Customs and Border Control (CBC) said a new report from the Auditor General’s Office (AGO) must be taken in context.
While CBC said it is keen to implement feasible recommendations from the AGO report, it stressed the audit was conducted during a time of extreme challenge for the agency.
“There is no right time to do an audit in any organization,” said Director of performance audit Angela Cullen.
Ms. Cullen told Cayman 27 the AGO forged ahead with its comprehensive inspection of the Customs Department in 2018, when the agency was poised for a merger with Immigration.
At the time, CBC said its senior management team had been in place for little over a year.
“Many of the functions that the Customs department were doing would continue into Customs and Border Control, and many of the findings that we have are still relevant to Customs and Border Control,” said Ms. Cullen.
The report highlights deficiencies in Customs’ strategic planning. These include a poorly-managed rollout of a new five-phase IT system initially budgeted for around $277,000.
By December 2018 Customs had spent $662,000 on the project, which is currently in phase two.
“We do make a recommendation that it needs to be properly project managed, and new cost and time estimates need to be done to develop that IT project,” said Ms. Cullen.
Ms. Cullen said weaknesses in revenue concessions identified by the AGO in 2015 have gone largely unaddressed.
“There is no revenue concessions policy which provides that consistency or transparency for everyone,” explained Ms. Cullen.
CBC said it values the audit findings, and pointed out that the audit confirmed the agency has consistently exceeded its annual revenue targets by millions of dollars.
Ms. Cullen called the audit a snapshot in time, and a fair assessment of how Customs was operating.
“We think it’s really important that they actually take these things on board and develop a strategic plan, a workforce plan, performance management framework, all of the things that any organization would need to be able to manage its business effectively,” said Ms. Cullen.