May 10, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Where government wastes our money

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Sue Winspear, Auditor General of the Cayman Islands, has just issued a report how effectively the Government manages its use of consultants and temporary staff.

Her conclusion:

“The Government does not generally plan or project its need for consultants, with the exception of consultancy services for major capital projects. Nor does the Government routinely monitor how much it is spending on consultants or temporary staff. We estimate that over the five years to 30 June 2017, the Government spent a total of $38.5 million on consultants and temporary staff.

“The Government does not consistently consider value for money when engaging consultants. Its guidance requires that business cases be prepared and approved for all procurements above $10,000, and that Invitations to Tender (ITT) or Requests for Proposal (RFP) be used for open procurement. Our review found that business cases were not prepared for most consultant engagements, despite the fact that all of those we reviewed were above the $10,000 threshold. The business cases that were prepared did not include all of the information they should have, such as a cost-benefit analysis, to justify the business need. Most of the 23 consultant contracts we looked at had an ITT or RFP, although they were not always sufficiently clear about what was required or what procurement process was to be followed. We identified a few consultant appointments where no RFP had been prepared when one should have been, resulting in the appointment of consultants without open competition.”

“The Government does not have a standard contract for the use of consultants, which means it is generally accepting suppliers’ terms and conditions. Some contracts are sent for legal review, but it is not clear how decisions are made on which contracts should be reviewed, and legal reviews of contracts may be inconsistent. We found that contracts had different payment terms, a lack of success measures and very few contracts required skills transfer as part of the terms of agreement. The lack of standard contract terms and conditions poses a risk to value for money.

“The Government does not formally manage and evaluate the performance of consultants once they are appointed, even though contract management is an integral part of ensuring value for money. There is no central guidance on how to monitor or evaluate consultants’ performance.”

And there is no guidance for how government should go about procuring and managing temporary staff.

“The Government mostly uses temporary staff to fill vacant administrative positions. We were told that temporary staff are usually brought in on fixed-term contracts, ranging from a few weeks to three months and renewed as necessary. However, the Government does not hold sufficient information on how long temporary staff have been engaged.

“When temporary staff are needed, ministries generally contact several recruitment agencies to provide suitable candidates for the roles. This provides a range of staff with a range of skills and expertise to choose from. However, there is no written guidance on how to recruit temporary staff. Given that the Government has spent between $0.4 million and $1.2 million a year on temporary staff over the last five years, it is important that it provide appropriate guidance to ensure that temporary staff are appointed appropriately.

“The Government has no formal mechanism for managing temporary staff and no guidance has been issued on how this should be carried out. As a result, when it does happen, it is done inconsistently across the ministries. We were told that if ministries experience poor or non-performance of temporary staff they generally request that the recruitment agencies replace them. However, no documents are retained to support this.”

It has been a popular belief government generally wastes our money and the main reason for this is it doesn’t matter.

However, times have changed, but words are cheap if there are no penalties for underperformance.

Winspear has made recommendations but what will happen if they are not executed?

We wait and see now how Ezzard Miller and his Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are going to deal with this.

Many government heads are in for a grilling that is for sure.

It is the action the government takes that is the most important. It is our money that is being wasted and we should all bring our government to task if they don’t act quickly. I don’t mind if they sharpen up that axe.

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  1. […] Source: Cayman Eye News Sue Winspear, Auditor General of the Cayman Islands, has just issued a report how effectively the Government manages its use of consultants and temporary staff. Her conclusion: “The Government does not generally plan or project its need for consultants, with the exception of consultancy services for major capital projects. Nor… Link: The Editor Speaks: Where government wastes our money […]

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