DG watching travel costs

| 13/06/2014

(CNS): The deputy governor has said he is carefully monitoring travel and hospitality costs and has already called for an internal audit to see how, after one year, the new travel policy is working. Franz Manderson said government will be vigilant in detecting any deficiencies and pursuing appropriate consequences. Although there has been considerable outcry from the public about the past infringements that have gone unpunished, going forward the civil service boss is promising more accountability against the backdrop of much stricter financial management across the public sector.

“To help sustain real change in the institutional culture, there needs to be timely and regular monitoring of travel expenditures. On the one-year anniversary of the new Travel Policy, I have called upon Internal Audit to assess compliance now that we have recognised policies and procedures in place,” Manderson said. “I await these results to better assess the impact of the current travel policy. In the interim, chief officers and I, as facilitated by the Portfolio of the Civil Service, will next consider a policy to govern official hospitality expenditures.” 

In a statement following the auditor general’s damning report revealing that as much as $10 million could have been spent on travel and hospitality by government officials between 2009 and 2012, with very little accountability and almost certainly considerable abuse, Manderson said things had already changed.

Many of the eleven recommendations in the audit have either been implemented or are in the process of implementation, he said, adding that the audit represented an “historical snapshot, prior to the adoption of the new travel policy” and he was keen to determine whether there have now been positive changes to “the financial management processes and institutional culture” since it was adopted last summer. 

“The government will be vigilant in detecting any deficiencies and pursuing appropriate consequences for the same,” the deputy governor warned. “The recent travel audit demonstrates the extent to which accountability systems failed us in years past. I’m optimistic that our focused efforts to correct this situation will yield improved results.”

Manderson noted that improving government’s financial performance and raising accountability is a continual process, as he defended public sector workers. Government, he said, had set the tone for strict financial management and civil servants have responded to the call, having helped to achieve a surplus forecasted to exceed $100 million in contrast to the significant deficits incurred in previous years.

It was in late 2012 that the deputy governor asked  the Portfolio of the Civil Service to develop a travel policy to address what he had perceived as significant deficiencies in the Cayman Islands Government’s internal controls relating to travel. It was evident that there was no uniformity in the approach individual agencies pursued to manage travel expenditures, and seemingly no consequence for failure to comply where such minimal standards existed. 

The policy adopted last July tackles the identified loopholes Manderson stated. It sets one policy framework which applies to all civil servants, regardless of their seniority or the particular agency where they work as well as elected officials. It restricts the use of travel advances, which were identified in Alastair Swarbrick’s report as being open to serious abuse. Instead, travelling government officials will rely on a published schedule of per diem limits which vary by jurisdiction.

The policy simplifies reporting methodologies to provide more cost effective and consistent reporting. Above all and probably one of the most important considerations to alleviate public concern about the abuse is that managers must now consider whether the travel is necessary at all or whether the business objective can be achieved as effectively through alternative means.

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Category: Politics

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Franz chooses to shoot fish in a barrel rather than address the more difficult issues.

    • Anonymous says:

      And if costs are so  important then why are they having a big party for Eric Bush's ministry and another one for the auditor general?  That's a bunch of hypocrits just trying to bring other Caymanians down.  Why was a certain Expat in the Dep Gov's house just been given another 3 years contract and he's like way past 65?!  Why are other Caymanians being pushed out at 60?  What about the expat that was given a contract to work on our budget and he lives in England?!!! These people are so disappointing!  

      • Anonymous says:

        You have so many "untruths" in this short post, bobo, I can't even bother reply. You musn't listen to gossip amd rumor, you know. It does not befit one in your position.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Mr Manderson has been leading by example – all his credit card statements are published along with his travels. Just look at the Office of Deputy Governor website. Thank you Sir. Please do not be deterred by the negative posters. Remember they gave a thumbs down to your successful 5k challenge. We admire the changes you have made in the Service- only the blind cannot see!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    As a Caymanian who is not a CS but had the benefit of working with Mr Manderson, I can almost contrast the behaviour and attitude of many CS who fall under him. I've never experienced anything less than professionalism and integrity from him. It explains to me why and probably who is writing these ridiculous comments. If we lose Manderson that will be the end of hope for the private sector in resolving the myriad of issues this country faces.  Any politician will tell you they cannot direct CSs so we have to hope Manderson can and will.  I also know there are excellent CS that are forced to carry the burden of those CS that refuse to perform properly or without being vindictive and ego driven.   Fortunately Mandersons shoulders are broad enough to ignore these comments on this blog and understand where these negative comments are coming from. I hope his family doesn't read this nonsense.  Mr Manderson, there are more in favor than against you. You have integrity and that's sorely lacking these days in Govt. 

  4. anonymous says:

    Nothing was done by anyone when it was occurring and nothing will be done now.

    Acquiescence and the fear of confrontation. That should be painted on the tail of all CAL aircraft.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is strange to read all these criticisms of Mr Manderson. If he was removed from office, he would just be replaced by another, probably even younger, Caymanian and things would be no better, probably worse. The talent pool of Caymanians able to perform at this level is very very shallow.

  6. Anonymous says:

    "DG watching travel costs." Perfect title, the operative word being 'watching'. Smh 

    • Joy says:

      only one problem with your comment 21:32 CNS created the title not Mr Manderson.zzzzzzzzz

  7. Anonymous says:

    Mr Manderson: Could you or your staff confirm or deny that there is a policy in place at Cayman Airways that all Board members (including civil servants and ex civil servants) have free travel for themselves and their families not only when they are on the Board but for the same number of years afterwards that they served on the Board, There is a notorious civil servant who made sure that they were on the Board for many many years ex officio and now it is being said that this person and this person's family is still getting free flights and will do for the next 10 years even though the civil servant has retired..It is schemes like this that even the Auditor General does not know about.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Franz just curious who was watching he tavel budget of Julie and mac not the same civll servants who will infoce your new policies.

    Aldon you promted Julie to speaker so you could be Premier and Mac to PAC now he is deputy chairman–where is c4c is being a counsller more important than your integerity

  9. Anonymous says:

    This headline scares me AND makes me laugh at the same time. Here is some more of my money. You gonna need it. 

  10. The Janitor says:

    Mr. Manderson we demand justice not more policies, we demand accountability not more taxes to pay for another department to watchdog politicians. Mr. Manderson we demand freedom from immigration oppression.

    We the people are caught in the middle of this political fiasco and are suffering. Cost of living has spiral out of control to the point i feel hopeless, broken and lost.

    Give us back some dignity so we can stand on our two feet, live in a country to be proud to callhome give us some sense that what our forefathers sacrificed for was not all in vain.

    Mr. Manderson, please give us hope!

     

    • Anonymous says:

      Enough with the small talk, just tell us exactly what youwant, friend.

  11. B. Hurlstone says:

    " Manderson said things had already changed."

    Have they?  In what way?  What action will be taken against thieves?

    .

    “The government will be vigilant in detecting any deficiencies and pursuing appropriate consequences for the same, the deputy governor warned"

    Appropiate consequencies?  When?  How about NOW?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Mr Manderson thank you for your hard work which has not gone unnoticed- you have introduced performance managment in the civil service for the first time and you recently stated that 96% perfect of the 3500 civil servants now have performance agreements.

    You have reduced the size of the civil servants and now we have an $107 million surplus. You have raised the profile of the civil service and we the customers are seeing improvements in customer service.

    Thank you for dealing with the abuse of travel costs over a year ago… some how this important fact has been missed by the posters.zzzzzzzzzz.

    we know that anyone who abuses the policy will be held accountable- that has been your record as an enforcment officer for 25 years.

    thank you.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Franz, it's no good shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

    This abuse was being reported in the media long before the Auditor General got involved but neither you nor your predecessor did a thing.

    How much have you spent on travel abroad? 

  14. Anonymous says:

    Franz, you are spineless. I like you as a person, but you do not even enforce the law on politicians. 'Watchdog' all you want, but we know you don't have in you to put your buddies in prison.

    • Joy says:

      ok never heard Franz being called 'spineless" before- are we taking about the seem person that hunted down, arrested and deported hundres of persons while at immigration. Is this the same person that improved the performance of the immigration department and fired employees?? Guess not?

      You are really confused 9:24 Mr Manderson cannot hold politicians accountable- that is the responsibity of the Premier… and he has does that. 

      Lets wait and see what the audit reveals- Mr Manderson demonstarted his backbone a year ago when he introduced the Travel Policy which eliminated business class travel and the policy has saved this country big bucks!!

      If these are the actions of a spineless leader- then i wish we had more!!

      • Anonymous says:

        Please lt him hunt down and arrest the bigger criminals. His own people!! Then he can be said to have a spine. 

      • Anonymous says:

        What crock of rubbish 11:53! Your attempt at coming to Franz defense is amusing. Improved performance of the immigration department? Really? When did that happen under his management? As for firing  of the employees that is a bigger laugh! Departure of bad apples there only happened after his departure, so drop the fluff. 

      • Anonymous says:

        They still travel business class.  Seen it myself.

    • Anonymous says:

      Franz has been a complete waste of space and a vacuous apologist for the worst excesses of the civil service and politicians.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a Civil Servant I would have to agree with the first sentence, all talk no action.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I don't think Franz gets it.  When people demand action, they are talking about holding someone to account, not implementing a new policy.  Policies will be broken no matter what policies are in place.  You do not need a policy that public funds should be safeguarded, well spent and accurately recorded.  Any CO, CFO or accountant that does not understand that should be fired immediately.

    If you do not hold people accountable, you are enabling mediocrity.  Accountability is an empty soundbite without action to back it up.  No Franz, it is not "a process", it is a culture.  Something you either have or you don't have.  

  16. Anonymous says:

    So how about posting this data on the government web site? And not just 5 months after the fact. How about we have three pages.

    1. Historic travel (By whom/For what.)

    2. Proposed travel

    3. Booked travel (i.e) pending.

    Mr. Manderson, words are cheap. f you need help with this, we can rustle up a web site in a heartbeat. In fact the government already pays a fortune for it's Oracle system which can do this out of the box.

    • Anonymous says:

      As a civil servant that frequently travels for work I think it is a good idea. I have nothing to hide, in fact all you usually see is my hotel and my per idem like it should be.