Senators have unanimously passed a bill that would update Guam’s emergency procurement law, requiring more transparency and accountability.
“Guam’s emergency procurement law needed to be updated in order to effectively respond to threats facing our island and to enable transition to non-emergency procurement which can foster greater competition and lower costs to government,” said Sen. Sabina Perez, author of Bill 90-35, which provides a responsive and complete framework for utilizing emergency procurement.
The bill requires regular public information and extends the emergency procurement from 30 to 90 days, and a public hearing is required should procurement extend beyond 90 days.
Perez said this approach will provide local authorities with the tools needed to quickly respond to threats, while also ensuring proper planning and public transparency to avoid on-going, costly emergency procurements.
“Bill 90-35 improves transparency in the emergency procurement process, and provides greater safeguards to protect the public trust,” she said.
The bill would also allow for the use of emergency procurement when facing threats to the environment. Current Guam law only allows emergency procurement for “a threat to public health, welfare, or safety.” Bill 90-35 would extend emergency procurement authority to also protect the “health or safety of the environment.”
“It is critical we respond to environmental threats rapidly, transparently, and in full accordance with the law,” Perez said.
In 2007, the Guam Department of Agriculture reacted swiftly, requesting to purchase traps and equipment to eradicate newly introduced coconut rhinoceros beetle.
However, due to the delay in the government procurement process, six months passed before purchasing requests were authorized. During the six-month delay, rhino beetle spread far beyond its initial location, making eradication difficult.
Today, CRB is responsible for the death of countless coconut trees around the island and is now impacting the survival of another culturally significant tree, the fadang, thus severely damaging Guam’s ecosystem.
Additionally, Bill 90-35 has evolved with the needs that have arisen due to the pandemic. Current statute does not allow for the use of emergency procurement for temporary structures.
Bill 90-35 expands emergency procurement to include emergency construction works, which means emergency operation, or demolition of existing structures and real property improvements, as well as, building or assembly of temporary structures. By including emergency construction works, we can transform emergency procurement to respond quicker to meet our critical needs during this pandemic.
“Bill 90-35 will go a long way towards improving GovGuam’s ability to respond quickly to emergencies while protecting the public trust,” Perez said. “We must put these measures in place to protect our economy, our environment, and our people now and for generations to come.”