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Civil servant lifts lid on Government waste

A civil servant has been rewarded by the SAGE Commission for lifting the lid on glaring inefficiencies at the heart of Government.

Department of Communication and Information employee Magnus Henagulph was awarded $12,500 yesterday for his ideas for how to reduce Government spending, which he submitted as part of the SAGE Commission Awards Programme.

And Mr Henagulph pulled no punches in a 20-page report that revealed how: Ministers and senior civil servants were using taxpayers money to fund lavish lunches; said several senior civil servants had travelled around the world to attend conferences with little benefit to Bermuda; and questioned why Government spent thousands of dollars celebrating irrelevant days, such as Intellectual Property Day, that few people cared about.

He also said that the jobs of Minister Without Portfolio (Leah Scott) and Minister for Tourism (Shawn Crockwell) could be lost in a Cabinet reduced to just ten posts, and further suggested that the Sustainable Development Department should be closed altogether as: “Salaries and rent cost more than half a million dollars a year and [there is] nothing to show for it.”

Most shockingly, Mr Henagulph claimed that sick days were being routinely abused, and published an account of the cost of sick days taken by bus drivers in 2010 that amounted to $1.4 million, with the average number of sick days per Bermuda Industrial Union employee for the year at 16.2 days.

He also outlined the sick pay entitlement for a bus driver, with those having as little as three months of service getting five weeks full pay, while those with 16-plus years of service are entitled to 14 weeks full pay.

Mr Henagulph also claimed Government departments would race to spend unused funds at the end of the budget year on what he termed “frivolous items/events”. Examples included iPads for DCI Public Affairs Officers, and unnecessary website development.

The Royal Gazette understands that Mr Henagulph's submission has drawn fire from all sides, with a source telling this newspaper that the DCI employee was taking “a lot of abuse for what he wrote”.

Those who were quick enough yesterday were able to download Mr Henagulph's document, which makes for interesting reading and can be viewed in full on our website. However, the link on the SAGE Commission website was disabled last night, and, as of press time, no one from the Commission had responded to questions as to whether technical difficulties were to blame.

Commission chair Brian Duperreault described Mr Henagulph's submission as “a comprehensive itemised outline, that included savings suggestions and cross-Ministry cost reductions”.

A SAGE Commission spokesperson said the Awards Programme was intended to get members of the civil service as well as the general public involved in their Government review.

“The members of the SAGE Commission felt that the more engaged the community is in this important undertaking, the better the outcome will be,” the spokesperson said. “We were delighted with the numbers of Government employees who participated — about two dozen — and given the expertise that many civil and public servants have, weren't surprised that one of them was ultimately the overall winner.”

Private donors provided the funding for the prizes. An additional four people received a $2,500 cheque from the SAGE Commission for their successful entries:

— Jennifer Ebbin was honoured for her analysis and suggestions to improve the Civil Service.

— Andrea Franklin won the award for best entry from a government employee. Ms Franklin's cost-cutting ideas addressed a variety of topics including the postal service and overtime.

— Connor Burns was honoured for submitting the best entry from a young person aged 18 to 25. His idea suggests using the electricity generated by Tynes Bay Incinerator for the government's benefit.

— Ryan Robinson Perinchief claimed the prize in the under-18 category. The 17-year-old's extensive submission touches on topics ranging from government vehicles to Civil Service management. He provides examples of measures that have been successful in other countries to support a number of his ideas.

The Commission received over 400 entries, Mr Duperreault said.

“There was a broad representation from the public and private sector so we feel we met our objective of engaging the community in the process of looking for ways to create a more modern, efficient and accountable Government,” he said.

“The input from the Awards Programme, as well as the feedback we've received from the meetings and interviews we've held during the last five months, are helping us to form recommendations that reflect what the community feels needs to be done to create the Government we need and can afford.”

The programme also received many entries that included possible ways to increase revenue, Mr Duperreault said. Only ideas for reducing expenses were considered in judging the entries, but the ideas for increasing revenue will be passed on to Government.

Government: Public spending under scrutiny

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Published September 06, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 06, 2013 at 12:36 am)

Civil servant lifts lid on Government waste

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