‘We’re taking OAG seriously’

| 22/01/2014

(CNS): Following the release of more reports from the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) that show government is falling below standard when it comes to good governance, transparency and accountability, especially over how it spends tax payers money, the political and administrative arm of government has committed to improvements and doing a better job. In the past government in general has done badly at responding to the OAG's reports, Premier Alden McLaughlin told the press Wednesday, but said he wanted the public to know that his government took the reports and findings seriously. He said they would consider very carefully all the recommendations made and in many cases CIG was already working on improvements.

Following yet more damning reports from the OAG that highlight continuing inadequacies, failures in compliance, significant risks to public money and very poor levels of accountability and transparency in core government, and even more so in government companies and statutory authorities, the message from both the premier and Deputy Governor Franz Manderson was: we are working on it.
At a press conference at government headquarters both Manderson and McLaughlin acknowledged the shortcomings and outlined steps that government is making to address systemic problems.
"I know that for many people it seems that the government and the auditor general are always in opposition to each other and in the past response to the reports has left something to be desired," McLaughlin said, as he opened the first briefing he has held for many months. 
With the political and administrative arm of government working more closely than ever, despite the different responsibilities, there is just one government, said the premier said, adding that he wanted to send a clear message that what the auditor general found in his reports would be taken seriously.
Manderson outlined a list of actions, from training board members in government companies to more reviews of the Public Finance Management Law and the possibility of divesting some government functions, in order to improve compliance, accountability and good governance. He spoke of the Standards in Public Life Law, which would be tabled in the LA this session, and said work was well advanced on a public authority law. 
Looking at the overall problem, however, the premier said he felt that it would take time to change the fundamental culture in the service towards genuine accountability and to drive down costs but his government was committed to doing it. McLaughlin promised that there would be consequences and that government had to focus on results, with civil servants helping government to actually achieve its objectives and not just turning up to work to push paper.
Although successive governments had talked about the importance of a performance-based civil service, that must now be a reality, the premier said, and if civil service posts were not achieving government objectives then the jobs or holders would have to go.
Nevertheless, McLaughlin warned that cutting public sector jobs without knowing how the services those jobs deliver would still be provided would not help. He also pointed to the significant social consequences of sending home hundreds of civil servants without finding them other work, as government would be responsible for any Caymanian out of work as a result.
With myriad problems in government still to address, the deputy governor said he could not explain why change took so long but pointed to some improvements in the last few years. He also indicated this was a new administration and under the leadership of the premier both sides of government were committed to "making things happen".
The major issue of accountability and transparency, as well as serious conflicts of interest in the government companies and statutory authorities, featured heavily in the OAG's reports and the premier and deputy governor emphasized the need to regain control and responsibility for these authorities. Despite having some autonomy, they were still government and better ways of mandating how they behaved were needed, the men agreed.
McLaughlin went further and indicated that in some case the creation of authorities had not been an improvement at all and that some functions may be better served back in the hands of core government.
Manderson said there would be repercussions regarding the authorities that had not responded to the OAG's survey.   
Check back to CNS later for more on the auditor's review of the governance of SAGs and government's response to the even greater accountability and performance problems facing them.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is all getting so old. "Where there's a will there's a way" comes to mind. Meanwhile, don't hold your breath anyone – this is Cayman's equivalent of Groundhog Day. Following this report, in government departments across the nation, let the grinning and joking begin.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why do statutory bodies give out scholarship out of their budget?  All scholarships ought to be handled by the education dept.

  3. Anonymous says:

    To make people accountable there needs to be repercusions.  

    From a young age we pass each and every student to the next level regarless of whether they achieve a passing grade.  From grade 1 we effectively tell our youngthat being accountable is not important. Result: many graduate deficient in literacy or basic mathematics skills required for any entry level job.  Result: the young graduates account for a large portion of the unemployed.

    Solution: promote accountability by setting minimum standards for passing each grade.

    Once on govt assistance we tell the unemployed that is it their option to register with the NWDA and ask them kindly to do so.  Reallly?  

    Fruthermore, we tell them that they come first before any foreigner by virtue of being Caymanian.  We then blame others such as businesses, the immigration laws, low wages, lack of technical schools, the nwda, Mackeiva, the UK and anyone else for their lack of accountabiity.

    Once they secure a job we wonder why they cant hold it or perform. 

    Time to stop holding our own peoples hands andforce them to be accountable. Our people must pass each grade, must register with nwda and be accountable for their efforts of searching for employment, must be told the reality that they would be first provided that they are the best candidate for the job.   Time to instate appropriate reprecusions for lack of accountability.  No passing, no payment of uneployment and no getting out of jail free cards.  

  4. Anonymous says:

    UCCI didn't respond to the survey according to the compass. The President was advised from his team of hacks and do nothing Deans that he would not look good in is transparent clothes. Well, I could care less, I got my office from just being a female and my bonus work for clapping in sync at the meetings.

    -The rebel without a braw

  5. Anonymous says:

    Basic HR would require employees to agree to a professional conduct statement and code of ethics/oath of office.  Through that document there is fundamental recourse against those that do not fulfill their professional responsibilities.  Surely, this basic agreement must not exist if heads of departments continue to be allowed to fail year after year, for almost a decade?   

    • Anonymous says:

      None of these wondeful governance things apply to Caymanians; that's the one thing the mighty Auditor General would not dare to say, because he is not one himself.

  6. B. N. Onneste says:

    "the premier said he felt that it would take time to change the fundamental culture in the service towards genuine accountability and to drive down costs"

    It wouldn't take time to change the "fundamantal culture" (whater that is) if they were told to
    shape up or ship out.  None of these people are irreplaceable.


    "If civil service posts were not achieving government objectives then the jobs or holders would have to go"

    Again…..  tell them to shapeup or ship out!


    "some functions may be better served back in the hands of core government."

    Hmmmmmm….. I have some doubts about this, but I don't believe it could be much worse.

  7. Anonymous says:

    "Oh no  you're not!"

  8. Anonymous says:

    Poor Deputy Governor and Premier

    Thank you Mr. Auditor General for proving once again that it's just another day in Wonderland.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Until there is true accountability and persons who are poor performers are dealt with and ultimately let go after years of incompetence and the croynism is exposed and stopped maybe then Caymanians will believe what comes out if the mouths of politicians.

  10. Anonymous says:


    • Anonymous says:

      Re Repercussions regarding the OAGs.  Does he, the DG, have authority over the Authorities?

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Dept Gov. has taken his Immigration Dept hat with him to his new position and is still protecting those he chooses

  12. Anonymous says:

    The Govt. needs to stop accepting what they are told when they ask questions with the Dept heads and ask persons who feel the pain of their inadequacies. I know I am one of them. He who feels it knows it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The OAG needs to be taken seriously. After waiting forever to be helped at Immigration today an application was not accepted because there was no Police Clearance Certificate. Earlier today that department refused to accept an application for a Police Clearance Certificate because the person's passport stamp had expired. There is no sense of understanding one way or the other between the departments of Government. There is no supervision to stop this kind of ludicruous behaviour. The higherups in the department have their positions sealed by those above them and we the public suffer on a daily basis

    • Anonymous says:

      They are Caymanians. They need a job. Performance does not matter that much.

    • Anonymous says:

      i feel very sorry for anyone that has to deal with immigration.  Its perhaps functioning at its worst.  They have become efficient at losing documents and blaming the customer and even when they are supplied again, they still get lost.  Mr Manderson, or whoever is in charge of overseeing that dept please get on with it before immigration shuts us all down!

  14. Anonymous says:

    AG give it to them. You have no idea how incompetent various departments behave in. Licencing Dept is the only dept with any sense of knowledge about what is going on. Immigration is the pits they have no conscience about having people waste time sitting for up to 3 hours to be turned away without getting through with what they went there for. Today after waiting forever to submit an application for a domestic who is off the island we were told that the application could not be accepted until Health Insurance coverage was secured for the incumbent. They are out of their minds and someone needs to wake up and realize that they have developed a new meaning to stupitidy

  15. Anonymous says:

    So when are heads going to roll? When is someone going to be held accountable.

    Oh that's right. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    Business as usual.

  16. Anonymous says:

    How refreshing! But this does not come as a surprise to anyone and something should have been done before now. Now we want to see some real action. Not lip-service or excuses, firm action. Get those snouts out of the trough by any means necessary.