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OAG report finds government slow in taking action

Government 15 Oct, 2022 Follow News


The latest report issued by the Office of the Auditor General has found government has been slow to implement recommendations made by the Public Accounts Committee as they relate to Workforce Planning and Management in the Cayman Islands Government and also Efficiency of Summary Courts.

The report, issued on 12 October 2022, is an update on two earlier reports made by the OAG in April 2018 and November 2019 and the subsequent PAC reports tabled in April 2019 and July 2020. Together the OAG and PAC made a total of 29 recommendations in these reports. As of September 2022, more than 75 per cent of the recommendations had not been implemented. There had been no or limited progress with six (21 per cent) of the recommendations, 16 (55 per cent) recommendations were in progress or action was planned. Only six (21 per cent) had been fully implemented.

Sue Winspear, the Auditor General, said it was disappointing that, overall, limited progress had been made in implementing the recommendations in the two reports covered.

“This is particularly disappointing as some recommendations date back to 2018,” she said. “However, it is worth noting that my assessments show different rates of progress made by government entities.” 

In particular, with regard to the Efficiency of Summary Courts recommendations, Ms Winspear noted that almost three years had passed since making these recommendations, and only three (23 per cent) of the 13 recommendations had been implemented.

“All three of these recommendations were directed to the Government. Judicial Administration has not fully implemented any of the ten recommendations directed to it. This is very disappointing,” she stated.

 Ms. Winspear said it had been almost three years since she recommended that Judicial Administration consult court users to identify their needs, perform long-term demand projections, and feed this information into the Outline Business Case for the new court building.

“This has not happened and there is still no Outline Business Case. Without taking these steps, the Outline Business Case for the project will be flawed and result in a court building that is not fit for its purpose. This could result in Judicial Administration incurring additional, unnecessary costs to modify the building later,” she said.

She added that Judicial Administration had not yet established a performance management framework for the criminal justice system.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic may have contributed to some additional backlog and delays in the court system, it is essential that robust performance information is in place to understand the reasons for adjournments and delays in court cases and make improvements where necessary. Efficient and effective administration is essential to maintain public trust in the justice system,” she said, urging the new Chief Justice to take forward the recommendations made as soon as possible.

With regard to recommendations for the Workforce Planning and Management in the Cayman Islands Government, she noted three (19 per cent) of the recommendations had been implemented and a further 70 per cent (11 of 16) had been partly implemented. Only two recommendations had had no or limited progress.

The AG noted that the Portfolio of the Civil Service had made some progress and was rolling out a new Human Resource Management System, my-Vista, that should provide better information to managers and Human Resource staff to help them plan and manage the Civil Service workforce.

“However, the system will not be fully implemented until December 2023, four years later than planned,” Ms. Winspear stated.

She also noted that PoCS had not yet implemented the recommendation to improve its approach to succession planning so that it could fill leadership and business-critical posts in the future.

“About 13 per cent of all civil servants are due to retire within the next six years. PoCS needs to identify which of these people are in business-critical posts and train and develop Caymanians to take up those roles in the future,” she pointed out.

The AG did have words of praise for the Deputy Governor, Franz Manderson, stating he had this year taken personal responsibility for coordinating and tabling government minutes.

“It is pleasing to note the positive impact of his commitment. Since my last follow-up report in February 2022, the government has made commendable progress in drafting and tabling government minutes, tabling its response to three PAC reports in Parliament,” she said. “In addition, the Cabinet approved the government minutes for another four reports in June 2022, and the government planned to table these minutes at the next sitting of the Parliament.”

However, she warned that the lack of regular meetings of the Parliament was contributing to the late tabling of government minutes, which hampered the accountability process. 

Mr Manderson said his office would continue working with relevant Chief Officers in ministries to ensure Government’s responses to the OAG reports tabled improve in timeliness and quality.

“Good governance and the efficient conducting of government business inform and guide all the actions we undertake in the Civil Service. We also take the recommendations of the Auditor General seriously and are unwavering in our commitment to translating them into action. This is despite challenges such as the critical response to the Covid-19 pandemic, with its effect on all aspects of government activities. Our goal continues to remain providing improved services and operations so the public gets the best value for money spent,” he said.

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