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  • By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Bloated bureaucracy: Same old story

Useless commissions, redundant agencies, overstaffed boards identified

In 2012, the Guam Legislature created a Modernization and Rightsizing Commission of the Government of Guam, whose job is to streamline the government, abolish antiquated agencies, and bring GovGuam “into the 21st century.” Seven years later, the commission accomplished nothing, winding up among the list of useless government entities that collect dust.

Streamlining is an occasional buzzword in government. But the fervor always fizzles out. Several discussions — bills filed, and all — on consolidating redundant agencies were shelved. Meanwhile, creating new agencies, either through legislation or executive orders, seems like a government hobby.

The 2018 Transition Committee commissioned by the Leon Guerrero-Tenorio administration found approximately 112 boards, commissions, and councils, with a combined total of approximately 945 statutorily required members for all boards, commissions and councils. Currently, there are 632 sitting board members and 313 vacant or expired board positions.

“The GovGuam is the largest employer of our island’s labor force. Since its inception, it has evolved into an unwieldy bureaucracy based on an industrial model rooted in the early 19th century,” states the transition report.

Compounding the incredible size of bureaucracy is the restrictive attitude. Getting things done in government is exactly how Kakfa described it: a seemingly endless labyrinth that is difficult to navigate.

“This type of organizational structure is often slow to move, compartmentalized in its formation and heavily reliant on incremental output, which locks employees into a ‘job description’ mentality,” the report said.

The committee underscored the need for transformation that requires “radical changes in attitude and behavior.” And the committee is optimistic. “Many GovGuam employees are open-minded and eager to upgrade their skills,” it said.

In yet another attempt to reform bureaucracy, the transition committee released its report, which found that the chaos was worse than imagined. “Most surprising to subcommittee was the fact that no one person or department had a list of all boards and commissions required under Guam law, a list of all current board members, their expiration terms, and other information that could enable anyone to see, at a glance, who are current board members,” the report said.

The Guam Legislature had a list of only those board members confirmed by the current Legislature. The Calvo Administration’s Legal Office had a partial list of current board members. Subcommittee members contacted the various boards and commissions, only to find that most employees did not know whom their board members were.

The committee recommends the abolition of 16 boards and commissions that have not met in many years and have outlived their missions. These commissions remain in existence despite the enactment of P.L. 26-119, which requires the abolition of board, commission, council or oversight body “that has not met in the last 12 months.

Some commissions, boards and councils have yet to be empaneled due to difficulties in recruiting due to several factors: individuals do not want to submit financial, private information; they do not want to undergo what may be grueling confirmation hearings; there is an insufficient pool of knowledgeable, experienced individuals willing or able to serve on boards or commissions; and the time commitment required for such service is daunting.

“For these reasons, many of the boards and commissions lack appointments, they lack a quorum, and they haven’t convened in years,” the committee noted.

The committee also recommends the downsizing the representation in many entities, which have “ridiculously high numbers.”

“In short, this outdated bureaucracy breeds inefficiency, wastes resources, diminishes the potential of human capital, generates tedious procedures and counter-productive leadership hierarchies. Mission achievement and customer service suffer,” the report said.

Recommended for abolition

Commission on the Status of Women

Council on Post-Secondary Institution Certification

Guam eHealth Collaborative

Guam First Commission Advisory Council

Guam Grand Prix Commission

Guam Highway Commission

Guam Multi-Purpose Community

Stadium Complex Commission

Guam Planning Council Guam

Procurement Advisory Council

Guam War Reparation Commission

Guam Workforce Investment Board

Guma Honra Commission

Komitea Para Tiyan

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Human & Civil Rights Commission

Veterans Cemetery Task Force

Recommended for consolidation

  1. Alcohol Control Board; Guam Gaming Commission; Guam Mixed Martial Arts Commission; and Guam Unarmed Combat Commission

  2. Department of CHamoru Affairs; and CHamoru Language and the Teaching of the History and Culture of the Indigenous People of Guam; and Kosas Board of Advisors; and Kottura Board of Advisors; and Historic Preservation Review Board

  3. Commission on Decolonization for the Implementation and Exercise of CHamoru Self Determination; CHamoru Registry Board; and Decolonization Registry Board

  4. Council on Mental Health and Substance aka the Advisory Council; and Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center Advisory Council; and Guam Mental Health Planning Council; and Prevention Education and Community Empowerment (PEACE) Council

  5. Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities (DISID); and Guam Developmental Disabilities Council; and Guam System of Care Council for Children with Serious Emotional Disturbance

  6. Guam Ancestral Lands Commission; and Guam Land Trust Commission

  7. Guam Council on Youth Affairs; and Guam Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee

  8. Guam Health Collaborative; and Guam Health Coordinating Council

  9. Northern Guam Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors; and Southern Guam Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Directors

Following boards and commissions considered overstaff and the corresponding number of members

Agricultural Board of Commissioners(9 plus ex-officio members)

Board of Allied Health Examiners (11)

Commission on Decolonization for the Implementation

and Exercise of CHamoru Self-Determination (11)

Guam Banking and Insurance Board (9)

Guam Board of Nurse Examiners (9)

Guam Developmental Disabilities Council (28)

Guam Early Learning Council (22)

Guam eHealth Collaborative (13)

Guam Emergency Medical Service Commission (18)

Guam Historic Preservation Review Board (10)

Guam Invasive Species Council (10)

Guam Memorial Hospital Authority Board of Trustees (10)

Guam Multi-Purpose Community Stadium Complex Commission (10)

Guam Ocean and Fisheries Management Council (9)

Guam Procurement Advisory Council (12)

Guam Product Seal Task Force (15)

Guam Public Library System Board of Directors (7)

Guam Real Estate Commission (7)

Guam Science and Technology Committee (14)

Guam Unarmed Combat Commission (10)

Guam Visitors Bureau (13)

Guam Workforce Investment Board (31)

Hagåtña Restoration & Redevelopment Authority (18)

Northern Guam Soil and Water Conservation District

and Southern Guam Soil and Water Conservation District (10)

Rehabilitation Advisory Council for Dept. of Vocational

Rehabilitation aka Guam State Rehabilitation Council (13)

Serve Guam Commission (21)

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