St Lucia: The auditor general

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Dear Sir

It is unfortunate, that, Allen Chastanet did not run the country like a business. Most well-run large organizations have effective internal audit departments that serve to ensure accountability, performance improvement, skills development, and knowledge management.

It should be obvious, as a small highly indebted nation, that ensuring we get “Value for Money” from every dollar we spend, should be a priority. Yet both United Workers Party (UWP) and Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administrations have downplayed the role of the director of audits even as they continue to accuse each other of corruption when in government.

Audits departments make a significant contribution to organizations. When properly funded and managed, they can become the government’s hub for creativity and innovation. Most audits, particularly performance audits, involve the systematic documentation of processes, and workflows. The information generated can be studied to identify strengths and weaknesses or benchmarked against comparable performance in similar organizations. Without that systematic documentation and review, government departments have remained stagnant and bureaucratic, with processes that frustrate “customers” and most likely conceal corruption.

But effective audit departments are not just about policing the bureaucracy. At their best, they are the training ground for the next generation of public service managers. Auditing at its best is grounded in ethical standards and the reviewing of verifiable evidence upon which an objective opinion can be based. That culture of upholding core values is fundamental to our civilization. And if it were to disappear from our public service, it will not be long, before we descend into “failed state” status.

Perhaps Allen Chastanet did not know what he meant when he promised to run the government like a business.

Prime minister Philip J. Pierre started his career as an auditor. Let’s hope “Putting You First” will not abandon the rigors of “Value for Money” in public service management.

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