Auditor recruitment underway but OCC and ICO await fate

| 05/10/2015 | 6 Comments
Cayman News Service

Auditor General Alastair Swarbrick

(CNS): The departure of Alastair Swarbrick is unlikely to see the auditor general’s seat vacant for very long, unlike the other independent watchdog posts. The former auditor general confirmed before his departure last week that the recruitment process for his job was already underway and the advertisements were expected to be posted this week. Meanwhile, the future of the information and complaints commissioners’ positions remains uncertain following revelations by the premier that government plans to merge those offices along with a police complaints commission under a new super-ombudsman.

But the planned merger has raised considerable concern. Both the former complaints and information commissioner warned government not to merge the posts as it could cause serious conflicts, constitutional issues and undermine the independence of the watchdogs.

Jan Liebers, who has been acting as information commissioner for two years, expressed his frustration last week as his office marked Right to Know Week. He said that not only has the vacant post impacted the workload for the office and hindered the team’s ability to undertake some of the proactive work to address the problems regarding freedom of information, but the failure to recruit a new commissioner and threats to merge the officer are sending the wrong message.

The acting information commissioner said he is still greatly puzzled by the government’s decision to press ahead with the merger, which was first mentioned in the Project Future report by auditors Ernst and Young and its recommendations for rationalizing the civil service.

“This recommendation was not only at the very bottom of the list of ideas raised in the EY review for public sector rationalization, there was very little detail given about the proposal, which appeared on page 232 of the 245 page report as number 40 in a summary list of other recommendations,” he said.

However the proposal seems to be one of only a handful that government is pressing ahead with from the EY report, which was completed over one year ago. It was described by EY as one of the “lower priority recommendations”, where the auditors suggested there was scope for an ombudsman after recommending the merging of support staff after the offices moved into the same office space.

Speaking at the Chamber’s legislative lunch on Wednesday, the premier once again stated that there were plans to create this new post and merge the offices, even though the cost savings have not been outlined.

Alden McLaughlin said that the review of the EY recommendations was “just about complete”, and while a number of recommendations were not compatible with government policy, some would be taken forward.

“In a few cases, we have made a start on some of the more straightforward suggestions,” he said. “We have made good progress on the development of both the single utilities’ commission and a new Office of the Ombudsman,” he told the crowd at the Chamber Legislative Luncheon, who were waiting to hear what government was doing to cut the costs of the public sector via privatization and sales of assets.

Government has given no indication so far of any plans to privatize any service, though McLaughlin said that a few weeks ago Cabinet had agreed to take to market the first area of land identified as surplus.

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Category: Government oversight, Politics

Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is the best that they could do? Where is the succession planning, the seamless handover erc?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ken Jefferson is an auditor and is doing nothing that anyone is able to identify as Financial Secretary so give the Auditor General post to him. That would be the seamless handover (to a Caymanian) you want 10:58.

      • Anonymous says:

        And you think the nice Ken Jefferson will stand up to Mac and other bullies to come…I don’t think so.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hope Martin Ruben will seriously be considered!

  3. Anonymous says:

    A year later and the government is still reviewing a report?!?!? You can’t make this shit up.

    Dear Mr. Premier,

    I can think of no better quote that that of Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell in relation to the port project,

    “There is no point in commissioning experts with years of experience in their respective fields to provide us with scientifically based analyses and recommendations only to subjectively reject what they are saying…”

    Government LOVES to commission experts, reports and consultants at a great cost, and yet do absolutely NOTHING with the information they have spent our money on.

    This gowernment is just as useless as the last gowernment.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hope the report does not recommend the post be given to a former honwobble minister of ” finance” from West Bay.

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