PAC told of rules training benefits
Government compliance with financial instructions continues to improve, financial secretary Anthony Manders told the Public Accounts Committee yesterday.
Mr Manders attended the afternoon meeting in Hamilton to explain the existing oversight procedures in the Ministry of Finance.
In a written statement to the committee, he explained that the system relied on self-reporting by accounting officers and civil service officers.
“Government employees must immediately notify the Accountant-General of any breaches of financial instruction,” he said. “Notification is required even if the breach does not result in financial loss to the Government.”
Mr Manders insisted that an employee financial instructions training programme, created by the Cabinet Office and Ministry of Finance, had positively impacted compliance rates.
“The main purpose of the training is to improve the culture of compliance, to ensure that it's not secondary but part of everybody's day-to-day job,” he said.
Reviewing a private document handed to the committee, One Bermuda Alliance MP Glen Smith suggested that ten known infractions had occurred between 2014 and 2016 at a total cost of $170,000.
Mr Smith said that the sum was greatly reduced from the 2011 report, while conceding that there was still “no excuse” for the six-figure loss.
“It shows that your training is certainly paying dividends to the taxpayer,” he added.
OBA backbencher Leah Scott asked Mr Manders whether there was any evidence of deliberate misconduct among staff.
“Have people unintentionally omitted the information needed, or have they colluded to intentionally breach financial instructions?” she said.
Mr Manders replied: “Most of the breaches are just from people not knowing financial instructions, although they should know them. I couldn't see any cases of collusion.”
He added that understaffing could have played a role in workers not adhering to rules as thoroughly as expected.
“I've worked in the Civil Service for a while and most civil servants do their job properly,” he said. “But you are going to have people who want to breach the rules.”
Also during the meeting, Mr Manders refused to release Schedule A of the Airport Development Agreement, which covers definitions and interpretations, having been summoned to do so at a meeting last month.
In response, PAC chairman David Burt informed him that the committee would discuss the matter privately, while they considered possible legal action.