Consultants and education in OAG sights

| 08/01/2018 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Auditor General Sue Winspear has revealed that the use of consultant services by government will be one of the first performance audits to be published this year and that her office will also be taking a look at education spending with a view to producing a report before the end of 2018. Speaking to CNS about the massive improvements in public finance reporting, the independent government auditor also stated that there were still weakness around the management of public cash that needed work and specific areas that she wanted to look at to help drive the continued improvement.

Over the next few months government authorities will be working to get their completed and auditable accounts to the auditor general for the end of the 2016/17 eighteen-month financial period, which began last June and paved the way for the new multi-year budgeting process. While government bean counters will be focused on the job at hand to get the government’s first ever clean bill of health in public accounting, the auditor general also has plans to undertake performance audits that she hopes will help focus attention on some of the reaming problem areas.

The work that her office has undertaken on the issue of consultants is expected to be published next month, and although Winspear was reluctant to talk about the details of the report, which is not yet completed, she indicated that the office will be making several recommendations to the government as a result of what her team found during the audit work, which she said was evidence based.

On the heels of that, Winspear said her office will be completing a wider audit of the entire core government workforce, examining how public money is spent on all personnel and asking if the public is getting value for money over the way government workers are deployed and managed.

She also revealed plans to “take a deeper dive” into the Customs Department.

The office published an updated report in the summer following up on the recommendations that had been made by the OAG and the Public Accounts Committee on various historical audits. Looking back at the 2015 report on government revenue collection, the auditors found very little progress had been made on the systems related to earnings. As a result, Winspear said that the office would focus on customs first as it is one of government’s largest revenue generating agencies.

The auditor general is also very keen to begin an audit on education spending. Diverting from the audits that have historically examined the management of costly education infrastructure projects, Winspear said she wanted to examine the operational spending, where cash is going, how it’s being managed, and gather relevant information for government and the public to interpret about the investment in education and the outcomes. The senior auditor said that she was “passionate” about taking on this challenge due to is wider importance and the need for solid data.

Winspear said that government has improved significantly when it comes to managing the accounts but she warned that there are still areas of weakness that need to be addressed and the public sector  leadership needed to maintain the momentum. Given the many historic problems, she said it was difficult for government to tackle all the major problems that it has faced. Commending the leadership of the deputy governor and the accountant general in particular, she said the finance function across government was going in the right direction but there was still a mixed level of competencies among public sector accountants.

She also raised concerns about transparency and the need to ensure the people understand how public money is being spent and what is being achieved as a result.

Check back to CNS throughout this week for more from the auditor general on this issue.

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Category: Government Finance, Government oversight, Politics

Comments (24)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    She should dig out Nigel Esdaile’s auditor general’s report on consultants done in the 1990s. Nigel found overuse of consultants doing jobs that senior civil servants should be doing but conceded (privately, of course) that it was because the very senior civil servants at that time simply did not have the education, experience and skills required to do that work as they had been appointed mostly on the basis of where they were born and the number of years they had been in the civil service (seniority). Interesting to see what Ms Winspear finds.

  2. Anonymous says:

    AGs are like Drfemde Against Dark Arts teachers in Harry Potter. They come, do their best, move on and absolutely nothing will change. The corrupt status quo suits the political elite and the capital owning local families.

  3. Big Fan of Sue Winspear... says:

    Sue Winspear is a great Auditor General who wants the best for the Cayman Islands…

    She’s very approachable, often answers the phone herself and always return calls, which is unheard of among civil servants…

    Whenever you come across instances of malfeasance, injustice, pricing unfairness, poorly thought out policies in your dealings with CI Government, I suggest you report them to the Auditor General…

    She strikes fear in the heart of sloppy and careless department heads when audit time comes around every year…

    She’s independent, fearless and her skills are badly needed in Cayman…

    • Well said big fan. I am very impressed with the AG who has followed many other excellent AGs some admittedly more vocal than others. Having know four of them, none would have taken any prisoners. Cayman has been very lucky with its AGs over the years. Most importantly government accounts are being prepared on a more timely basis. This enables the AG to concentrate on areas where Government is particularly weak. Not wishing to tell her , her job, the lack of stamp duty on leases stands out and a look at customs duty would not go amiss.

      Above all the AG loves her job and performs with enthusiasm. As a former auditor in the commercial world I found the role of an auditor to be unexciting and comparable with that of an actuary. On the other hand it is better than that of an undertaker or his contemporary, an insolvency practitioner.

  4. Preston Foster says:

    It always makes one feel good when a new official begins a quest to help our country and our citizens. Unfortunately when waste and corruption is brought to the fore, tremendous pressure is put upon the official until he or she is shown the door. Sad, isn’t it! Good luck, Miss Sue.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If only she had power to make change…..just another political game.. blah blah blah…politics islands?

  6. Anonymous says:

    just read miller shaw or e&y reports….that will tell you everything you need to know about cig and civil service wastage…..

    • Anonymous says:

      But the CS is a vote-buying social welfare regime. These reports failed to appreciate the cultural purpose of the civil service.

  7. Sabotage says:

    Good Nite somebody is going to jail or in a whole heap of problems?

  8. Anonymous says:

    Look at the CPA. Purest Absurdistan.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank You!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thank you AG. You have done great work since your arrival. Your approach to your work is commendable. XXXXX

    Your balance approach and commendation of our deputy governor is most welcomed.

    I never believed I would read an article like this on CNS. I think everyone can see the positive change in our civil service.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know it is a bit confusing, but the AG is the Attorney General. Ms. Winspear occupies a post called the Office of the Auditor General, or OAG which are the correct letters to which she is referred. No criticism of your post however, of which I am in full agreement.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Good news is you are an optimist, same old if you are a relaist!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Is she not a kind of consultant herself?

  13. Anonymous says:

    1. the AG will slam the CIG over the millions wasted on consultants to do the core jobs that the civil service is meant to do, or repeating work already done by consultants (i.e. the dump plan) and highlight the risk of abuse and corruption due to a lack of proper oversight or record keeping.
    2. The AG will slam the government over the operational spending in the educational sector, citing poor oversight and a lack of tangible return for the money spent. She will probably highlight a number of education ministry staff on long term leave with pay, and one or two overpaid underworked senior civil servants, and will highlight the risk of abuse and corruption due to a lack of oversight or record keeping.
    3. Everybody outside of government will agree with the observations and say that it’s high time something changed.
    4 Nothing will happen.

  14. Anonymous says:


    • SKEPTICAL says:

      Don’t hold your breath – the AG will yet again find it is difficult to spit into the wind – especially if she digs up some dirt……

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