Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Bad call! - USF admits executive director hired daughter for more than a year

Published:Saturday | July 14, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Robert Lawrence

The Universal Service Fund (USF) is moving to close policy loopholes as it has been revealed that Executive Director Camille Buchanan had hired her daughter for more than a year to work as a social media manager.

The USF falls under the Ministry of Science and Technology for which embattled minister Andrew Wheatley has oversight.

Chairman of the USF board, Robert Lawrence, told The Gleaner that Buchanan's daughter, who had been volunteering at the fund for a month before being employed, received a salary of $80,000 per month. He disclosed that another long-standing employee also had her daughter employed to the fund since November 2017.

 

NO SPECIFIC GUIDELINES

 

However, in seeking to justify the questionable employment, Lawrence said that the practice had been in place and there were no specific guidelines. The two employees eventually resigned sometime in May before the matter was brought to the board's attention.

Lawrence contended that although Buchanan had sought advice on the hiring of her daughter and was told it was permissible, it was a "bad judgment call".

In the aftermath, the board reprimanded the executive director in a strongly worded letter, but did not consider the matter serious enough to fire her.

"No, no, we did not discuss dismissal because we took into consideration the whole situation and also the fact that the visibility of the USF has been significantly increased over the period," Lawrence stated when quizzed about the future of Buchanan.

He reported that the board had moved to implement five policies addressing procurement, human resources, projects, finance and treasury. Specifically, he mentioned the board's intent on examining and crafting policy surrounding the hiring of family members whether for summer employment or otherwise.

"We are satisfied that we dealt [adequately] with the matter and we will be looking at others," Lawrence vowed. "Governance is an ever evolving issue, and as we move along we have to address issues," he added.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com