Probe launched into alleged theft of internal Govt report
Threatening disciplinary action, Civil Service head Donald Scott condemned the alleged theft of a report on Government spending that ended up broadcast on television.
Meanwhile, Auditor General Heather Matthews said she expected “swift and decisive punitive action” if misuse of public funds had been uncovered by the Department of Internal Audit.
According to ZBM, the report on spending at the Department of Communication and Information Services had been sent to them by post.
Mr Scott charged the station of possessing “a confidential report that was stolen from Government offices and leaked to Mr Gary Moreno at ZBM news”. He added that an internal enquiry was underway.
“The theft of the confidential report by Internal Audit is a serious matter and public officers who are found to have been involved will be subject to disciplinary procedures in accordance with the Public Service Commission Regulations,” Mr Scott said.
Internal Audit investigates the use of public funds in tandem with the Auditor General. According to Government, the report was part of ongoing, scheduled work to identify weak spots in internal controls.
Ms Matthews told
The Royal Gazette: “In relation to the DCI report, I expect that Internal Audit’s findings will be acted upon and remediated immediately.
“Where there are issues that relate to misuse of public funds, I would expect this to result in swift and decisive punitive action.
“The Minister of Finance, in reference to the Good Governance legislation in July 2011, is on record stating that ‘any hint of inappropriate behaviour will be addressed swiftly and without hesitation’. I am hopeful that this will be the case.”
Bermuda Public Service Union President Kevin Grant said that to his knowledge the union had received no complaints from members of the civil service in relation to misappropriation of funds in DCI.
Added Mr Grant: “I want to send a message that if I am going to tell employers and Government that we expect integrity and accountability, I would expect my members to abide by the same requirements.”
Noting that the BPSU had a responsibility to defend its members, he continued: “I can’t sit back and say that it’s okay to do these things that are against Government policy.”
Mr Grant also warned civil servants against jeopardising their jobs.
“Right now it’s not a secret that the civil service is being stretched.
“They’ve told us it’s hard to sustain. If any issue gave them an easy scapegoat to get rid of people, they would enact that procedure.”
Asked for comment, Acting Director of DCI Dwayne Caines said: “As this matter is being processed in the relevant manner, it would not be prudent for us to comment any further.”