There are a thousand good reasons for open government and open meetings and — heaven forbid! — open dialogue.

We saw a handful of them this week when a senior civil servant appeared before a Public Accounts Committee.

To tell the truth, it doesn’t seem like Marc Telemaque said very much in his 90 minutes before the committee.

Questioned about the huge cost overruns and conflicts of interest in building the new Transport Control facilities on North Street, he didn’t say that the project was bungled or that the public was ripped off.

In fact, he sounded pretty defensive.

But the former Permanent Secretary for Transportation actually acknowledged many of the Auditor General’s criticisms levelled in a hard-hitting Auditor General’s report. He said, repeatedly, that “things could have been done differently”.

Mr. Telemaque is a former Cabinet Secretary and is now Permanent Secretary for National Security.

It was while he was serving as Permanent Secretary for Transportation that the new North Street facility was built.

Originally budgeted at $5.3 million, it ended up costing $15.23 million. That’s a pretty hideous example of overspending, especially when you consider that it’s a pretty basic building doing a pretty basic job, built on a flat piece of land that the Government already owned.

It addition to squandering money that could be better used on other things — low-cost housing or healthcare, perhaps? — the project vividly illustrated much that has gone wrong, repeatedly, with Government building projects in recent years.

Put plain and simply, projects haven’t been properly tendered and haven’t been properly supervised, and have left in their wake a big hole in the Government budget and the stench of corruption in the air.

We didn’t really need the Public Accounts Committee meeting to tell us these things: They are known by pretty much everybody in the country already.

But what the Public Accounts Committee did reveal to us is that there exists in the higher levels of government a glimmer of recognition that things are wrong and shouldn’t be repeated in the future.

It showed the public that important players in Government aren’t necessarily dismissing the reports and criticisms of the Auditor General as racist rantings — as Cabinet Ministers have often one in the past.

Politics, of course, is often theatre. When politicians seem to ignore a problem or dismiss their critics, it doesn’t always mean they haven’t listened and vowed to change their ways.

But the TCD outrage followed a long list of similar ones — the Berkeley Institute and the new police station/courthouse combo come quickly to mind, as does the Dockyard cruise ship terminal.

So by the evidence of its actions, our Government hasn’t rehabilitated itself in the least. It has been a chronic and unrepentant recidivist.

But there’s always the hope that, somewhere beneath the surface lurks a tinge of remorse, and a resolution to do better next time.

The Public Accounts Committee will, I hope, keep pushing hard to get to the bottom of the TCD business, and keep pushing hard to make sure this kind of abuse of public trust and public money doesn’t keep happening.

But imagine, for a moment, what would be happening — or rather, not happening — if the Public Accounts Committee still met behind closed doors.

Citizens would get the impression that the whole mess had just been forgotten about. They would have no reason to know that there was still interest among politicians to figure out what went wrong, and how we can prevent it from happening again.

They would get the impression that the civil service really didn’t care — that they didn’t give a fig for whatever the Auditor General reported, and weren’t the least bit bothered if happened again.

The Public Accounts Committee has come up short on clear-cut answers to the TCD scandal.

But their work, and the testimony of those like Mr. Telemaque who have come before it, have at least given citizens a glimmer of hope that criticism is being heard, that lessons are being learned, and that such outrageous abuse is less likely to happen in future.