Hedderwick gets all clear; DVML criticised

Guy Hedderwick.
Guy Hedderwick.
Independent auditors have given a former Forsyth Barr Stadium manager the all clear following claims of inappropriate spending, but the company running the venue has not escaped unscathed.

The findings came in a report by independent auditors Crowe Horwath, commissioned by the Dunedin City Council, which reviewed spending by former DVML commercial manager Guy Hedderwick.

That followed the release of documents to former Stop the Stadium president Bev Butler in March, showing Mr Hedderwick had accrued nearly $80,000 in travel costs and expenses while taking 51 work-related trips since 2010.

The information prompted a public spat between Ms Butler, who labelled the spending ''simply staggering'', and DVML finance manager Neville Frost, who defended the spending as legitimate and ''frugal''.

The Crowe Horwath report, released to the Otago Daily Times on Friday, highlighted instances where Mr Hedderwick had breached DVML spending guidelines using his company credit card.

However, it concluded there were ''no significant concerns'' relating to Mr Hedderwick's expenses and instead criticised DVML for failing to apply its own policies and procedures in some instances.

DVML chief executive Terry Davies said when contacted he accepted the findings, and the company was working with council staff to review and tighten its processes.

''We're taking that up with all of our team, to re-educate [staff] right through all of our policies and procedures.''

He confirmed Mr Hedderwick's part-time role as a DVML contractor based in Adelaide had ''come to an end'' last month.

However, the change reflected the appointment of Mr Davies, who had a background in content acquisition, and was not related to the review's findings, he said.

Mr Hedderwick, contacted in Australia, said he had not seen the final report but was pleased it gave his spending ''a clean bill of health''.

He defended DVML staff, saying they put in long hours ''with no thanks and very little acknowledgement for their efforts''.

''There is very little gratitude for the impossible task they are asked to do.''

The Crowe Horwath report, spanning 14 pages, detailed $144,879 in spending by Mr Hedderwick over four years, beginning in March 2010.

That included $108,263 in travel and entertainment expenses, higher than the original figure released to Ms Butler in March.

The report identified 118 transactions, together worth $3974.50, which were approved by DVML without the required invoices from Mr Hedderwick.

That was in breach of DVML policies, as were anther 71 transactions for flights and accommodation, worth $28,852.03, made without evidence of sign-off by DVML afterwards.

Mr Hedderwick had also accrued $1163.33 in work-related expenses on his DVML credit card while working as a contractor in Australia, despite company policy requiring cards to be handed back at the end of full-time employment.

The expenses were without supporting documentation, although credit card statements suggested no ''suspicious activity'', the report found.

The report also found only four instances where Mr Hedderwick's accommodation costs - while on trips to the United States, Singapore, Italy and Australia - exceeded $300 a night.

His daily spend on ''subsistence expenses'' - including meals and alcoholic drinks - averaged $59 per day, below the company's $75 daily limit.

Ms Butler said when contacted it was ''clear'' Mr Hedderwick ''did not comply with good business practice'', while spending sums released by Mr Frost following an official information request were understated.

''It is unacceptable for tens of thousands of dollars of public money not to be fully accounted for. Guy Hedderwick, Neville Frost and the [DVML] board all failed the ratepayers and should be held to account for their failures.''

Mr Davies said there was ''always going to be some things'' when spending was under such scrutiny.

However, he had been assured by Crowe Horwath there was nothing untoward in Mr Hedderwick's spending, and DVML's mistakes would be rectified.

''We acknowledge that that's a problem and we've got to get better.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

DVML

Dunedin Venues Mulls Liquidation. If only we were so lucky to read this headline in the ODT - we'd be even luckier if it actually happened.

DVML

Dodgy Venture Making Losses. The fact that it's sponsored by a financial management company only adds to the comedy.

Acronym

"Dunedin, Vast Majority Loses"

The All Clear?

"118 transactions ... without the required invoices".

"another 71 transactions ... made without evidence of sign-off by DVML".

"$1163.33 in work-related expenses on his DVML credit card  ... despite company policy requiring cards to be handed back".

"expenses were without supporting documentation".

The definition of "The All Clear" has obviously changed since I went to school.

DVML equals...

"Dunedin Vociferous Moaners' League"

DVML

Is  anyone really surprised at this stage that DVML has shown to be lax with costs and doesn't even seem to agree just what has been spent and why?  Dave's Vast Money Leak. (OK, perhaps other readers can come up with a better acronym..over to you).

Questions for Neville Frost

Why did you disclose "only" $80,000 of expenses and not the full $144,879 the auditors have identified? Isn't it your job to know such "trivial" matters?

Have you publicly apologised to Ms Butler and thanked her for drawing attention to the failures in the DVMLs systems?

When Mr Davies says you will be held to account for your failures, do you think he really means it? Or do you think it is as likely as a Dunedin Katy Perry concert?

The obvious questions?

What did Mr Hedderwick actually do on those 51 work-related trips exactly? Presumably it wasn't attracting events or we'd have had some.  And why was it neccessary for DVML to base someone in Adelaide in the first place? 

Given that they run at a constant loss and attract next to no events it is very difficult to see what DVML actually does to justify their continued existence.

By their fruits shall you know them. 

 

 

Crowe Horwath report

The report is now in public domain following its release by Dunedin City Council to Bev Butler and the Otago Daily Times. It's an easy read, fourteen pages in length. And although good on the dollar values and number of trips (as is the newspaper's report) it's a bit shamefully light on recommendations to DVML on how to claw back all money owed to it, and therefore city ratepayers - for what can usefully be described as indulgence.

Indeed, the receipts and invoices released through the LGOIMA request that prompted the audit accurately convey what indulgence for no return to DVML really means. [Abridged]

DVML spending

Gee, just as well I was sitting down when I read the above article, or I might have ended up on the floor. To draw a comparison I would say it is clear the company I work for is either exceedingly meticulous and over rigorous when it come to accountability, or DVML is excedingly relaxed when it comes to spending other people's money. I'll go with the latter. 

Now I'm just off to check my dictionary. Obviously my understanding of the word "frugal" has been incorrect all these years. [Abridged]   

Here we go again

Not a day goes by without more revalations re the staduim, DVML and the wasting of ratepayer funds. Mr Hedderwick says DVML staff are in his words doing "an impossible job" and of course as we all know they are. Mr Davies is hoping and gambling that the Newcastle v Sydney FC event will be a winner whilst on the other hand we have seen DVML lurch from one crisis to another. And what did Mr Hedderwick achieve for the $144,000 he spent in travel and overseas tours? What was his KPI? Seventy-one transactions that breached DVML policy? When are we going to see this mess finally cleaned up? The ratepayers of this city have had a gutsfull.

More questions

This still doesn't explain what we spent over $100,000 sending Hedderwick all over the world to do - what did we get for our $100,000? What on earth did sending him to Italy get for us? Other than even higher rates bills, of course.

And why was Hederwick still working for DVML last month? Didn't the ODT report a few months back that he'd moved to Adelaide and was now managing a stadium there?

Hang on a minute

Reading this article, is it not clear that back in March, Mr Frost told Bev Butler under an official LGOIMA request under which he is obliged to respond to accurately, that Mr Hedderwick spent about $80,000 on travel expenses, while the Crowe Harworth report finds that the spend was almost double that figure and that it contained over $38,000 where no approval had been granted or no evidence existed on what it was spent on?  In March of this year Mr Frost released a press statement reported in the ODT where he accused Bev Butler of "disgraceful behaviour" and said she was "lacking in any personal integrity".

It is hard to see how the ODT can headline that Mr Hedderwick has been given the "all clear", but it is impossible to see the justification for Mr Frost to have given Bev Butler the figures he did along with the personal accusations about her character he made in March.  The report states quite clearly that the figures Mr Frost supplied to Bev Butler were wrong.  But apart from all that, what seems to be forgotten is just what benefits accrued to DVML and the ratepayers from these multiple trips overseas to conferences and the like?  It seems that nobody is bothered about that, and I would have thought that an organisation so much under the spotlight for their lack of performance and for their need to be continually propped up by ratepayers, should have been looking very carefully at the "need" to travel the world.

It is past time for accountability within DVML and many other places. 

Stadium costs

It appears Ms Butler's attacks have moved on from 'process' to 'personal'.  Perhaps it's time to give it a rest.

ODT/directory - Local Businesses

CompanyLocationBusiness Type
Architectural EcologyDunedinArchitects & Architectural Designers
BESPOKE FRANCEDunedinTravel Agents
Golden Leaf InternationalDunedinBusiness Services
Laser Electrical Balclutha Electrical ContractorsBalcluthaElectricians