The awarding of a scholarship to Shevon Moore

CONFIDENTIAL MEMO

To: Board Members, Central Housing & Planning Authority

From: Mark Jacobs, Chair Land Allocation Committee

Date: 9th January, 2017

Subject : The awarding of a scholarship to Shevon Moore

 

Dear Members:

A member of the Management Team informed me that Ms. Shevon Moore (Land Allocation Officer III) has been offered a scholarship through the Public Service Ministry to read for a masters degree at the Korea Development Institute School for Public Policy (South Korea).

The Board has never been issued with a long promised HR Policy document, hence

I am not sure what relevance the Authority has on these matters.

As Chairman of the Land Allocation Committee, I’ve had numerous interactions with MS. Moore and have been privy to some of her work in the Land Development and Allocation department. She is tasked with a range of key responsibilities but is frequently late and absent from work and can best be classified as a “low performing middle manager.”

Ms. Moore  is responsible for conducting training of employees in usage of the Land Management System. However, no record or evidence of these supposed training sessions have ever been presented. Nor have employees demonstrated an improved efficiency resulting from said training.

Sir, as you are aware, the LMS is seriously flawed and much of this blame is on account of the Head of the IT department, Mr. Andre Ally. However, Ms. Moore’s performance in this arena is likewise suboptimal. For example, the sparse and non-existent documentation of follow up on issues/problems to be addressed and rectified in the LMS. Some of these problems have been talked about for years without resolution.

No records have been presented to show how issues arising have been documented and subsequently resolved. The only substantive information received was a list of problems verbally communicated to the IT department over a vague, unspecified period of time.

Based on a report presented by Director of Operations, Denise King-Tudor, the filing system of the department falls under the control of Ms. Moore. This ‘system’ has been an abysmal  failure with hundreds and probably thousands of records gone missing or unaccounted for.

The crucial task of creating and/or implementing a new filing system was assigned to Ms. Moore some months ago. I queried then, why in the year 2016 we needed a new system? and was told that the last ‘system’ was not functioning.

At this late stage, we’ve not seen a single report as to whether or not this process has commenced and if has, what is the projected conclusion date.

Ms. Moore is further responsible for entering cadastral plans into the LMS, here again her performance in this arena has been poor.

Mr. Chairman, I have always been puzzled at the low output of the Land Development and Allocation department. But, this ongoing data entry exercise has been extremely  instructive.

Upwards of 18,000 applications were sitting in the department, never having been entered into the LMS. This means that the conveyance and finance information on these applicants has not been digitised. This would require a number of months to complete. These delays and setbacks have down the line implications like our inability to access information like account receivables for example.

We did an examination of the time records of employees in the department which culminated with a report I presented to the Board, Indications of payroll fraud,” 11 October, 2016.

The findings of that report have been verified by CH&PA’s Internal Auditor Paula McKenzie, “Response to Report on payroll fraud,” 20 OCtober, 2016.

This initial examination of time records led to further checks being done on millions in overtime payments made to employees including Ms. Shevon Moore. Glaring inaccuracies in the records of this ‘work’ that was supposedly done and the record for the overtime itself, raised many more disquieting questions.

Sir, the original memo ‘Indications of payroll fraud’ and the internal auditor’s report are soon to be verified by auditors of the Ministry of Finance. At the conclusion of that exercise, it is my understanding that the file will be handed over to the Guyana Police Force.

After careful review of the facts, it is my opinion that the awarding of this scholarship to Ms. Moore is a result of a grave error in judgement by the Management Team, and they ought to have known better.

The HR Manager Mrs. Laverne Benfield-Sanscoulotte, the Secretary of the Board Ms. Deborah Edwards, the Director of Operations Mrs. Denise King-Tudor and other members of the Management Team have been privy to everything stated above except for the involvement of the Ministry of Finance. That they would give their nod of approval to this reflects poorly on their stated commitment to change as they have copies of the memo ‘Indications of payroll fraud’  and are aware of the findings of the internal auditor.

We have received numerous complaints from members of the public about the unprofessional treatment and harassment they’ve received from Ms. Moore and another Land Allocation III Officer in the department, Ms. Gaitre Ramawad.

To save the Agency further negative PR and embarrassment, on December 29, I wrote Director of Operations, Mrs. Denise King-Tudor and requested that these two staff members (Ms. Moore and Ms. Ramawad) have no interaction with members of the public until the issue is properly ventilated at our next committee meeting.

As previously mentioned, Ms. Moore is frequently late and on many occasions has failed to clock in or out, ignoring the time management system altogether. Towards rectifying this, the HR department has been inconsistently applying disciplinary measures against tardy employees, including Ms. Moore who has been warned and written to multiple times.

If the code of conduct and expected disciplinary measures were upheld, it would have definitely resulted in Ms. Moore being terminated from CH&PA based on her poor attendance record. The question could be posited as to why this was not addressed further.

Sir, I cite these examples because they do not demonstrate the qualities one would expect to be present in a suitable candidate for the awarding of a scholarship. Ms. Moore would be representing not only herself and CH&PA in Korea but most importantly, she would be representing Guyana.

The Board of CH&PA has no partisan claim on the scholarship process, however, I do believe the Public Service Ministry has erred in its candidate selection and the Management Team has erroneously supported this, whilst knowing of Ms. Moore’s sub-par  performance at CH&PA.

Management should provide supporting documentation to the Board, defending their support for this scholarship. Additionally, all documentary evidence, if any, presented to the Public Service Ministry justifying the award should also be immediately presented.

In the event that Ms. Moore proceed on this scholarship, Central Housing & Planning Authority should not be responsible for paying any compensation or benefits to Ms. Moore.

Below is a description of the degree program to which Ms. Moore has been accepted:

The Master of Public Policy (MPP) program is designed to provide global perspective and professional expertise in public policy areas. The program is highly regarded both in and outside of Korea, particularly among developing nations and government officials. The faculty with outstanding research backgrounds and empirical knowledge offers a leading curriculum that integrates theory and practice.

Students are required to take one of the economic policy study areas, and may select additional study areas to cover 39 credits towards their graduation. The highly diverse student composition provides a unique educational environment. Both domestic and international students from all walks of life, including the government, the media, and NGOs are able to share ideas, knowledge and experiences, and build a dynamic global network.

It is questionable as to how this will provide a benefit to the CH&PA employment structure. Perhaps the HR Manager, and those responsible for the choice, could explain the decision. Here again, we can observe that actions and decisions are being taken with a view for personal gain, completely disregarding the true needs of the organisation.

Sir, to date, no one on the Board has been notified of the scholarship, Ms. Moore’s interest, her application or her acceptance. We’ve been told there is a memo of 20 December, 2016 from Ms. Moore from through her immediate supervisor Mrs. Denise King- Tudor to the management team and HR Manager Mrs. Benfield-Sanscoulotte.

Sir, unless the management team has sinister motives, this information would’ve been presented to the Board. We met three days after the above mentioned memo was circulated to the management team.

Seven days before Ms. Moore is scheduled to fly to South Korea we are yet to received any information on this scholarship and all related information.

I am a strong supporter of education and training, but this degree does not fit into the current mandate of the agency. There are elements of it that can be used of course, but it’s a poor choice for any employee of CH&PA, in my view.

Sir, fraud is a criminal offence. To save the Board and the country any unnecessary embarrassment, I strongly believe that the Board should advise the Public Service Ministry to put this scholarship on hold until the review of the Ministry of Finance auditors is completed.

If that cannot be done, it is my humble opinion that Ms. Moore should resign from CH&PA and give her service to another agency when she returns to Guyana.

All for your information and guidance.

 

Sincerely,

Mark Jacobs

 

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