Saturday, 25 June 2016

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam- 25 June   2016  

Auditors & Public Administrators

As per the Colombo Telegraph article ‘Inside Story: Arjuna Mahendran Wants Samarasiri To Oversee His Functions, Until His Return’ :

Samarasiri comes with a checkered history himself, amidst allegations that he too had a hand in the bond scam, and had sided with Mahendran at several instances even going to the extent of refusing to release details in relation to the bond issuance to the Auditor General.

In a Democratic system, we all have the right to produce outcomes as per our respective positions and it is NOT our duty to provide information to anyone on the basis of their higher position. The system operates as follows:

Within an organization the Service Provider is entitled to take authority over Beneficiary and the Beneficiary has to demonstrate Respect for the Service Provider in areas where the Beneficiary is required to report and not publish her/his work for wider consumption. This was the system that prevailed in Australian Public Service even though the system of Government was claimed to be democratic. This seems to be the case even today within Sri Lankan Public Service.

Where the lower ranking person produces public outcomes independent of the higher ranking official – for example the LTTE within the Tamil Community and the Sinhalese soldiers who raped and killed outside the rules of combat during the war – and the system fails to extinguish such outcomes through appropriate remedies – the Natural ceiling of Authority happens at that level. Hence the changeover to Democracy which when practiced has the effect of minimizing the possibility of rebellion.

Public Service turns towards Business Unit approach – as current Sri Lankan Government has also indicated – where the authority-respect system fails to bring about One mindedness and therefore only One public outcome is produced by the CEO. Once we change over to the Business Unit approach – the supplier must produce outcomes commonly available to all and the consumer must pay the price. This makes them Equal and Opposite. For other purposes – they are entitled to stay away from each other.

Was Mr. Samarasiri – the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka – required by his position to provide information to the Auditor General? To my mind, even the Governor of Central Bank has no such requirement in a true democracy where the two parties are Equal and Opposite. The Governor must do his duty as per his understanding of his position duty and produce outcomes that are available in common to all users – including the Auditor General. During my exchange with the NSW Auditor General in this regard – in respect of use of Clients’  Performance Indicators by the Audit Office I wrote as follows:

Most progressive organizations produce both – Financial and Non-Financial Performance Indicators. They  are both for MANAGEMENT purposes and reflect the THINKING and WORK_IN_PROGRESS. If you use Performance Indicators – then you are thinking with them. This is like the Executive Government participating in the Judicial process. Your Non-Financial Reports are the Legal records that these organizations are required to maintain – such as the Recruitment and Employee Assessment records. Where there is a big gap between Law and Practice – it requires YOUR staff to do the additional work. Taking the Performance Indicators distracts you away from this work. It is in breach of the Doctrine of Separation of  Powers. These organizations must be allowed to confidentially do the cooking and it’s up to your staff to do the spy work from the finished product to the LAW and not to their dreams and goals. You are seeking the short path because your staff are not trained to find out from the client staff what is going on. Staff often ‘hide’ information from you because you are third party. So they should. That way your staff would improve their skills. Using client-staff’s work-in-progress deters your staff from thinking through their own specialty = AUDIT on the basis of existing LAW. Then we would become a uniform society instead of a diverse society challenging each other – you within the existing law and the operational staff towards tomorrow’s laws. Challenging leads to creativity – as you can see from me. Gandhi also said that the night he was thrown out of the first class compartment of the South African RAILWAYS was his most creative experience.
You need to get the client organization to publish their non-financial reports that are mandatorily maintained. Public service organizations primarily make goodwill. This can also be positive or negative – profits or losses. They are collected together and are balanced with the total costs through Common Funds. It will be useful for you to develop a standard dollar value for these legal requirements so the People can SEE and know the Truth. Your role is not to help them make a profit but to report whether they are and how much. How about doing one on UNSW? Or State Rail?’

The Bond Issue was a Business move by the current management of the Central Bank. It would be difficult for the Auditor General whose mind is structured as per the previous system of authority-respect arrangement to appreciate the business value of such activities. I went into Public Service from a rich Private Sector background  and hence the ability to identify with the flaw in the NSW Auditor General’s claim. Anyone who allocates blame on the basis of the old system is confirming lack of wisdom in the system of Democracy. This includes the author of the above mentioned Colombo Telegraph article. Once we produce independent outcomes – we are claiming Equal status and not higher or lower status.

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