May 19, 2013 News
As the debate continues to rage over Government’s use of polygraph tests on public servants, the administration has not ruled out placing departmental heads and other top officials in the hot seat also.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon, on Friday said that the use of polygraphy is being developed but targeting only employees in the frontline, revenue-earning state entities.
“What we are proposing is integrity testing and its applications in specific areas as we mature in the use of polygraphy.”
A polygraph, popularly referred to as a lie detector, measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity while the subject is asked and answers a series of questions. The belief is that deceptive answers will produce physiological responses that can be differentiated from those associated with non-deceptive answers.
More than 60 law enforcement workers have been fired or not have their contracts renewed after failing or refusing to take the polygraph tests. These include employees of the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU) and Police Anti Narcotics Branch.
More than 20 employees of the Guyana Energy Authority (GEA), including fuel markers and inspectors, have also been let go recently because of the polygraphs.
The use of polygraph testing as a means to test an employee’s honesty is a controversial one with arguments by some that it is not conclusive enough to use as a basis for firing someone.
According to Wikipedia, US federal government agencies such as the FBI and the CIA and many police departments such as the LAPD use polygraph examinations to interrogate suspects and screen new employees.
There have been calls for the tests to be administered also to Government Ministers and Department Heads.
Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur has reportedly offered to take the test, Luncheon disclosed Friday.
The use of polygraphy is not something unusual across the Caribbean, the spokesman said.
Through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, a US initiative to improve security around the globe, Guyana has been utilizing the polygraph system.
It has to be taken to higher level to include other officials, but this is “incremental”, Luncheon said.
“Our attention is first and foremost in revenue protection and law enforcement.”
Guyana has been conducting polygraph tests since 2009.
The government official, who sits as the Cabinet Secretary also noted that the development of polygraph tests could very well see it being administered to higher up in the government echelons.
“But it is a process that will evolve working with regional and international partners to give what we want to get at the end of the day. We are saying we have not met there yet.”
Polygraph tests and corruption have been closely linked with international reports on Guyana indicating there is a worrying perception that corruption runs deep.
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