Old AG report still reveals lessons for government
(CNS): The first report conducted by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) into the local affordable housing scheme shows that government was warned more than eight years ago about the problems that can arise when it fails to follow due process. Reflecting on the report he wrote in August 2004, the former auditor general, Dan Duguay, told CNS that, as old as the report was, it still had some value to government. “There are still lessons to be learned of the dangers of going without proper procurements, which is a recent theme in government. It seems like sometimes government never learns,” Duguay said after the report was released following a freedom of information request by CNS.
The audit had been kept under wraps for so long because it was conducted before the relevant rules relating to the auditor general’s reports were altered to allow the office to release its work to the public a few days after being seen by the Public Accounts Committee members.
The report was finally examined by the parliamentary committee at its last meeting in September, when Dr Frank McField gave evidence to the committee and defended the way in which the project had been procured and the quality of the homes.
The current auditor general, Alastair Swarbrick, said that his office was not going to spend any considerable time going over the findings as it was some eight years old. However, he said that the issues raised by his predecessor in the old report are almost identical to those his office is still raising in the more recent reports relating to procurement.
Following its release, Duguay pointed out that it would certainly have been far more useful if his work had been issued earlier as the main problems could have been probed and resolved much quicker.
“It raised several important points but the most important one is that contracts were issued without tender. There is also good evidence that local contractors could have done a good job at nearly the same costs but they were not permitted to bid,” Duguay said.
He also pointed to issues concerning not adhering to building standards, which have unfortunately proven to be true as the homes are now rusting out.
The publication of the old report comes in the wake of news from the current National Housing and Development Trust that the new homes currently being constructed under the initiative will no longer be sold but rented and the admission that building genuinely affordable homes in the Cayman Islands for those that cannot buy on the open market is impossible.
Plagued with problems from the get-go, the current NHDT boar chair Rayal Bodden and the general manager Julius Ramos said that these issues are now behind the trust. The men said that the public could rest assured that not only are the houses now being developed by the Trust up to standard but that the money it handles is also all accounted for.
“The NHDT has carefully considered recommendations of old audits and investigation reports and implemented effective systems to ensure proper checks and balances,” the officials said in a statement released Friday. “This has resulted in a good working relationship with the Auditor General’s Office for the past few years.”
The NHDT is also in the process of developing a new website that will include meeting minutes, financial statements, the publication scheme, NHDT’s public service information and application forms, as well as a “Homes-For-Sale” database.
In the meantime, the trust encouraged interested parties to make Freedom of Information requests to foi.nhdt @gov.ky
See AG's report here
See statement from NHDT below.
|NHDT - Press Statement.doc||61 KB|
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