Horowhenua Council Mystery

Horowhenua Council CEO, David Clapperton

Why is CEO’s signature missing from ‘sensitive spending’ policy?

by Veronica Harrod 

Horowhenua correspondent

Unanswered questions remain as to why all of Horowhenua District Council’s general managers signed the 2016 sensitive expenditure policy except chief executive David Clapperton.
Mr Clapperton’s refusal to sign the policy was revealed in the ‘Peer Review of Sensitive Expenditure Internal Audit Horowhenua District Council’ report that the council contracted KPMG to complete after an Internal Audit (IA) described Mr Clapperton’s practice of blocking emails as extremely high risk.
According to a copy of the policy included in the KPMG review, if council officers did not adhere to the sensitive expenditure policy it, “may amount to misconduct or serious misconduct by the staff member which may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.”

The policy, which KPMG says was developed to align with Office of Auditor General public sector guidelines, is scheduled for review this month.

 

Policy covers credit cards, air travel and other spending
The sensitive spending policy mainly covers credit card use, fuel cards, travel and accommodation expenditure, air travel, meals and accommodation while travelling, motor vehicles and taxis, entertainment and hospitality expenditure, tipping, koha, gifts and communications technology.

Specific areas includes a $5000 credit card held by Mr Clapperton and a $10,000 credit card the mayor holds. The KPMG report says that Mr Feyen has not used his credit card , and that Mayor

New Mayor, Michael Freyen, wants to keep public housing
Horowhenua District Mayor, Michael Freyen

Feyen has not signed off on Mr Clapperton’s credit card use.

Included in the conclusion and recommendations KPMG says the council should stop “quarantining/vetting of emails…..to develop a robust process in order to protect all staff and elected officials health and safety.”
In the report KPMG also stated it was “not able to determine” the risk associated with the vetting of emails, a process, “implemented by [former] mayor Brendan Duffy and executed by chief executive David Clapperon.”
Duffy email to selected councillors
Former Mayor Brendan Duffy

The KPMG report includes an email Mr Duffy sent all councillors, except then councillors Michael Feyen and Ross Campbell, on April 30, 2015 stating that, ”

  • “You will be aware that a recent email sent to all staff is considered to have been less than appropriate.
  • “I have discussed this in detail with the CEO, and taken advice. We have in recent times received messages from both Michael Feyen and Ross Campbell that are frankly just unacceptable.
  • “As elected members we have responsibilities to be respectful, and to understand where the boundaries are in terms of fair and reasoned communications. Technically, I am the employer of the CEO, not individual elected members.
  • “I have a responsibility to protect my employee, and the employees of the organisation. I’m advising that I have arranged for a block to be placed on all email traffic coming into this building from both Michael Feyen and Ross Campbell immediately. This means that ANY MESSAGE will need to be approved for release by the CEO or myself. The measure will remain in place for the duration of this term of council.”
Although Mr Duffy refers to the email sent to all staff as “less than appropriate” and “unacceptable” he does not refer to the email he is referring to as threatening, abusive or offensive.
Email behind the ‘blocking’
A copy of the email that resulted in councillor Campbell and Feyen being blocked is available here: http://www.horowhenua.org.nz/2017/08/21/e-mail-fiasco/
KPMG also state, “We have seen emails which ‘could’ be considered offensive or abusive in nature by a recipient.”
Also KPMG stated, “Mr Duffy’s email indicated the measure will remain in place for his remainder of council. However, it is our understanding due to the continued nature of the emails the practice was continued into the new term.”
Mr Clapperton has reportedly refused to release the blocked emails due to “privacy concerns.”