Internal Audit Findings in DEH Overtime Enquiry
In November 2017 Ministry of Health Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn requested that the Internal Audit Service review the circumstances that led the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) to exhaust its personnel budget more than three months before the end of the financial year.
An Internal Audit team worked in three phases to complete their investigation of the matter. The final phase was completed in September and copies of all three internal audit reports are now available (Internal Audit Reports on DEH Overtime — Report 1, Report 2 and Report 3).
The 11 recommendations made by Internal Audit to prevent a recurrence of the situation have been accepted by the Ministry and the interim senior leadership team at DEH.
At the department level:
- To bolster capacity at DEH, two civil service leaders, Director of the Department of Vehicle and Equipment Services Richard Simms and the Manager of the Public Works Department’s Recreation Parks and Cemeteries Unit Mark Bothwell, were seconded to be Acting Director and Acting Assistant Director (Solid Waste) respectively. They will continue to assist in these roles while recruitment is undertaken to permanently fill the posts.
- For the past several months the DEH management team has focused on strict accountability and performance management to deal with the issues of poor attendance and unsatisfactory performance that helped to create the overtime overspend.
- The team has also worked to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of solid waste collections, the area of DEH operations identified as accounting for nearly all the overtime expenditure. This approach has led to a reduction in overtime costs of some 80 percent over 2017 levels. We believe the success of these efforts has shown in improvements to the regularity of the waste collection service across the Cayman Islands.
At the ministry level:
- Chief Officer Ahearn has updated heads of departments’ delegations to ensure that both the ministry and the senior staff have a clear understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities.
- The Ministry has re-introduced internal monthly finance updates to regularise reporting from its finance team to other ministry managers. This also allows the finance staff to provide regular updates on departments’ performance against budget targets.
- The Chief Officer has also taken steps to ensure there is a shared understanding of when matters should be escalated to the Chief Officer’s attention, and what sort of actions are required to prevent a similar situation in the future.
We are confident that these steps provide a strong foundation for continued improvement going forward, as the Ministry seeks to recruit a permanent leadership team.
As enquiries are ongoing into matters raised by the Internal Audit reports, the Ministry can make no further comment on this situation at this stage.