[Updated] The day after the Transport Minister told Bernews that Anthony Santucci was hired as a consultant for four months, Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott released a statement saying, “It is categorically untrue that Mr. Santucci has been engaged by the Ministry of Transport.”
Yesterday Minister Lister told Bernews via email that: “Mr. Santucci is to be a consultant for a period of four months assisting with legislative changes in the area of road safety. As everyone in Bermuda knows, he has been chair of CADA for a number of years and surely everyone would understand that he has expertise that will be of real benefit to the Ministry.”
The full statement from Donald Scott is below:
I note that there have been reports in the media of a consultancy to the Ministry of Transport.
One of my first acts as Cabinet Secretary was to establish an internal review committee to vet all applications to engage staff. The committee also reviews applications to hire consultants. No ministry or department is exempt from the process.
The Review Committee vets all requests and reviews the business case with a view to ensuring that the Government obtains value for money and that there is a defensible case to warrant the recruitment of staff or the hiring and retention of a consultant.
There is documentation associated with the process and without the necessary approvals; there is no authority for the Accountant General to make payment.
It is categorically untrue that Mr. Santucci has been engaged by the Ministry of Transport as there has not been a submission to the Review Committee.
Further, with the passage of the Good Governance Act 2011, there are now offences for non-compliance with Financial Instructions and other codes of practice in government administration.
It is unclear at this time why the Minister confirmed that Mr Santucci would be employed as a consultant, and less than 24 hours later the Cabinet Secretary releases a statement which appears to refute the Minister’s words.
We sent a screenshot of yesterday’s email from the Minister confirming Mr Santucci was hired as a consultant, and asked for clarification from Government. We will update as able.
Update 3:30pm: We have not yet received a response
Update 10:00pm: No response as of yet
Update August 6th, 7:00am: We never received a response. Minister Lister told ZBM the same thing, and on last night’s news they showed a photo of the message sent by Minister Lister to ZBM’s senior reporter Gary Moreno.
Update 8:00am: Acting Opposition Leader Trevor Moniz released a statement saying: “Mr. Terry Lister is a long-serving minister, so we have no reason to doubt his original statement, no matter what a senior civil servant says in damage control.”
“Mr. Lister’s statement provides insight into Government practices that have long raised concern and anger across the community. The hiring of Mr. Santucci – can anyone deny he was in line to become a Transport consultant? – smacks of cronyism.”
“We support the Government’s recent move to adopt some of our longstanding calls for better governance, but the Santucci controversy indicates just how difficult it will be to change self-serving attitudes that have hurt Bermuda.” Read his full statement here.
Update 9:10am: Premier Paula Cox released a statement saying: “Let me be clear. The dial has been re-set. The rules of engagement have been made transparent. Further, the division of responsibility between policy-setting and implementation of policy is also clearer.”
“Civil servants have charge of operating the machinery of government and it is appropriate that senior civil servants speak to process and procedure. The Secretary to the Cabinet did that in very clear terms. Mr. Santucci has not been engaged.” Read the full statement here.
Update 10:31am: Statement below from the UBP’s Charlie Swan:
We note with great interest Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott’s press release which poured cold water on the release that Anthony Santucci had been hired as a consultant by the Ministry of Transport.
Notwithstanding, the outcome, the now premature announcement by theTransportation Ministry to hire immediate past PLP Chairman Anthony Santucci as a road safety consultant to advise on road safety legislation is a surprising move that clearly puts political patronage in the picture.
We recognize Mr. Santucci’s efforts as the Chairman of CADA and his public pronouncements on behalf of road safety and anti-drunk driving campaigns and empathize with his personal job loss in recent weeks, but we are duty bound to question this move as it has more to do with political patronage than providing good legislation.
During this period of austerity and the need to do more with less – what is the justification for the Ministry of Transport hiring a consultant to prepare legislation for road safety?
The Ministry already has a Road Safety Officer on staff to handle such matters. It appears nonsense and makes a mockery of the difficult financial position the Bermuda government and our country finds itself in today.
What irony that the same Minister of Transport (Hon.Terry Lister) who last year blasted Premier Cox’s fiscal indiscipline in the lead up to the PLP leadership election contest with his “Its Bermuda’s turn” campaign heads up a Ministry acting fiscally irresponsible.
This decision is in stark contrast to that themem and smells of political cronyism. Furthermore, we may wish to excuse Minister Lister and his Permanent Secretary for missing the passage of the Good Governance Act or the implementation of new Financial Instructions by the Head of The Civil Service – they were after all attending the historic Space Shuttle launch. But so much for ‘joined up’government!
The scary thing is that the old mindset that caused the need for revised Good Governance legislation in 2011 continues today. In contrast to the PLP clamor from back in the day when they challenged that jobs went to the Old Boys Association – it now appears that the more things change, the more they stay the same.