December 12, 2019

The Editor Speaks: Overtime and more overtime

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It has been well overtime for an explanation on the circumstances that led the Department of () to exhaust its personnel 2017 budget more than three months before the end of the financial year.

Finally, an Internal Audit Service review requested by Ministry of Health Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn, has revealed many problems resulting in eleven recommendations. See our story published yesterday (October 2 ) at: https://www.ieyenews.com/wordpress/internal-audit-findings-in-cayman-islands-deh-overtime-enquiry/

An Internal Audit team worked in three phases to complete their investigation of the matter. The final phase was completed in September this year.

In the Phase 1 Report the IAS concluded: “The overtime overspend that occurred at DEH was the result of multiple failures and missed opportunities to report the issue across numerous roles and responsibilities within both the Department and the Ministry.
Ultimately, the Director of DEH had the responsibility of managing the approved budget, avoiding cost overruns and escalating concerns to the Ministry, all of which he substantially failed to do. At the Ministry level, the CO should have been agreeing and authorizing overtime for the Department and the CFO and should have been monitoring expenditure, budget variances and forecasts, and escalating concerns to the CO to ensure the Department was operating within the parameters of
its approved budget; however, these responsibilities were not carried out as intended.”

In Phase 2: “Although able to corroborate management data identifying vehicle downtime and staff absenteeism as major factors contributing to overtime expenditure at , we did not find sufficient evidence to substantiate the extent of the 2016/17 increases in these and other recorded factors including ‘special projects’ and ‘heavy workloads’.
With inadequate management information, malfunctioning internal controls and conflicting evidence, we believe there is a high probability that intentional abuse of the system was another significant factor behind the increased expenditure.
We believe a number of options were available to Department of Environmental Health management that could have been deployed to effectively contain the overtime overspend.

In Phase 3: “Our review identified multiple employees from the Department of Environmental Health with implausible 2016/17 overtime records, indicative of widespread abuse and substantial mismanagement within the Solid Waste Collections, Landfill, Recycling and Fleet operations.
We believe the exploitation of a cultural practice, whereby overtime is routinely accrued before the completion of regular contracted hours, intensified in 2016/17. Inadequate management information renders it impossible to quantify, but a significant number of paid overtime hours could have been regular work hours for which no additional expenditure should have been made.”

The conclusions in Phase 1 and 2 (see above) were also repeated under Phase 3 with the addition:

“In addition to our overall conclusions above which were all made to inform Management action, we have made a total of 11 recommendations across the 3 phases of the work undertaken. All recommendations have been made with the intent to protect or enhance the internal control environment, and have been accepted by Management at DEH or Ministry HECH.”

This last Report was heavily redacted.

It would appear all the recommendations made were implemented resulting in a staggering “reduction in overtime costs of some 80 percent over 2017 level”.

The previous Director of the Department of Environmental Health, Roydell Carter, was “rewarded” for his sterling performance by being placed on paid leave for many months before opting to take early retirement. A job “well done” and I believe adequately compensated for his hard work.

What Carter was doing all this time can only be left to speculation.?

Maybe watching the exciting racing between snails?

It would seem to be in keeping with how the refuse was collected until recently. There has been a vast improvement even if collections at Newlands, where I live, have not been executed on the exact weekday scheduled, Thursday.

That it has been collected at all is a plus with or without overtime involved.

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