26 July, 2007

Board Accountability

Making Board Members Accountable. I read an interesting article on the topic in the Cayman Observer. How many times have we wished we could sue a Board for wasting the public funds? Cayman Islanders think it is time to do something about it. They are discussing putting it in their Constitution!

The governing party has proposed that government should have a power to sanction Board members of Statutory Authorities and government companies deemed to have wasted public funds. Of course, it would be the next government that would bring charges. You would not sue your own Board member, no matter how incompetent and wasteful, would you? But, the previous governments’ appointees will be fair game. Better late than never!

Will such a development bring a damper on volunteers to Boards and committees? I hope so. Only serious people who understand the meaning of the phrase “public trust” should be allowed on a Board in the first place. Public funds are not meant to be a pork barrel to be put into the hands of political supporters for them to dig in to at will.

This initiative follows a series of damming reports by their Auditor General. Does our Auditor General publish damming reports? Does anyone in the public get to see his reports? I would love to know how we can get a copy of his last one. Is it not the sort of document that belongs on the new government website?

What is the use of having a provision in General Orders that any senior civil servant who wastes public funds can be made to repay it, if members of Boards and Statutory Authorities can waste even larger sums of money with impunity? Let us put a similar provision in our new Constitution!


  1. In Cayman they have a visible and capable Auditor General, but the system works against him. He is required to submit his reports to the Speaker of the House, who passes it along to the Public Accounts Committee who discuss it in secret meetings. This has resulted in the reports being State Secrets for as much as a year and a half. The Auditor General there has stated that he and his staff work for the people and their reports should be immediately available to the people for public discussion and debate. It surprises no one in Cayman that government has done nothing to implement his suggestion, since open government doesn't benefit the government.

  2. Mr. Baird said last night on Talk Your Mind that we have not had a functioning Public Accounts Committee because in Anguilla we have a tradition (he called it a "convention") of having the Leader of the Opposition chair the PAC. Since we don't have a Leader of the Opposition, he believes he has no obligation to bother with the PAC.

    A feeble excuse for laziness and inaction that rivals those of Neil Rogers.

  3. Did the Ministers of Government get a 20% raise in July 2007?

  4. the idea of having board members disciplined only after the present GOA adminitration is no longer sitting, smacks of vindictive partisanship.
    The Auditor General's ambit ought to be expanded, permitting reccomendations to the Director of Prosecution to where any malfeasance may have occurred.

  5. If we had freedom of information, open government and a real newspaper, the Auditor General wouldn't have to make reports to the Prosecutor -- the blind could see the facts.

    The problem with the Auditor General is not his "ambit" but the secrecy that surrounds everything he does. In other Overseas Territories the reports of the Auditors General are public documents and there is healthy discussion and debate in the media. The Auditor General soon becomes a prominent person and he is frequently in the news and often widely respected. In Anguilla I suspect only a handful of people even know the man's name. If he were off sick for a year hardly anyone would notice.

  6. We are reaping the rewards of handing our media institutions over to those who do not abide by standards. A good demcoracy is only as good as a knowledeable media. Media is a powerful force. We let it go unchecked it can collapse governments. Is it so hard to establish a set of rules for all persons who want to own radio stations that broadcast news and have talk shows. If you just playing music and running commercials then the crtieria can be lowered.

    People have resorted to blogging and the internet because we have no newspapers. Hopefully, other views can help influence policy.


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