January 24, 2022

The Editor Speaks: When inefficiency is what government welcomes

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Colin Wilsonweb2An ombudsman or public advocate is usually appointed by the government or by parliament, but with a significant degree of independence, who is charged with representing the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints of maladministration or a violation of rights. – Wikipeida

However, in the Commonwealth the Ombudsman investigates complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by a Government agency.

In the Cayman Islands we have in reality two such persons except we call them Complaints Commissioner and Information Commissioner. Both are separate and perform completely different functions.

All three persons who have held these posts have stated emphatically they must not be combined.

However, a firm of accountants who know absolutely nothing about the workings of these two offices, but are “experts” in finance have recommended these offices to be combined under a so called “Super Ombudsman” and also in order to shut up the public’s complaint that there is no one to complain to about our police force, to throw that under this superman.

Unfortunately, the three persons who know and whose opinion should have been the final say said placing them under one roof would be inefficient.

Wow. That has been the problem with the two offices. Despite being woefully understaffed they have been efficient. They have plagued, especially government offices, with work and given judgements against them finding them inefficient.

And the government has not liked their reports, including Cayman Islands governors who are appointed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They have ruled against them and have not backed down even after court appeals.

Now we can’t have that, can we?

And by lumping them altogether the ESTIMATED saving will be $661,000 to set up a Police Complaints Authority. It will also save approximately $205,000 from the merger of ICO/OCC.

Wow. An incredible saving in the whole of the government budget for the year. Ha. Ha. Not even a percentage point but it looks good on paper, especially adding in the Police Complaints Authority we don’t have.

Full marks to the person who was able to make the case for executing this appalling decision in the government release:

Officials have already developed an outline business case for the project, which lists objectives to which the project team must refer in its work. These include:
• “to maximise potential savings from management and administration costs through efficiencies while enhancing service delivery;
• to avoid additional management and administration costs for a stand-alone Police Authority;
• to enhance service delivery and good governance mechanisms by extending the range of services available and improving quality and timeliness;
• to create an independent police complaints process to achieve compliance with the Police Law 2010;
• to create a suitable framework for parliamentary oversight by establishing a subcommittee of the Legislative Assembly to cover the full range of proposed Ombudsman functions; and
• to ensure the new structure is robust enough to incorporate the proposed data protection and whistleblowing functions at minimum cost and, as far as possible, to ensure that future functions could be accommodated within the Ombudsman framework as required.”

This person gets the Colin Wilson Gold Award for Gobbledygook.

And government can proudly say we have saved the country money and you still have in place a person looking out for your interests and given him even more work to make his job even harder. But it looks good on paper. And it looks good to us in government if it as inefficient as the rest.

Applause.

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