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Cox: Govt to restore and regain trust’

Accounting firm KPMG helped design the Government's Procurement Office, Premier Paula Cox told the House of Assembly yesterday.

Ms Cox gave a four-hour brief on the Finance Ministry and said focusing on the process and compliance of how Government money is spent is equally important as saving money in order “to restore and regain trust and confidence”.

She added that some Civil Servants “will become very intimately aware of the sanctions section of Financial Instructions.”

Ms Cox told Parliament Government paid KPMG $63,000 for a diagnostic review which provided recommendations on ways to improve Government polices and procedures when it comes to capital projects in order for them to meet international standards.

Ms Cox said KPMG made a number of recommendations, including that the Ministry of Finance:

l develop an oversight authority to help manage capital projects and ensure compliance with Government policies and procedures.

l differentiate and define the controls, reporting and approval requirements that should be applied to small, medium and large projects.

l develop a thorough business case prior to tendering for large projects.

l ensure that adequate trained resources are available for project management.

l consider using a Central Coordinating Committee for large projects to help ensure efficient coordination of permits and approvals among ministries and departments.

l harmonise existing policies and procedures and ensure that they are relevant and consistent.

l develop additional controls during the procurement process to help ensure transparency.

l provide additional training regarding policies and procedures for user departments.

She added: “The work done by the Project Management and Procurement Office will also ensure that these recommendations are actioned within a reasonable and realistic time-frame.

“Members of the Project Management and Procurement Office have already created standard guidelines which meet OECD standards and will be distributed throughout the Civil Service and training of user departments will begin in the first quarter of this fiscal year.

“I am also pleased to inform this House that we have been approached by audit firms and private sector companies to assist in transitioning this important unit even further and we expect that the firm chosen will also provide help in selecting any additional persons required to staff this key unit.”

Ms Cox also outlined the work of a “strategic transition team” which includes Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott, Assistant Cabinet Secretary Judith Hall-Bean and Acting Financial Secretary Anthony Manders as well as others within Government.

The team is already working on a a review of vacant Government positions and recommending a freeze on the positions where possible, reviewing the list of consultants and recommending Government terminate some. “They are also identifying Government programmes that are no longer effective and determining whether they should continue in a new format or be canceled.

Ms Cox said the UK's National School of Government had also made recommendations to Government on the way the civil service operates.

Ms Cox said the changes must come from within Government, adding: “Those who are prepared and willing to accept that public service is a noble service and to do the necessary work will have access to the tools and resources.

“Others will become very intimately aware of the sanctions section of Financial Instructions. No civil servant is exempt from the reach of this. “

All Government quangos have been told they must also be in line with Financial Instructions.

She said: “Change is not coming- change has come and I have a determination to make a difference in our operating procedures. I accept that no one and no system is perfect and so mistakes have been made, on occasion, but actions will be taken and improvements in our processes will continue to occur.

“There is also zero tolerance for flagrant ignorance of processes and financial instructions. The creation of the Project Management and Procurement Office, as well as the proposals put forth by the National School of Government, cannot cure all the challenges but it is a worthy start.”

Premier Paula Cox

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Published March 15, 2011 at 10:16 am (Updated March 15, 2011 at 10:16 am)

Cox: Govt to restore and regain trust’

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