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Lawmakers demand explanation from USF board about hiring of CEO

Published:Thursday | November 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Parliamentary Reporter
Former chief executive officer of the Universal Service Fund, Suzette (Camile) Buchanan.

Twenty-four persons with either a PhD or a master's degree were not shortlisted to fill the post of chief executive officer (CEO) of the Universal Service Fund (USF), a report from the state-owned agency has revealed.

Instead, the board of directors of the USF, led by chairman Robert Lawrence, shortlisted and subsequently hired Suzette (Camile) Buchanan, whose qualifications were listed in the report as an "associate of science degree: major business studies; City and Guilds - certification; and a school-leaving certificate".

The position was advertised in 2016, and it was indicated that a master's degree was required.

Yesterday, the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament, which requested the information from the USF, made it clear that it would be demanding answers from the directors of the entity tasked with building out the nation's information technology infrastructure.

"My suggestion is that we invite the Universal Service Fund board to give us a written report as to who supervised, on a board level, the shortlistings and made the decisions as to arrive at hiring this person," said Dr Wykeham McNeill, the opposition member of Parliament who chairs the PAAC. "We have a responsibility to question the process."

Further, McNeill suggested that there should be consequences if the response from the Lawrence-led board does not leave members of the parliamentary committee satisfied that "procedures have been followed as they should".

"I believe that in seeking accountability, one of our recommendations must be to ask that the board, and the board chairman, resign because they would not have done their due diligence," he said.




However, Leslie Campbell, a government member of the PAAC, urged his colleagues to tread cautiously.

"Making a finding is one thing. For us to move to the point where we are making recommendations for the dismissal of boards, I don't believe that's within our remit, and we should really send it back to the Parliament for the Parliament to make a determination of what it will do in those circumstances because I certainly don't want the committee to be tainted as one which is really involved in [a] witch hunt or is taking on a political flavour," he suggested.

Earlier this year, Lawrence defended Buchanan's appointment, indicating that she excelled during the interview process and continued to demonstrate "astute leadership".

"The position was advertised, and following a competitive interview process, the best candidate was chosen by a panel, and so far, the board is satisfied with her work," he said at the time.

Buchanan stepped down as CEO of the USF in August but defended her tenure at the state-run agency.




1. Candidate Eight:

- Doctor of management in organisational leadership and information technology

- Master's in computer-based management information system

- Bachelor's in management studies and economics

- Diploma in project management

- Diploma in training

2. Candidate Five:

- MBA general management

- Bachelor, management and computing (Hons)

- Diploma, computer studies

- Post-graduate diploma public sector senior management development

3. Candidate Nine:

- Master's in business administration and general management

- Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (Hons)

- Associate of Science in management information system

- Certificate in supervisory management

- Certificate in computer studies




Candidate Ten:

- Associate of Science - major business studies

- City and Guilds - certification

- High-school leaving certificate