Minister Furbert On Efficiency Committee Report

June 2, 2019 | 29 Comments

[Updated] “The cost to the tax payer for the work of the Efficiency Committee was approximately $130,000, however with the improvement in efficiency and better controls, the Committee was able to obtain revenue for the tax payer over $12 million,” Minister for the Cabinet Office Wayne Furbert said.

Speaking in the House of Assembly on Friday, Minister Furbert said, “This Committee met 32 times between the dates of 13 March 2018 and March 31, 2019. Its purpose and remit was to review the functioning of all government departments to recommend improvements in the efficiency of operations. ”

The Committee consisted of Minister Wayne Furbert [Chairman], Cherie-Lynn Whitter [Permanent Secretary of Government Reform], Tina Tucker [Director of Budget], Ianthia Fox [Senior Management Consultant], Edward Ball Jr [BPSU Representative] Glenn Simmons [BIU Representative], Senator James Jardine, Richard James, and Karamoko Darrel-Dickens [Government IT Representative].

“At the Office of the Tax Commissioner, the department charged with administering the collection of the taxes and undertaking duties in accordance with legislative requirements, the Committee observed significant deficiencies in the area of the adjudication of stamp duty, collection, staffing levels, as well as IT infrastructure,” the Minister said.

“The Committee identified processing deficiencies that had resulted in $354,972 worth of expired, uncashed checks. One check dated as far back as 2006. Further, ‘Un-adjudicated’ stamp duty on some 1,590 property conveyancing files highlighted a huge backlog of work with the resulting loss in significant amounts of revenue for the Bermuda Government, representing in the region of $8 million. What’s more, some 318 files dated as far back as 2013.

“With the Committee’s intervention, I am pleased to report that the OTC has now recovered a total of $315,578 of the $354,972 expired, check balance. Further, of the $8 million of Un-adjudicated stamps, the OTC has now received $3,859,731 in cash, and a further $2,951,238 has been billed but not yet collected.

“Following a series of meetings with the Tax Commissioner and his management team, which included the review of extensive data points, the Committee advanced recommendations that to date have resulted in the addition of 4 temporary resources and the collection of over $3 million of old debt.

“Also, as a result of the Committee recommendations, the OTC will now recoup about a $800,000 dollars paid in credit card processing fees which has historically been paid out of the consolidated fund.

“The cost to the tax payer for the work of the Efficiency Committee was approximately $130,000. However, with the improvement in efficiency and better controls, the Committee was able to obtain revenue for the tax payer over $12 million dollars, a return of investment of over 9,130%.”

Minister Furbert added that the Committee made 93 recommendations covering a wide range of Departments, which included 24 recommendations for immediate change, and 69 recommendations for medium to long term changes.

Following a question from the OBA’s Pat Gordon Pamplin, Minister Furbert explained that breakdown of costs included $5,000 per month for him as Chairman, and $2,000 a month remuneration for the members.

Later during the sitting of Parliament, OBA MP Michael Dunkley mentioned the payment to Minister Furbert for his work on the Efficiency Committee, saying, “We learn that the Junior Minister at the time was paid $60,000 to conduct work during this Efficiency Committee report.

“The member at the time was an MP and he was Junior Minister within Finance,” Mr Dunkley added, “And on top of that was getting paid $60,000 to work on the Committee.”

Update June 3, 1.50pm: As a point of clarification, while it was stated members received $2,000 per month, it appears not all did, as BPSU Representative Edward Ball has confirmed he “did not receive any public funds of $2000 per month as a member of the Efficiency Committee,” and served on the Committee pro bono; as in for free.

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker,

I rise this morning to provide this Honourable House with the outcome of work undertaken by the Efficiency Committee.

Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will recall that in March 2018 The Premier and Minister of Finance appointed The Efficiency Committee, under the authority of Section 61[4] of the Bermuda Constitution. This Committee met 32 times between the dates of 13 March 2018 and March 31s, 2019.

Its purpose and remit was to review the functioning of all government departments to recommend improvements in the efficiency of operations. This provided an extensive scope for the Committee to structure its approach.

Mr. Speaker, the Committee consisted of the following individuals:

  • Wayne Furbert – Junior Minister of Finance [Chairman]
  • Ms. Cherie-Lynn Whitter – Permanent Secretary of Government Reform
  • Ms. Tina Tucker – Director of Budget
  • Ms. Ianthia Fox – Senior Management Consultant
  • Edward Ball Jr – BPSU Representative
  • Glenn Simmons – BIU Representative
  • Senator James S Jardine
  • Richard James
  • Karamoko Darrel-Dickens – Government IT Representative

Mr. Speaker, the Committee determined to focus on those areas where the greatest value could be achieved.

Its work included reviews of the Office of the Tax Commissioner, Registrar of Companies, Social Insurance, Office of Project Management and Procurement, overtime and wages in various Departments, Boards and Committees, and cross-Ministry expenditure on materials and supplies, to name a few.

Mr. Speaker, at the Office of the Tax Commissioner, the department charged with administering the collection of the taxes and undertaking duties in accordance with legislative requirements, the Committee observed significant deficiencies in the area of the adjudication of stamp duty, collection, staffing levels, as well as IT infrastructure.

The Committee identified processing deficiencies that had resulted in $354,972 worth of expired, uncashed checks. One check dated as far back as 2006. Further, “Un-adjudicated’ stamp duty on some 1,590 property conveyancing files highlighted a huge backlog of work with the resulting loss in significant amounts of revenue for the Bermuda Government, representing in the region of $8 Million. What’s more, some 318 files dated as far back as 2013.

Mr. Speaker with the Committee’s intervention, I am pleased to report that the OTC has now recovered a total of $315,578 of the $354,972 expired, check balance.

Further, of the $8 million of Un-adjudicated stamps, the OTC has now received $3,859,731 in cash, and a further $2,951,238 has been billed but not yet collected.

Mr. Speaker, Parliament should be made aware that the Efficiency committee identified a significant shortage of staff due to the hiring freeze by the former Government. This had a significant impact on Auditing Businesses to ensure that they were paying payroll tax and collecting accounts receivable.

Following a series of meetings with the Tax Commissioner and his management team, which included the review of extensive data points, the Committee advanced recommendations that to date have resulted in the addition of 4 temporary resources and the collection of over $3 Million of old debt.

Mr. Speaker, the support of the Efficiency Committee to the Office of the Tax Commissioner has resulted in the strengthening of administrative processes relative to the adjudication, and collection of taxes with that Office now in a position to complete a full review of its systems requirements and take the necessary steps to maximize efficiency through the further automation of processes.

Also, as a result of the Committee recommendations, the OTC will now recoup about a $800,000 dollars paid in credit card processing fees which has historically been paid out of the consolidated fund.

Mr. Speaker, the Committee’s work at the Office of the Tax Commissioner alone has had a multi-million dollar impact on the consolidated fund.

Mr. Speaker, at the Office of Social Insurance, the Committee reviewed, in consultation with the Director, the matter of outstanding accounts receivable for Social Insurance which as at November 2018 amounted to $44.8 Million of which, at the time some $28.9 million was over 120 days old.

The Committee has advanced a raft of recommendations to address compliance, collection, and IT infrastructure issues at the Office of Social Insurance to arrest this long outstanding debt collection issue. The Committee highlighted the synergy between the Pension Commission and the Social Insurance Department, and have advanced a recommendation that could result in a joint Board to oversee both, as there could be some cost savings in doing this.

Mr. Speaker, the Efficiency Committee worked with the Department of Immigration, other relevant government departments, the Chamber of Commerce Real Estate Division, and a representative from the local legal fraternity to review the processing of Alien Licenses for the purchase of Bermuda property. It had long been advanced that extended processing delays negatively affected sales and as a consequence potential buyers had lost interest and were terminating purchases. The processing impediments represented a loss of revenue to the Government.

Mr. Speaker, based on recommendations from the Efficiency Committee, steps have now been taken to automate the circulation of Alien License files within the Government with a view to reducing the processing time considerably for properly executed submissions.

Further discussions with Realitors lead to a more progressive way of calculating Leases which Government will now receive millions of dollars of additional revenue,

Mr. Speaker, other Efficiency Committee recommendations related to procurement of material and supplies has reignited the drive towards framework agreements for the Government and work is currently in channel via the Office of Project Management and Procurement to consolidate Government’s buying power across a number of areas.

It is expected that the Office of Project Management and Procurement will complete an evaluation of the purchasing of goods and services throughout Government and make recommendations for cost savings to secure the best price and further, to evaluate and implement short, medium and long-term goals and opportunities for cost savings.

Mr. Speaker , the Committee made 93 recommendations covering a wide range of Departments. These included:

  • I.Twenty-four [24] recommendations for immediate change;
  • II.Sixty-nine [69] recommendations for medium to long term changes.

Mr. Speaker, the cost to the Tax Payer for the work of the Efficiency Committee was approximately $130,000. However, with the improvement in efficiency and better controls, the Committee was able to obtain revenue for the Tax Payer over $12 million dollars, a return of investment of over 9,130%

Mr. Speaker, the Committee remains grateful for the candor and keenness shown by the public officer with whom we met. All expressed an appreciation for the support of the Committee in advancing collaborative recommendations to address long outstanding issues.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I would like to thank those members of the Efficiency Committee for their time and efforts in this venture, and for their valuable contributions to this process. Their advice was very much appreciated.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Consolidated report of the Efficiency Committee for March 2019 follows below [PDF here]:

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Comments (29)

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  1. 2 Bermudas says:

    It takes a special kind of person to get compensation for this when they are already earning as MP and JR Minister!

  2. Question says:

    So he gets paid $60,000 to advise himself how to do his job better.
    Sounds pretty typical of this lot.

    • Seriously says:

      Efficiency. Doing more with less. Oh, let’s hire more staff.

  3. Onion Peels says:

    I’m stuck on this weekend’s crossword – three letter abbreviation for self-dealing, begins with P?

  4. Sandgrownan says:

    So who in the civil service will be held responsible for the inefficiencies?

  5. Ringmaster says:

    So in summary. MP Furbert is saying he was paid an additional $60,000 to do what is his job, and the Committee as a whole found the Civil Servants, including as the Manager, the Permanent Secretary, had not done their jobs. Then suddenly $12 million can be collected. Put that against the reported nearly $200 million in uncollected taxes as a whole. Of course there are no penalties against the civil servants, they probably got promotions. When will the Government enact the Sage Commission recommendations, reduce the cost of the civil service and make it more efficient? Or is this what MP Furbert is taking credit for?

    • Infidelguy says:

      Thank you for stating what is so obvious. If they really want to be more “efficient”, they can start by removing some of the dead weight in those “inefficient” departments. I would suggest that they start from the very top and work their way down!

      When is this government gonna stop operating like a banana republic?

    • inna says:

      Could you imagine the outcry if this was the OBA??

      WHERE IS THE PEOPLES CAMPAIGN?!?!?!

    • Beverley J Connell says:

      The SAGE report is exactly what this committee is taking credit for. The 2013 comprehensive SAGE report, cost us nothing. All very qualified volunteers. This recent Efficiency Report (purpose and remit was to review the functioning of all government departments to recommend improvements in the efficiency of operations, sound familiar?) cost us $160,000.00 and took a (precious) year to complete. A complete duplication of effort and waste of tax payers $$$$$. Travesty. This administration’s express purpose seems to be to create salaried jobs where none are needed.

  6. John E. Thorne says:

    Is this committee also going to investigate the unaccounted for millions under the previous PLP government and the payments to friends and family of the current administration?

  7. Clueless leadership says:

    What an insult to all the people who devoted long hours and workers got free in the SAGE report. Finding uncashed cheques in a drawer has nothing to do with efficiency and the fact that Furbert is trying to justify his double dipping a value for money is an insult to taxpayers. I demand the Premier make him pay this back to taxpayers.

  8. Rotten Onion says:

    Can I add to the efficiency report. I propose to fire half the caninet and 1,000 civil servants, that should save us some coin.

  9. puzzled says:

    Vote em out.

  10. Rocky5 says:

    This is just unbelievable- NOW, ANYONE (including Govt employees), asked to join ANY GOVT committee will want to be paid at the same level!!

  11. 21 says:

    Flip Flop go sit down ,count your additional schedules ,and laugh at us the stupid lot that voted for you We all know and can see this is a BS report with no consequences for the inept deficcient departments in the report

  12. the devil is in the details says:

    Translated,
    I just got paid to the tune of $60,000 and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    (really,got news for you,the British Government now know, hopefully they will do something about you and your cohorts!).

  13. somuchless says:

    Everytime the name Wayne Furbert comes up I think about a pymaird scheme. How can anyone take this guy serious.

  14. Mark says:

    Too funny. The Pee El Pee has to bring out retro UBP’ers to read stuff none of them actually comprehend.

  15. Paper Straw says:

    It is the government who make the laws and it is the government who collect the dues. That is what we pay them for. I don’t understand why we should pay them twice?

  16. Joe Bloggs says:

    “This Committee met 32 times between the dates of 13 March 2018 and March 31, 2019″

    That is $1,875.00 per meeting.

    I hope those meetings lasted at least 5 hours each, so that we were only paying Wayne $375 per hour in addition to his pay as an MP and his pay as a Cabinet Minister

  17. Dave says:

    In the name of efficiency, can this committee please make sure the government takes the $3 million of taxpayer money it currently plans to waste on, once again, attempting to take human rights away from gay people, and instead spend it on removing dangerous mould from our public school classrooms.

  18. me says:

    is this another Ponzi scheme ?

  19. Leadership until Next Election says:

    Thankfully we will have another General Election in the next 18 – 24 months and we can reverse 25 – 11, to 16 – 20.

    There are swathes of talent in Bermuda and the Premier decides to place legacy MP Furbert in such a critical role. Have we forgotten his supervision of the BLDC already when he charmed Premier Cox into making him a Minister.

    Premier Burt presents well, looks the part, sounds the part, but his actual performance and Cabinet overall has been lacklustre.

    Please no trolls saying the Govt is broke because the Govt is finding millions for Consultants who we were told in the HOA are trusted and can open the email accounts of Ministers.

    Empty suit leadership is becoming more and more apparent.

  20. Jason says:

    I can tell you as a former oba member you’ll be dead if you decide to hold your breath for that to happen. Black Bermudians will not vote oba again. I can assume the last election didn’t tell you anything. Keep wishing on a star mate.

  21. Double S says:

    The SAGE Commission (who did exactly what this Committee is doing now) created a very detailed report and proposed solutions and each and every member and person who participated did it for FREE!!

    This PLP Committee sees a sitting MP paid $60k for 32 meetings! Hahahahaha.

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