I welcome the report released today by the Auditor General's office on the Management of Government Procurement and the request which His Excellency the Governor has extended to me to take the lead in responding to it.
It has been recognised for some time that 'procurement' is an area in which our systems have not been developed as fully as they should, or by comparison as they have been in the financial and human resources areas. This report will prove a valuable resource and stimulus to efforts which were already being contemplated to address this area during the first half of the '11/'12 fiscal year.
While there are many principles and practices from other jurisdictions which can be referenced, it will be important that any system enhancements which are proposed reflect the uniqueness of Cayman and the markets from which we procure. And the success of these enhancements will depend on them encompassing both the rules and guidance that is provided on paper and the skills and knowledge of our people who are expected to apply them.
While the Auditor General's report makes a number of broadly critical statements as to the state of procurement, I am proud of, and grateful for, all of those public servants who consistently strive to ensure that the interest of the public is best served within the systems at their disposal.
I look forward to my colleagues and I working with His Excellency, the Commission for Standards in Public Life and the Cabinet in developing a modern and resilient procurement system that continually strives for efficiency, effectiveness and value-for-money while ensuring that all entities who are eligible to provide goods, services or facilities have the opportunity to do so, and that the determination of the success of offerings is based on clear, fair and auditable criteria and processes. The public deserves no less.
Governor Responds to AG Report
I welcome the Auditor General's thorough and frank report on the management of Government procurement, prepared in part in response to a request that I made to him last Autumn for a general review of Government's procurement practices.
There are many dedicated and professional Public Servants who do their best to make our procurement system work. This report does not question their commitment. But it does highlight serious shortcomings in our procurement system which we need to address and to address quickly. I have therefore today asked the Deputy Governor, Donovan Ebanks, as Head of the Civil Service, to take the lead in preparing an urgent response to the report, including drawing up an action plan to address the shortcomings identified.
The Auditor General's report calls for a wider review of the procurement management framework. Under the terms of the 2009 Constitution, the Commission for Standards in Public Life is mandated, under Section 117(9)(d) "to review and establish procedures for awarding public contracts". I have today spoken to the Chair of the Commission, Ms Karin Thompson. She has assured me that the Commission will give priority to this area of their work in the light of the Auditor General's report. The Commission have already done a good deal of work in this regard and kept in close touch with the Auditor General's office during the preparation of this report.
I note that the Auditor General has reported that he had found instances of political interference in the procurement process and that there are significant risks when this happens. I believe that the best way to eliminate those risks is to ensure that we have a robust and effective procurement system which enjoys the respect of all stakeholders. That is what we aim to achieve.