"The Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure"
Saturday, February 1, 2014 at 10:29AM
Bill Barclay

Sometimes I like to provide a link to interesting documents that I believe are worthy of a hour or two study on the beach, or over a cup of strong coffee. One such is a 2012 document produced by the US Department of Defense that has been brought to my attention. It goes by the eponymous name "The Encylopedia of Ethical Failure". 

It is quite mind-blowing that the state of affairs in the US military has reached this stage where dishonesty appears to have become all-encompassing, and deeply rooted at every level. It has only become this way because of vested interests that have  prevented investigation, prosecution and retribution since Sgt. Bilko was a boy. 

For those who are unaware of who Sgt. Bilko was - take a look on the net - Baby Boomers will recall the happy hours spent in front of the box watching his antics as he comprehensively 'bilked' the entire US Army.

I have provided the link simply because it behoves all of us to recognise the manner in which practices creep into the administration of all organisations in the absence of oversight and effective audit. Trust becomes the order of the day, and 'eternal vigilence', just a soppy term in the RSA motto.

The absence of any investigative journalism of any note in this country provides a fertile base in which firstly minor, and then major corruption flourishes, and make no mistake, this not only applies to large unwieldy organisations. And corruption is by means solely for financial benefit, though this is most often the case. It also relates to position, power, protection, cover-up and reputation.

We need to be constantly aware of the opportunity provided through countless activities of our Council for employees and elected members to take advantage of opportunity provided through the lack of oversight and effective audit. Take it as read that the Government agency responsible for the latter apears no longer able to provide the comfort which we have all assumed over the years. It is a toothless tiger, often ignorant and lackadaisical in its oversight, unwilling to take any additional action when matters are reported, and unwilling to see, hear or speak evil. In most cases, and until pushed into taking action, it is content sit on the sidelines.

The Auditor General's apology over Kaipara is an example of the pathetic depth of incompetence our Government Audit Office has reached. And its refusal to nail our Council on its consistent and totally unjustified refusal to recognise "internal" debt as debt is a further example - a failure that has led our Council to imagine that it had financial resources available that were simply not there - the chickens are now squawking at the door.  

I am unqualified, under- resourced, and incompetent to provide the level of oversight required even in this small District, but appear alone, with possibly one exception in taking the slightest interest in what is going on within the walls of our Council. And this is generally accomplished in the face of obstruction, suspicion and attempts to hide anything embarrassing behind the "public excluded" barrier.

Make no mistake, TCDC is far from alone in this endeavour, but the example over the "secret" deed entered into with Hoppers back in 2004 that has led ten years later to continuing and ever-increasing failings in regard to the Mercury Bay Sports Complex is instructive. If I have heard the expression "moving on" once in this regard, I have heard it a dozen times - that is the modern mantra for failing to seek redress. This should give everyone in this District pause - we are not squeaky clean, and the current administration provides no confidence that there is the will or competence required to prevent further massive wastage on dubious 'projects'. 

On the contrary, there are clear indications of unquestioning obedience to the will of the Mayor, and overweening deference by ambitious young staff who appear to have little or no idea of their primary responsibility.  Nick Smith's attempts to bring Councils back their core responsibilities has been constantly undermined by costly and mostly inadequately planned ventures into the unknown. Unfortunately, the opportunity for this was provided by the legislation prompted by Rodney Hide - later regretted. And Len Brown has provided the consequential dictatorial stereotype for others to follow. 

The potential for unintended consequences, including corrupt behaviour of one kind or another has been immeasurably enhanced. I hope that anyone who has concerns in this regard feels encouraged to ask pertinant questions at every opportunity. The moment elected officers feel that they are beyond oversight, the rot commences - that appears almost a given.  




Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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