Ex-minister accused of meddling in procurement

| 07/07/2015 | 86 Comments
Cayman News Service

Rolston Anglin, former minister of education in the UDP administration

(CNS): The former education minister, Rolston Anglin, has been accused of interference in the procurement processes and management of both the secondary and primary school projects during the UDP administration. In yet another damning report about government procurement and the problems of political interference and mismanagement by officials, Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick has pointed to a loss of some $25 million to the public purse, a lack of transparency and a catalogue of other problems that have plagued public projects.

Criticizing procurement practices and the lack of transparency and raising concerns about government officials stonewalling his office in the process of the audit, Swarbrick warned that once again taxpayers’ money had been wasted due to a lack of proper management and inappropriate interference. Swarbrick said that government needed to have a serious conversation about political interference and, before it pressed ahead with any further development of the secondary schools, to take on board his recommendations.

Although the government has begun the process of creating a central procurement office and is now following processes for the justification of major capital projects, the auditor general found that most of his earlier recommendations regarding major public projects had not yet been implemented.

“It is clear that government needs to do a lot more to ensure that it has the appropriate skills, expertise and systems in place so that it can manage its major capital projects effectively, economically and efficiently to deliver the infrastructure that is required,” he said

The auditor general found that the primary as well as the already beleaguered secondary school projects overseen by the Ministry of Education were badly managed because the ministry did not have the people, systems and practices in place to carry out this kind of work.

“Government has spent far more than it should have and got far less than it wanted than when it originally decided to build the new high schools and additional classrooms at the primary schools,” Swarbrick stated.

Cayman News Service

Sir John A. Cumber Primary School, Opening Ceremony of extension March 2013

“The former minister of education from 2009 to 2013 was very involved in the management of the projects, including inappropriate direction around procurement. We found this involvement to be outside the laws in place for the management of public funds and obscured accountability for the cost overruns conservatively estimated to be greater than $25 million on the projects we reviewed,” Swarbrick added.

Poor record and stonewalling from ministry officials also made the audit challenging and no credible documentation was presented to support various decisions made during the course of the projects.

“The audit was delayed significantly by a lack of cooperation during the course of audit,” Swarbrick stated, noting that the audit began in January 2014. “This increased the time it took to carry out the work and complete the report as well as significantly increasing the cost of the audit.”

Among the many issues that are detailed in the report, Swarbrick raised his concerns that the Legislative Assembly is still not receiving adequate information for appropriations and supplementary appropriations on major capital projects.

He said the education ministry failed to establish frameworks to ensure it managed the school projects efficiently and effectively to achieve value for money delivering “less than it promised at a far higher cost than planned”, and delivered late.

CNS has contacted the former education minister and is awaiting a response.

The education ministry released a long statement (see below) following Swarbrick’s press briefing Tuesday stating that it had accepted some recommendations but it did not agree with all of his findings.

Agreeing with the need for an assessment of the John Gray High School project site and a strategy to manage its risks, the ministry said it supported all efforts to improve transparency and accountability.

“The Ministry of Education will be following the same approach being utilized by other ministries in carrying out major capital works, including the formation of a project steering committee, development of substantiated business cases and in securing project management services from the government’s centrally operated Project Management Office, under the Public Works Department (PWD PMO),” unnamed officials said in the release.

But despite accepting the main recommendations, the ministry said it would be explaining its role and answering the criticisms when the report goes before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for review. The officials made no comment on the criticism by Swarbrick of stonewalling and the reluctance to hand over the necessary information to allow the Office of the Auditor General to do its work.

The unnamed officials who released the statement said the high school project was delivered in a “very challenging context”, including what it described as “the very difficult contractual situation between government and Tom Jones International (TJI)”, which the ministry said “cannot be understated”.

The ministry added that it inherited complexities and had to apply a significant amount of time to address the problems while simultaneously continuing to address its core responsibilities, all while being under-resourced.

“It would be fair to say that even the legal and other consultants involved (who possessed the required qualifications) were challenged by the complexity of the project and its related issues,” the statement read.

The ministry further justified the primary school projects, stating there was a pressing need for additional space at several schools because of rising student numbers and the use of modular classrooms raising health concerns.

“This entire project added 56,128 sq. ft. of learning and administrative space for our schools and cost a total of CI$13.4 million … The intrinsic and perhaps financially unquantifiable value brought to the teachers, students and parents of the education system by the Primary Schools Project cannot be minimised,” officials stated after Swarbrick found the ministry could have wasted more than $25 million.

OAG report – MCP Building Schools, May 2015

Ministry of Education response to OAG report MCP – Building Schools, July 2015

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Category: development, Education, Government oversight, Local News, Politics

Comments (86)

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  1. Cayman Pickney says:

    Corruption is rife in Cayman because the UK allows it and is frequently complicit while playing the hypocritical role of referee and judge!

    • Anonymous says:

      Blaming the UK for locally bred corruption ….seriously…?…and if the UK dares to step in there will be more bleating about ” colonial interference”.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Funny how he is now to blame for a project that was already in shambles when it was handed to him…

    • Anonymous says:

      That would not be funny a all if it were true but the headline clearly states that Anglin is in fact being accused of meddling in procurement…Nothing whatsoever to do with whatever he may have inherited from the previous government. Please let’s not have the wool pulled over our eyes by the udp at the PPM’s expense yet one more time.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have no personal agenda against the former Minister. As stated further down this page , my memory of the Clifton Hunter project is that there was a circa $50 million dollar fixed price contract for the school. McKeeva took office and, publically declared that the Government was bankrupt, presumably to discredit and embarrass the previous PPM administration.

      Hearing this, the contractor demanded a bond, to ensure they would be paid for completed work (as was allowed for in the contract). McKeeva refused and the contractor walked off the job.

      The UDP Govt. after letting things lie fallow for a long time, allowing equipment to deteriorate, then took several years to finish the project piecemeal, using local contractors, without proper oversight. The final cost was more than double that of the original fixed price contract. It is telling that the Government ended up settling a law suit brought by the original contractor, paying them damages, not the other way round as they had touted.

      Please correct me (with facts, not political bullshit) if my account is faulty, but that is my memory of the events as reported at the time in the press. If this is even close to the truth, then it is disingenuous (at best) of UDP proponents to continue to blame the previous PPM administration for the final cost overrun on this project.

      A cynic might add that, while declaring that the PPM had left them broke, the UDP Government were not too broke to forgo jet-setting around the world first class, go gambling in Las Vegas using Govt. credit cards, to pave private driveways (along with virtually all public roads) on the Brac, pay for endless nights of hotel accommodation for Julianna (and her umm, driver) to stay within minutes of their primary residence, to fly a huge entourage to launch a predictably now defunct Cayman Airways route to Panama, to give away millions of dollars in a thinly disguised vote buying scheme called the “Nation Building Fund”, to hire Rangers for a legally non-existent Barkers Park, without proper recruiting procedures, etc. etc. etc. All told, I think the last UDP Government have a lot of explaining (or plea-bargaining) to do.

      Truthseeker

  3. Anonymous says:

    Rolston Anglin didn’t do anything different from his predecessor Premier Alden McLaughlin, the architect of the public schools construction mismanagement and expensive mess! Political interference and Ministry incompetence continues to cost the Cayman Islands millions every year. Until there is real accountability for politicians and senior officials nothing will change.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Is this the same guy that was caught driving under the influence while fishing for bonitas in a restricted zone?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Awww give the guy a break folks. He was jes following his leader.

  6. Anonymous says:

    And the poop keeps piling higher, and higher, and higher, and higher…
    Does any Good news ever come out of your country? And I don’t mean the weather. God give the weather, but you people…. Whoa. Come on now, a little soul searching please.

  7. Anonymous says:

    As the discussion centers around the Ministry of Education and the incompetence within, let’s us not fail to include the Pensions and Labour Department as this office falls under the said Ministry as well. How is it possible to have 2 or 3 major (for unpaid overtime) cases dismissed because of being out of time…this is TOTAL incompetence on the part of the officer or officers who conducted these investigations. But instead of being reprimanded they will probably be the next employee of the month or have received a promotion. Positive reward for piss poor work. I am not a big fan of Mario, though he is a very upright and respected gentleman, but I can only respect him for taking the stance he did. To poster 10:14, I agree with you 100%. And by the way, don’t try to call DLP with the hopes of speaking to anyone, cause your out of luck. One would be able to call the Kremlin and reach Putin first.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Me smell a small revolution coming. Corruption coming to the fore. As it should. So either the voters will hold the politicos responsible or will ask the UK to do it for them.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Lying cheating stealing, just another day in paradise.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The final paragraph sums up the extent of the problems “The recommendations made in my July 2012 report on major capital projects need to be implemented as soon as possible to mitigate the waste of public resources in the future.”

  11. Anonymous says:

    The report is extremely damning. It is very much worth a read as it goes to the heart of why corruption IS rife in Cayman.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The new road going east is already a mess people falling over each other for their share of the pie what do you think the fighting is about.
    Free millions to be handed out

  13. Anonymous says:

    We, the voting public, need to openly question why this regime refuses to reinstate a functional Office of Complaints Commissioner or Anti-Corruption Task Force, for this is why there are no penalties for obstruction or outright refusals of FOIs. Clearly this is a deliberate measure to derail legitimate attempts for transparency to preserve the corrupt status quo and conceal all belligerent and/or conflicted actors.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Another day, another corruption story.
    It’s clear that Cayman just doesn’t understand exactly what corruption is when it hits them in the face. Legge may be a XXXXXX, but his assertions can no longer be dismissed as mere anti Caymanian propaganda.

    • Anonymous says:

      An individual politician interfering in procurement processes does not of course by any means prove that Cayman is culturally steeped in corruption so that we cannot recognise it or that all Caymanians are corrupt. Not that it excuses this, but individual politicians are involved in this sort of low level corruption in every part of the world. It is not a “Cayman thing” as you would like to believe.

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe not, but I have yet to find any other country that has misplaced 1 billion dollars, given 56 million out in poor relief to 7,900 poor people and a handful of veterans or where the politicians start drawing their pension from day one!
        perception is an uncanny thing.

        • Anonymous says:

          ….and how many of the ” poor people” were imported voters in Mac’s status handouts..?

    • KT says:

      His comments were still far too widespread. No one says it is not present. What was being said is that he has taken a problem and made it larger than it really is. Our problem is the old guard politicians. We simply need to clean house. Legge is an idiot and anti-Caymanian. He could have written that article differently and made a far more accurate account of what is really happening.

      I am also not saying the problem is not a bad one either. It needs to be dealt with but not in this manner.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rubbish. We understand corruption. That is why we kicked out the UDP. They also understood it, but apparently for the wrong reasons.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes he is an XXXXXX.

      • Anonymous says:

        Were it not for xxxxxxx who would dare raise the subject.? Outrage was heaped on Legge because he is not liked, not because he didn’t speak the truth.

        • Anonymous says:

          He was not liked because he did not speak the truth. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind being called one but I am one Caymanian that takes exception to being generalized as a criminal and I seriously cannot blame Alden McLaughlin for being offended by it. At least unless XXXXXXX Legget can prove that we are such. I’ve worked very hard all my life for every penny I’ve ever owned in this world.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you understand exactly what corruption is where you come from?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Could we have some specifics Please? What contracts did he interfere with and with whom?

  16. Anonymous says:

    There is no corruption in the Cayman Islands, move on.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Wow nice disappearing act. No one reading the report would know that the Premier was the minister in charge when the high schools project started and that it was running for a year before Rolstn. No one would know Rolston inherited a mess that was hard to recover from. Like the threats to stop work that the public never heard about. Like the contractor claiming he was owed 17 million dollars over and above his contract one year in. Liketheccontractor not delivering the John Gray gymn which was supposed to be donen that first year. Like the project manager that was supposedly a civil servant but checked in once and a while from somewhere nd got paid over 750 k ifor a year and a bit then disappeared and left a facilities manager in charge. What do you think happened? Like the 5 million spent on a third high school be they dropped it.

    The super expensive design, appointing a contractor that was a new company with little expirience. Ask people like Mr Heber Arch about low bids by the contractor. How do you make it up? By change orders. Askthe construction managers about the7 millions spent to fix th mistakes by the contractor before they could start the project again. Rolsyon had to take that on too

    And lets talk education. Ask the teachers and students about how the open plan design is working for them? Remember the plan to teach art and science together in one huge open space with no walls? Called it the Davinci studio because Davinci was a scientist and an artist! Ralston changed that nonsense but he couldnt fix all the rooms with so few walls and doors.

    If Rolston made mistakes hold him accountable. But don’t forget to tell the full story on what he had to deal with and what came before. When you don’t tell the full story AG you mislead peopl.

    • Bigsoup says:

      Great post. I truly wish my fellow Caymanian would hold our politicians accountable for their ineptness. People will we continue to fail it will be our children, grand children and great grandchildren inheriting the mess. Time is nigh

    • The AG is talking about the procurement process, not the dumb design by Anglin’s predecessors. Ergo, the AG is telling the full story about the piece of the story he’s paid to talk about. It’s not for him to say “Open plan? SERIOUSLY??!!”.

    • Anonymous says:

      Um…clearly the Auditor General is saying the problem of mismanagement actually began with Rolston/UDP. The UDP blamed Alden and PPM for mismanagement during that campaign but they proceeded to mismanage and interfere causing terrible overruns wasting public funds. Lesson: Don’t trust anything out of a UDP mouth.

      • Anonymous says:

        I disagree 5:00pm, you can trust that the UDP will spew total and utter BS every time they open their mouths.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Lack of co-operation with an investigation = corruption. More evidence Legge was right.

  19. A.J. says:

    Pop a top again.

  20. NoMo ADHD says:

    Not that I’m a fan of his but from what I recall, McVegas delivered Prospect Primary at a cost of less than $13 million back in 2004. The school was built exceptionally well at a reasonable price. If one recalls, it survived Ivan with superficial damage – in fact, almost none at all. The biggest damage sustained was to the artificial soccer turf. About the best thing that McVegas ever did for this country.

    • Alan says:

      We all new that this project was badly handled by the ministry who should have hired in expertise to get the project done right. Of course if they had done that they would have been criticised for spending too much on consultants. The AG has acknowledged that CIG is doing these major procurements much different now. Mistakes made changes implemented. CIG is doing everything different these days. Look at the progress on the airport Port and landfill. All done with skilled project mangers with an open process. Thank you CIG for all the positive changes made.

      • Alan Roffey says:

        The Alan comment above is not from Alan Roffey, former CEO of “the legacy MEP contractor”. I have to say “Hat’s Off!” to the replacement MEP contractor for turning a bid of 2.4M into a 11.3M final account. Wow – that’s impressive!

        • Anonymous says:

          He found out that the mess you left was that big.

          • Alan Roffey says:

            That is what the project manager tried to allege against my company for about a two years, whilst with ever increasing desperation he tried to justify his poor decision to terminate our services rather than pay a fair price for the damage and disruption caused to us by his flawed recommendation to terminate TJI. However, at paragraph 89 the AG’s Report says as follows:-

            “We noted that existing works were removed throughout 2010 and 2011 in order to incorporate the significant ongoing design changes. The costs of these removals were often discussed by the Ministry and the project manager as necessary to remediate deficiencies in the work done by previous contractors. However, we found that a subsequent arbitration decision and numerous dispute settlements with contractors provided very little support for the notion that the removals were largely the result of faulty work. It is more likely that the majority of the remediation work undertaken at the site was caused by the steady stream of design changes introduced by the Ministry and the resulting construction problems that ensued.”

            The report is not at all complimentary of the project manager in several other places. You should read it. All of it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Almost five times the agreed bid, and almost two years behind schedule is not a slight misjudgement. If this was my money and my project, the contractor would be in court. How about yourself?

            Empty words UDP stooge!

            Truthseeker.

  21. Maiden Plum Leaf says:

    Add Rodrigues and Suckoo (not the MLA) to this foray. Total incompetence in this Ministry, has been, is now and will continue to be the same. One would think that a Ministry of this magnitude and critical importance would be led by an educator and not a economist, and this is not referring to the Minister. Why can’t we fit round pegs into round holes and stop trying to force square pegs into the round holes. This is now 3 ministers in succession who are clueless about education, and their CO’s have been and continue to be clueless. Blessings from almighty is what this country needs cause if not, we are headed for a serious collision into a mountain.

    • Educationalist says:

      But the economist is a born Caymanian so obviously capable of achieving anything, in any role at any time. Apparently that’s the only qualification you need for a top Ministry job these days …….

      • Anonymous says:

        You sound bitter. Got something against people having an advantage in their own countries?

    • The Sufi says:

      The Auditor General clearly stated that the Ex- Minister did the meddling he did not say anything about Mr. Suckoo. Christen is an educated, hardworking experienced honest employee and none of you could take on his job and do any better. And yes, he is a Caymanian and proud of it.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Apparently the drinking problem must have started much earlier than anyone thought….

  23. Lush Life says:

    Legge was right. We just can’t handle the truth.

    • Anonymous says:

      No he wasn’t, if you remember Legge said ‘everyone’ was corrupt, that includes you and me and plenty of other good folk.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Where are the arrests Alden? I want my 25 million back.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why are you calling on Alden? Is Alden the Commissioner of Police or the Chairman of the ACC? If he did lodge a complaint with the Commissioner you would hear it is a political witchhunt.

    • Anonymous says:

      Calm down. If we arrested politicians for unlawfully interfering with the civil service we would all have to look behind our backs and David Legge would be walking around with a smug look on his face. We cannot tolerate that! No Sah!

  25. Teachaaaaaaaaaaah says:

    Same song different singer.

    There is NO accountability within the civil service and ministry of education illustrated yet again another AG report. SMH

    • Anonymous says:

      The entire ministry, from the Chief officer right down needs to be held accountable. This bunch could never survive in the private sector……it’s time to roll the dice and rid ourselves of incompetence

  26. Anonymous says:

    treason by swarbrick!!

  27. Anonymous says:

    “The Cayman Islands are steeped in corruption.”

  28. The Thinker says:

    We seem to have too many leaders that are not very bright, or not very honest, or both! Even when they are involved in a possible crime they just keep on with their shoddy actions. No one seems to care. No one seems to be upset. What will it take to better guide Cayman’s future? The answer is, “Get better people in government.” It’s not going to be easy.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is the problem, getting good people to manage this country when the parties have both created blind followers who can’t see any form of corruption and the few objective, independent minded individuals are ostracised or not interested in the trouble of dismantling a clear system of nepotism, favouritism and ignorant party allegiance.

      The next issue will be joining the dots and listening to the the tricks in 2017 when people like Rolston will probably run for office.

      We need to determine if top jobs are being promised with the ‘team’ fronting him and others so that when elected they form the same UDP team from founding members to new power hungry Caymanians, and these stink practices will again continue.

  29. Anonymous says:

    The only reason for stonewalling an auditor is because you are hiding some wrongdoing.Cayman needs to stop political interference for tendering, it just reaks of corruption to the outside world.

  30. Rp says:

    Looks like Rolston may have to find God again for a third time in 2 years.

    If he does’t find Him first, I am not going to believe his response to the AG!

  31. Holy batspit! says:

    Just think what could be accomplished with the $25 million if we had semi-competent management of CIG funds…

  32. C'Mon Now! says:

    Unfortunately the OAG needs to state in its reports that the people of the Cayman Islands did not receive value for money in most CIG projects. We will never know if funds were misappropriated but certainly funds were wasted and misused. To hear that CIG staff do not cooperate with the OAG is especially concerning. It would be nice if the responsible people were held accountable for a change. Unfortunately passing the buck is Cayman’s national pastime and there is always someone else to blame.

  33. Anonymous says:

    No s**t!!!!! When is Swarbrick going to deliver a similar verdict on wasteful UK-led projects like Operation Tempura and the on-going Aina report FOI court action.

    • Anonymous says:

      What is your point exactly. Don’t worry about our corruption and wastefulness because others are corrupt and wasteful too. Is that your stance? Isn’t this just the “I know you are but what am I” line from when we were kids?

      • Anonymous says:

        The poster is making a valid point about double standards. You and other expats are quick to point out waste when it comes to Caymanians but not so quick when it involves an expat. Hypocrisy is not pretty.

    • Anonymous says:

      Typical defender of the useless response. Quick, look over there. Nothing wrong here. Oh, and just for your benefit it’s not the OAG’s job to do what you are referring to. It’s his job to audit the Cayman Government. Which by the way he is doing a first class job of. People like you just can’t handle the truth.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Wonder if the Auditor will start looking into the useless CCTV that government is paying millions of dollars to a certain security company!!!

  35. Anonymous says:

    We also need to ensure that there is no political interference regarding the airport project for sure and anything to do with the port authority.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Word on the street, true or not, was that the UDP set about making the Clifton Hunter High School as expensive as they possibly could so they could lay the blame at the feet of the previous government who started it.

    • Anonymous says:

      It was the PPM who chose the biggest and most expensive. Stop laying blame on others instead of acknowledging all the uselessness of the PPM. Talk about the lack of resolution on the dump and lack of employment for Caymanians instead!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        My memory of the Clifton Hunter project is that there was a circa $50 million dollar fixed price contract for the school. McKeeva took office and, publically declared that the Government was bankrupt, presumably to discredit and embarrass the previous PPM administration.

        Hearing this, the contractor demanded a bond, to ensure they would be paid for completed work (as was allowed for in the contract). McKeeva refused and the contractor walked off the job.

        The UDP Govt. after letting things lie fallow for a long time, allowing equipment to deteriorate, then took several years to finish the project piecemeal, using local contractors, without proper oversight. The final cost was more than double that of the original fixed price contract. It is telling that the Government ended up settling a law suit brought by the original contractor, paying them damages, not the other way round as they had touted.

        Please correct me (with facts, not political bullshit) if my account is faulty, but that is my memory of the events as reported at the time in the press. If this is even close to the truth, then it is disingenuous (at best) of UDP proponents to continue to blame the previous PPM administration for the final cost overrun on this project.

        A cynic might add that, while declaring that the PPM had left them broke, the UDP Government were not too broke to forgo jet-setting around the world first class, go gambling in Las Vegas using Govt. credit cards, to pave private driveways (along with virtually all public roads) on the Brac, pay for endless nights of hotel accommodation for Julianna (and her umm, driver) to stay within minutes of their primary residence, to fly a huge entourage to launch a predictably now defunct Cayman Airways route to Panama, to give away millions of dollars in a thinly disguised vote buying scheme called the “Nation Building Fund”, to hire Rangers for a legally non-existent Barkers Park, without proper recruiting procedures, etc. etc. etc. All told, I think the last UDP Government have a lot of explaining (or plea-bargaining) to do.

        Truthseeker

        • Anonymous says:

          I believe you missed out on the 15 representatives to a mobile phone conference in Barcelona and picking up the bronze award in Egypt for one of the worst postal services in the world. The UDP really did treat themselves and their goons to some great vacations at our expense. Didn’t they even go to Bora Bora on government business.

  37. Anonymous says:

    This island is plagued with greedy fat politicians and corruption.

    And no my last name is not Legge. I am a Caymanian who sees thru the BS.

  38. Knot S Smart says:

    Poor Rollie. All of this drove him to drinking and driving and drinking…
    Give him a break Naaa…

  39. Anonymous says:

    What will happen to him?

    • The Parliamentarian says:

      What will happen to him? Why, he will be backed by Mac for our next Premier and things will return to the old status quo!

  40. Anonymous says:

    No corruption in the Cayman Islands. Move along.

    • Anonymous says:

      Typical expat troll. No one ever said that there was no corruption in Cayman so cut the cr@p.

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