DG warns MLAs off CS staff issues

| 23/03/2017 | 31 Comments
Cayman News Service

Deputy Governor Franz Manderson in the LA, 29 April 2016

(CNS): Deputy Governor Franz Manderson maintained in the Legislative Assembly Monday that politicians should not be asking him about individual civil servants. During a question session on the scandal at the prison that saw the deputy director wrongfully dismissed, Manderson accused Arden McLean (East End) of “going down a path” where individual personnel matters rather than just policy were being aired in the parliament, contravening what he believed was the constitutional position. Manderson agreed that it was fine for him to talk about and answer questions on policy but not individuals.

The deputy governor was clearly frustrated with the line of questioning, as McLean posed several cryptic questions about interventions regarding Natalie Aduke Caesar as well as more direct queries about the cost of the wrongful dismissal to the public purse, whether any sanctions were being imposed on the chief officer who wrongfully sacked her, and if she was still the subject of possible disciplinary action, even though she had been reinstated and received a commitment that the matter was over.

Manderson admitted that government spent some $39,000 on legal fees as a result of the fall-out from her being fired in connection with a still mysterious scandal about a covert video operation. He said that she had started back in her job last month and that her back pay and benefits had been reinstated for the period she was out of post. He said the only other intervention since she came back to work were meetings to help her transition back in to the senior position after being away from the jail for more than a year, and it had been successful.

But he expressed concerns about specific questions on individual public workers.

“I have said it in the past and I will say it again, I feel very strongly that we are going down a path where we are bringing civil service matters into this House where they really do not belong. I am happy to come here and answer questions about policy but I do not like answering questions about individual civil servants,” Manderson said, adding that it does not help the employees “one bit”.

Confused by McLean’s persistent supplementary question about what “interventions” had been made since the deputy director returned to work, Manderson said, “I really do not know what the member is getting at. I have been open and candid and honest in every way that I possibly can be. It was a disciplinary matter that took place and the necessary procedures followed, and she is now back at work and we would really like all of this to be put behind us so we can move forward.”

Following the DG’s warnings about the interference of politicians into civil servants, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said he wanted some clarity on what questions the deputy governor thinks they can ask. But Speaker Julianna O’Connor-Connolly intervened, noting that MLAs can ask any questions relevant to them but government members can decline to answer if they can show it’s against the public interest. She said she was concerned that anyone was telling the Legislative Assembly what can and cannot be raised.

The speaker said she was not going to issue any directive to the deputy governor in an open forum but she said that in the precinct of parliament the ability to ask questions was very wide and the chair would not endorse any “handcuffs” on the right to ask questions. Manderson said he was happy to discuss the matter but he believed that the constitution was clear about what he could and could not talk about when it came to personnel issues.

McLean persisted and said that the DG had a constitutional responsibility to answer questions, and that included about civil servants.

But the deputy governor was insistent that the civil service had to remain neutral and that there was a process for MLAs to follow if they are aggrieved for any reason. He said the parliament was not part of the appellant process for public servants.

“We do not want a politicized civil service,” he said, where civil servants went to individual members of parliament to address their issues. He said that asking about who was hired and fired and why in the LA was outside the constitution. Questions such as those about the numbers of civil servants on required leave were fair, he agreed, stating politicians could hold him accountable for that. But he said individual civil service matters were not appropriate.

However, McLean argued that when such issues, as in this case, become a public matter, the deputy governor cannot avoid answering and not tell MLAs what they can and cannot ask when it is in the public interest.

See full exchange below on the CIGTV video:

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Category: Politics

Comments (31)

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  1. CGS says:

    When the actions of individual civil servants cost the Government hundreds of thousands of dollar unnecessarily, politicians have every right to question the DG about this.
    The public want to hold politicians accountable when they think they have wasted taxpayers money with their policies and agendas so why would the DG feel he is above reproach to be questioned if a politician feels that taxpayers money is being wasted as a result of some incompetent civil servant?
    Mr. Manderson was the same person who said “Not on my watch” relating to civil servants being put on leave for years and collecting a salary ,yet I believe this is one of the biggest batch of civil servants that has ever been on leave while still collecting a salary.” He may be the DG but who is he accountable to? Who is allowed to question him?
    Unfortunately, a lot more expense is coming to the Government as a result of the actions of incompetent civil servants or some who just thought they could do whatever they felt like and there would be no consequences.
    Congrats to the Speaker for actually speaking up and stating her concern about the Legislative Assembly being told what they can and cannot ask.
    Whenever it is a negative image on the civil service, will the DG just decide it is against public interest and decline to answer? He needs to be very careful about perception. The public will begin to think that the DG is covering up something.
    We as taxpayers have a right to know how public funds are spent, this includes when payouts are made as a result of incompetent civil servants actions.


  2. Jordan says:

    2:06. DP is Deputy Premier


  3. Uncivil Servant says:

    Are they at least allowed to participate in the worlds greatest 5K?


    • anonymous says:

      I agree with the Deputy Governor — one of the problems the Civil Service has been plagued with for years is civil servants running to politicians with their side of the story — and I do not believe that the LA is the place to raise personnel problems

      If any politician has a concern I am sure they know where the DG’s office is located and I am sure that they would receive a welcome audience. Not that they could or should influence the result, but I am sure the DG would not have a problem with setting the record straight — especially when it is already public matter and as long as he is not divulging confidential personnel information.

      In raising the matter in the LA, the politicians are simply grandstanding. I don’t know all the rules of the LA, but I can’t agree with the Speaker that delving into a civil servant personnel issue in the LA is entirely open field for discussion — there must be some restrictions and constraints in the interest of propriety.

      Beyond that concern, one of the dangers of this avenue of resolution of personnel matters is that it further erodes the empowerment of civil service managers.

      As a former civil service manager, I know well how difficult it is to discipline staff because of this very Damocles sword hanging over their heads — civil servants notoriously sidestep the proper procedure in appealing decisions of heads of department — even the Chief Officers lend an audience without the head of department being there.

      We have an undisciplined civil service whose members are used to swanning through their workplace responsibilities and whose unprofessional behavior does not preclude their telling lies — or at least half-truths — to make themselves look good.


  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s obvious that the negative bloggers just doesn’t get the point the Deputy Governor was making.

    Stand your ground Mr Manderson Caymanians are behind you 100% .


  5. Anonymous says:

    The politicians are rightly trying to ascertain the status of CS cases as they may have to work with these people in the future, as well as obtain their vote. If the Deputy Governor will not deal with issues, then he leaves himself open to civil servants exercising alternative options. Civil servants are voters as well are’nt they but it seems like the Deputy Governor himself is quite the politician so whats the difference.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Can Someone say why was’nt the DG also questioned in the LA about the US$1.8 million dollars of public money given to Canova Watson which the public never received any benefits for?


  7. Anonymous says:

    The video is a real eye opener. I have seen no clearer reflection of the failings of the civil service and its lack of accountability.


  8. Sun Lover says:

    2.12 raised the retirement age for who? My company said they are not following any law. So who is benifiting CS who has a job for life?


    • Anonymous says:

      2:12. Leave the private sector and join an employer who cares about their employees and a leader who will stand up to political interference. The Civil Service rocks!

      Imagine a civil service where politicians dictate who gets hired fired and promoted. Oh that was the Civil Service a few years ago. That was the Civil Service that we critized for not standing up to politicians. Thankfully those days are over.


  9. Anonymous says:

    good luck trying to keep that group focused Franz


  10. Anonymous says:

    Whilst I can’t speak in regards to this incidence, it seems like the classic knee jerk reactions the public is getting once any civil servant is asked to explain themselves or if the smell of “taking responsibility” fills the air.

    On another note, what I would like to see is that every Civil Servant has to declare his or her interest/ownership in a business just as many employees of banks and financial institutions have to do it. If employees in the private sector have to heed to “conflict of interest” policies, so must be civil servants and elected officials.

    Drain the swamp!!!


    • Anonymous says:

      Sigh, this happens already. But you’re too much of a bloviating blowhard to know that. And good luck seeing the conflict of interest declarations for your bank’s staff.


  11. Anonymous says:

    I got overly excited for a minute when I saw ‘CS’ and thought he was referring to Customer Service issues within government, not Civil Service. Wishful thinking.


  12. Anonymous says:

    So who do we hold accountable for wasting Govt. / the public’s $$?
    What is the penalty for the wastage?
    Two biggest things missing in the Civil Service, Ownership and Accountability.


  13. UnCivil Servant says:

    Franz Manderson as Deputy Governor does not hold his senior staff accountable particularly Chief Officers and CFO’s so does not want anybody else especially elected officials to hold them accountable. The DG does not want any one to hold staff accountable for performance management issues, general incompetence, multiple expensive mistakes made annually and lack of professionalism.

    DG Manderson is the most powerful ‘politician’ in the Cayman Islands.

    He protects them at all costs as the culture that he has benefitted from and continues to encourage is about circling the wagons and protecting his hand picked management team. How many of them would have senior management positions based on performance, track record and qualifications in the private sector? The root problem in the service is the way different rules apply to different people and who likes who. DG Manderson is the biggest culprit of this behavior and never finds any issues with his direct reports in the face of clear evidence. The modus operandi is all about cover ups and shallow internal audit reports to justify very poor decisions and bahaviour of his puppets.


  14. Anonymous says:

    When there are wrongful dismissals and the public purse is made to pay compensation, these would normally be extraordinary situations where the public would have a right to understand the causes and see what policies are being changed to avoid replication of the problem. Unfortunately in the Cayman Islands we have a disproportionate number of unexplained dismissals, and paid suspensions lasting many years, which makes one wonder if any lesson is ever being learned or any policy changed. It’s of little comfort that the DP announces he is “happy to come here” (to the LA), like he’s doing everyone a great favour, when attendance is part of his job requirement. Where are the adults?


  15. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Deputy Governor for standing strong. For years MLA’S have been trying to get their cronies hired and promoted and have succeeded on occasions. Not to mention the sending home of senior civil servants. Which costs this country a lot of money.

    DG you promised these things would not happen under your watch and you have kept your word.


  16. Anonymous says:

    Franz Manderson should be delivering the positive changes in the Civil Service which he promised two years ago, but which still aren’t evident. Had he done his job and required others in the CS to do theirs, or make them accountable when they don’t, perhaps the elected representatives would have nothing to query.

    There is no question that there is and has been something seriously wrong in the administration of the Prison Service for many years. That is only one department of the CS with issues; the public could apprise him on issues in almost every other department. Of course he knows this but either doesn’t know how or doesn’t want to correct same.

    Hope he recalls his words of praise and confidence in the present Prison Director’s work. He has know taken ownership of this confidence. Meaning he will be culpable if something untoward surfaces.

    Remember, Franz Manderson was head of Immigration Department while much of the same behaviour there, which is now being exposed, was ongoing.

    The main problems throughout the entire public service center at the leadership levels.


    • Anonymous says:

      I see Franz haters are out in full force. These are obviously people that he held accountable. I have been a civil servant for 20 years and I can tell you this is best the Civil Service has been operated during my tenure.

      In respect of immigration the staff and public has been begging him to return. No one can take his place and the chief on suspension was a total failure.

      I see Civil servants being fired and staff being held accountable. Just because the DG doesn’t brag it. Doesn’t mean it’s not happening.


      • anonymous. says:

        No one is . No one !


      • Anonymous says:

        In the Brac no one are held accountable, especially those at the top levels


        • Anonymous says:

          That is not true – everyone knows that you can go to Moses Trump and he will sort things out. All of us bypass using his Chief Officer from the Brac, as the leader of the Cayman Brac Mafia has proven capable of handling all matters affecting District Administration. Glad to see you regularly back on the island Mose, kind of missed you these past four years.

          Love and Peace to All.


    • Anonymous says:

      8:31 do you mean you have not seen the positive change . Let me help you.

      Credit card policy … published credit card statements ten of thousands saved

      Travel policy. Millions saved

      100% compliance with performance management.

      Improved communication across the civil service.

      Successive years of $100m surpluses

      Wellness programme developing a healthy Civil Service.

      Dg5k raised over 100k for charity

      Raised the retirement age saved millions

      These are only a few of his accomplishments and yes I am proud Civil Servant.


      • Anonymous says:

        You forgot to mention about CS staying at home for years and still being paid for nothing. The DG should be answering this question and should be showing some accountability. After all it is the public purse and the public at the very least deserves answers.


        • Anonymous says:

          2:31. I think you were asleep when you posted your comment. I watched the video and the DG answered every question asked.

          In fact he welcomed questions about the number of persons on required leave.

          Poor you 2:31. You obviously need sleep.


    • Anonymous says:

      Best comment @ 8:31am

      Thank you.



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