Well, I’ve had an initial glance over the auditor’s report, as per the link provided by VexedBermoothes. I’ve also briefly read over some of the statements in the RG.
I want to stress that I’ve never looked at an auditor’s report before, so I am definitely not familiar with what they should look like, you know, what the layout and writing should be. I have to confess that I consider myself first and foremost a student of Biology, and I am more familiar with scientific report writing styles here, you know, state what the problem is you’re investigating, then move on to the methods you’re going to apply to investigate it, then give the results, follow it with a discussion of the results and then a conclusion. Thats kind of what I expected to see in the report. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have the same structure.
My first reaction to it was that the Auditor seems to be quite subjective, or perhaps emotional, would be the better word. There is a lot of exclamation points and other such emotional-type writing in the report. That surprised me quite a bit as I thought it would be more appropriate to just state the facts and then ask questions based on them. Alot of the exclamation points would have been better rendered as questions in other words. To that degree I did find it rather unprofessional, but again, I’ve never read an auditors report or such thing before, so maybe I just had the wrong impression of them. Its just that these emotional-type statements struck me as something that would be more appropriate as handwritten comments on margins than actually typed incorporated text.
Having said that the questions that the report asks are, to me at least, some rather serious ones that need to be more adequately answered by Government. For example, I do not understand how Lisgar/LLC, whatever, recieved the contract in the first place. It looks to me as if their application was insufficient and should have been disqualified. I can understand using Government tenders as some sort of wealth redistribution mechanism, you know, help support and develop new entities that would otherwise struggle in breaking into the market versus established monopolies and the like. Thats fair and all, and there is a definite argument in favour of increasing diversity and competition within the existing framework. But just like Pro-Active with Berkely, where this seemed to be the case, I think its better to dole out these tenders (which have the goal of developing diversity and competition) to smaller sized projects so that they can develop expertise and knowledge-by-doing as it were. Handing out large projects to new entities risks biting off more than they can chew in a manner of speaking, and effectively leads to setting them up to fail and having a counter-productive result to that desired, as well as leading to public criticism of the initial decision. One wonders if that was in fact the case with this situation. And it does seem that alot of the other problems highlighted in the report as regards the Police Station/Magistrates Court project are directly related to the initial decision to award the contract to them when the initial review suggested they should not win the award.
The issue over the Auditors legal remit to investigate the MoW&E just strikes me as bizzare and I wonder what the legal advice that the Ministry based its statement on was. Either way it looks to me like a big red flag being shoved in the face of a bull (and yes I know bulls are actually don’t react to red but to movement, etc., but you know what I mean). In other words it looks like it was designed to draw the ire of the Auditor, so I don’t know what the thinking was that led to it. Just bizarre.
As for the part on the MoTourism, I am particularly concerned about the contract structure, in practice if not in theory, with GlobalHue. I don’t know anything about the company or its owners relationship with Dr. Brown, and any comments on that really verge on subjective interpretation that I think would be difficult to hold up in court (and I’m not saying the auditor alleges anything here, but I’m sure people would all the same), but the mark-ups and apparent lack of refunds for not producing the expected product at all, those concern me, and look like we’re being ripped off by the company. I think we certainly need to clear up the ambiguities there, and consider a new company instead. The issue about whether the Director of Sales & Marketing was ‘bought off’ is one that more information should be provided for, but I think the allegations are more circumstantial than anything else. I note that the Ministry has cleared up some of the discrepancy in the pay and I think the Auditor did make a mistake there, but not enough seems to have been done to clear up any misperceptions that the Director was indeed bought-off.
One issue that this bit does highlight, and indeed is, in a way, a red thread throughout the report, is an apparent perception that Civil Servants had felt pressured to comply with Ministerial decisions, although, and the report I think notes this too, it is not clear whether Civil Servants perceived they were being pressured to comply or that they truly were being pressured. I believe the PLP Chairman Mr. Burt made the statement that in politics you either define your opponent or your opponent defines you. In a way it can be argued that this phenomena of being pressured is more perception as a result of the PLP Government being defined by various sources (i.e. media, UBP) than fact. This means though that the PLP Government has its work cut out for it still in addressing this perception, and I am not sure really how they can combat it other than accelerating the Freedom of Information Act.
The issue of the Berkely Bond does seem to be particularly unproffessional in my reading. Not the issue itself, but the style that the report is written. I honestly don’t know all the behind the scenes info on Union Assets Management, but if it is true that its a shell for the BIU, and that the BIU used its property as a guaruntee for the bond, this strikes me as monumentally stupid of the Union. It would be of great irony if the PLP, as Government, succeeds in managing what the UBP and Forty Thieves failed to do, that is, break the BIU. I’m not saying thats the case, but without other information it does leave it opne to question. I am not implying that that was the intended result at all, nor do I think that it would happen, but its certainly unfortunate.
So, as I said, thats just my initial thoughts on the Auditor’s report. I do agree with the official PLP response that the report comes across as unprofessional in its writing, but there are some questions asked in it that need to be answered more adequately. And failure to address them will only lend support to those who would think the worst, and leaves supporters scratching their heads. If there’s anyone out there familiar with audit reports, please let me know if I am mistaken in thinking that the writing style was unprofessional, becasue I simply don’t have any experience in them. And if thats what passes as professional, I certainly think the profession needs to raise its standards.
Anyway, just my thoughts.