Public Accounts Committee finds tourism ad agency tried to destroy civil servant’s career

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Advertising agency GlobalHue attempted to destroy the career of a veteran tourism official because he refused payment unless the company properly invoiced its claims, the Public Accounts Committee has found.

GlobalHue CEO Don Coleman attacked Glenn Bean in an e-mail to Premier Ewart Brown rather than provide the requested invoices, according to a report tabled Friday in the House of Assembly.

The director of sales and marketing was offered a new position with no job description or any specified place in the Department of Tourism management structure in the aftermath.

GlobalHue was awarded a $13 million, three-year contract in 2006 to act as Bermuda’s advertising agency, and was granted a $28 million contract in 2009.

The company’s relationship with Premier and Tourism Minister Dr Brown became a source of controversy sources suggested that the company was awarded the contract only because Mr Coleman and Dr Brown were friendly.

Auditor General Larry Dennis said in a special report released in 2009 that he had some “misgivings about the appropriateness of some payments to GlobalHue” for the 2007/2008 fiscal year.

He said the Department of Tourism may have paid $1.8 million too much to the company, which earned commissions as high as 186 percent for its work.

The PAC found in 2010 that GlobalHue was awarded its contract without an open tendering process a clear breach of Government’s financial rules.

The company has denied over-billing Bermuda; Dr Brown has said the GlobalHue contract was awarded through approved procedures and was renewed because of its “outstanding record.”

PAC chairman Bob Richards told the House of Assembly on Friday that Mr Bean gave the committee new information which raised further questions about the relationship between GlobalHue and Dr Brown.

Mr Bean found GlobalHue’s billings did not have attached the relevant invoices of media that was purchased, as was required by Financial Instructions, GlobalHue’s contract and US Federal Communications Commission regulations.

“GlobalHue’s payments were stopped, pending the submission of proper invoices,” the PAC report said. “Instead of willingly providing the invoices, documents provided to the committee indicate that GlobalHue proceeded to try to destroy the career of [Mr Bean], a Bermudian veteran tourism officer of 20 years.

“The CEO of GlobalHue wrote a shockingly strident and totally unprofessional letter directly to the Premier/Minister of Tourism and Transport, containing insulting personal attacks on [Mr Bean], thereby short circuiting the Director of Tourism and the Ministry permanent secretary.

“The direct access to the Premier/Ministry of Tourism and Transport gave GlobalHue the licence to ignore established protocols.

“This relationship is the perspective from which the breaches in Financial Instructions must be viewed.”

Mr Bean was offered a new job as ‘director of international development’ following the e-mail — with the job offer printed on GlobalHue letterhead.

“He was unsure at the time if this job was to be with the Department of Tourism or GlobalHue, and he concluded that he was being shunted aside out of his DSM post to one which would soon evaporate,” the PAC report said.

“The post turned out to be a government position. Although approved by the Cabinet, it was a temporary position with no job description nor any place in the Department of Tourism management structure being specified.

“[Mr Bean] testified that tremendous pressure was applied on him by senior ministry officials to take the position, and he was told that he could ‘name his price’.

“An e-mail, sent by a senior ministry official, criticising [Mr Bean] for not taking the position was apparently erroneously copied to [Mr Bean], thereby adding to the pressure.”

Mr Bean declined the offer and resigned from the post a few months later.

He was paid $440,000 as part of his severance package in November 2007 instead of the $132,000 he was owed under the New York Tourism office’s pension scheme, according to a 2011 report by Mr Dennis.

Summarising the PAC’s findings, Mr Richards said that the evidence presented showed that civil servant responsibilities were overridden by Dr Brown and GlobalHue, and that financial instructions were not adhered to.

As a result, it is unlikely that the public received value for money, he stated.

The committee recommended that the Civil Service executive be reminded that inappropriate interference by any outside agents in the work of civil servants contravenes financial instruction.

The report was signed by Mr Richards, along with committee members Lovitta Foggo, Patricia Gordon Pamplin and Walter Lister.

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