt, fuel card usage, Matrix etc etc. But we know that those with responsibility that wasted our tax money need to be exposed.

  18. peter milburn says:

    Finally someone to really offer true transparency re Govt spending from top to bottom.This has been needed for Soooooooooooo long and happy to see our AG getting things rolling.Let the chips fall where they may.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

  20. Anonymous says:

    this is a damn good accountant, everyone in the cayman islands should submit letters of refrence for this guy and his team.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I like this Auditor General – he is really doing his job well.   One point though Mr. AG, it makes no sense to do all these audits, if the people at the top with whom the buck stops, are not held accountable.   When it is found that there is mismanagement or breaching of proper process, something should be done about it to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.   The only way it will stop and Cayman will return to good governance, is for those in charge to realize they will be held accountable.  Name names in the local newspapers and say what happened and what you are doing about it.  Bring it into the open for the electorate  to be able to know what is going on.   For too long things have been allowed to slide, get swept under the rug, and covered up. 

  22. Anon says:

    Daaaaaaaaaammmmnnnnn….  Finally  well spent on paying this AG. 


    Keep up the vigilant work!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Way to go, Mr. AG.  For too long these people think that the public purse is their "private" purse and they can spend it willy nilly without accountability.  Things need to change drastically and fast, before they have a chance to go spend more money yet again. 

  24. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr. Auditor General.

    Some may call it "bureaucratic harrassment" but as a Caymanian I do not hesitate to say that we need as much light shone on things as possible. Please do not leave any corner un-inspected. If money was not wasted there would be more than enough of it to pay for the essentials without all the recent taxes on the people.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Oh Oh… he better get his back packed me thinks!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I don't know why so many have given you a thumbsdown here for what is essentially an unfortunate truth.  Because our new Auditor General is indeed doing an excellent job in pushing for transparency and safeguarding the public purse, we all know its only a matter of time before he is on the receiving end of attacks by those who risk being exposed (without mentioning any obvious names).  We can all remember too well what happened to his predecessor Mr Duguay, and I honestly feel Alistair is doing a waaaayy better job than Dan did.  I am so happy to finally see him sticking his neck out and doing what Cayman so desperately needs.  Perhaps we do have a future after all, which I fear we wouldn't have without such a good Auditor General.  Finally someone really doing their job and doing it bloody well too.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree. Sometimes it seems the thumbs down is a game called follow the leader. Pun intended.

  26. Anonymous says:


    A very good and sensible approach. All the best to you and your staff, Mr. Swarbrick.