OPA: Transition Committee failed to follow rules for fund disbursements
The Governor and Lt. Governor’s Transition Committee has adequately accounted for the $691,000 fund raised and $665,000 in expenditures, but the Office of Public Accountability found several instances when it did not follow its standard operating procedure for the fund disbursements.
According to the OPA’s report on transition fund, the committee was inconsistent in its disbursement practices.
OPA said Transition Committee submitted its report on donations 75 days past the deadline, thus acting “beyond its 30-day limit.”
The committee attributed the delayed submission to “human error.” It also said the transfer of excess funds was not made until 173 days after the deadline as they were waiting for outstanding checks to clear before closing the account.
In addition to the inaugural ceremony and celebration, the funds were used for renovations, equipment, furniture, and other costs determined to be related to the transition by the Transition Committee. More guidance is needed in the law to determine appropriateness and necessity of what counts as transition-related expenditures.
Acting as an “operating agency of the government,” the Transition Committee could have followed Guam Procurement Law. However, this is not specifically required in the law and the Transition Committee stated it was not practical for them to follow the procurement law because the transition period was in a tight timeframe.
“As this was the first ever audit of any gubernatorial administration’s Transition Fund, the findings and recommendations can help improve the accountability and transparency of future transition funds. It also cautions future Transition Committees of their fiduciary responsibility to ensure that transition funds are spent properly and reported timely,” OPA said.
OPA made three recommendations to the Guam Legislature including to: (1) specifically state whether transition funds are subject to Guam Procurement Law, (2) require the transition report to include a listing of fixed assets that will be transferred to the incoming administration, and (3) require the financial reports to be submitted to OPA.
As a matter of full disclosure, the Public Auditor recused himself from this audit because of an identified impairment in appearance due to familiarity. The Public Auditor did not participate in this audit.