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Open letter to Waikato DHB Member to Chair

Open letter to Waikato DHB Member to Chair regarding handling of CEO's expenses

Dear Bob

I am concerned at your reported comments in the media – particularly those in the Waikato Times - where you are reported to have stated that you “have the full confidence of the Board”, in relation to the issues arising from the CEO’s expenses,

As this issue was not raised with the full Board, there is no basis for you saying this, and it is not accurate.

I have already raised in writing a number of concerns about the processes, and your role in them, relating to control of, and approval for, the CEO’s expenses and related matters.

Explicitly, I don’t have confidence in the way you have handled this issue, for the following reasons:
The CEO is required to file an annual expenses return by August of each year. As you are the only person with the authority to approve the CEO’s expenses, I believe – with or without staff reports – you ought to have known that this had not been done from August 2015 onwards, and ought to have been taking action over this failure from that time – almost two years before you informed the Board of the concerns.
A second annual CEO expenses return was required to be filed in August 2016, but was not.
A former member of Parliament has publicly stated that she met with you prior to the Nigel Murray’s formal appointment to warn you of issues with Murray’s work as a CEO as his previous place of employment. She has stated that you rejected her warning, but would ‘keep an eye on the matter’ (my paraphrasing).
You have not required any report back from any of the overseas travel for Conferences and other matters that you authorised for the CEO, or were taken without authorisation. Such action would have demonstrated that you were ‘keeping an eye on’ the CEO.
When the 2015 and 2016 CEO expenses reports were finally filed late around Xmas 2016, you did not take any action to check that they were accurate or complete. It appears from public comments you have now made that those reports are very likely to have included unauthorised expenditure that is now going to be claimed back from the former CEO. Irregularities in these reports could have been found and addressed 9 months ago, had you fulfilled what I believe is your obligation to be on top of the CEO’s expenses, on behalf of the Board.
The fact that the Xmas 2016 media article you refer to highlighted the very high quantum of expenses set out in those returns, ought to have triggered checking or investigative action by yourself. That fact that you did not take any action at that point – that you have informed us about – has put the Board in some jeopardy, and perhaps the whole DHB organisation.
From information you have now given to the public, it seems that you informed the Ministry of Health (and perhaps other Government entities) of the staffs concerns about the CEO’s expenses some three weeks or more before you informed the Board. While I have no problem with you keeping the Ministry informed, I believe the Board should have been immediately informed of the information you had received – the Board is not an afterthought, it is a legally responsible part of the processes that ought to have been followed.
Following your first provision of information to the Board about the CEO’s expenses issue in July this year, the process being followed has not been made clear at several steps, until myself and other Board members have asked questions and requested responses.

I have no problem with the way you handled matters at the meeting on 5th October, and I willingly participated in that particular part of the process, and excluded myself from the part of the process in order to help ‘clear the path’ for the Board; but I have problems with the way the matter was handled, or otherwise, for the two years prior to 5th October, and with your public statement on 5th October that you had the full confidence of the Board.

I agree that the Office of the Auditor-General report into Board processes will help give answers going forwards, from my past experience with that organisation, and from the questions I asked of them at a recent meeting, I do not think they will cover everything, and I also look forward to their explanation as to why they did not note that a requirement such as the annual filing of the CEO’s expenses had not been filed for two years in a row, now three.

Yours sincerely

Dave Macpherson
Waikato DHB Member

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