By Pacific Island Times News Staff
CSC: Port Authority followed rules when it hired convicted felons
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
The Guam Civil Service Commission unanimously ruled Tuesday that the Port Authority of Guam was in compliance with all rules and laws when it hired employees who had criminal convictions.
The ruling came after the CSC Board of Commissioners voted 5 to 0 to adopt the Post Audit Staff Investigation Report affirming that the Port Authority of Guam followed its personnel rules and regulations on hiring practices and procedures related to convicted felons and prohibition for sex offenders.
The board said PAG’s hiring practices for employees who disclosed a criminal conviction on their Suitability Determination form that were hired in fiscal 2017 through February 2021 was in compliance with applicable rules, regulations and law.
Sen. Joanne Brown said she was not surprised by the board's ruling "considering the threshold of hiring Port employees has been lowered and can be likened to the gates at the Port Authority of Guam being left unmanned and unlocked."
The former PAG general manager noted that the audit of employee records focused mainly on the employee’s Suitability Determination (SD) form from PAG and the employee’s disclosure of any convictions for violations of the law.
“This audit relied heavily on the disclosure of information by the employee and the assumption that PAG had responsibly executed its due diligence of criminal background checks, both locally and federally, of every employee,” Brown said.
“Everyone deserves a second chance to better their lives and be contributing members to the community; however, the rehabilitation of convicted felons, sex offenders, and individuals charged with official misconduct shouldn’t be at the expense of ratepayers and taxpayers, more importantly, these individuals shouldn’t be rewarded employment with the government of Guam," Brown said.
The CSC post audit was prompted by a Jan. 28 complaint filed by Sen. Telena C. Nelson, who asked the board to look into PAG's hiring practices, specifically involving employees with any criminal conviction hired between fiscal 2017 and Feb. 16, 2021.
PAG General Manager Rory J. Respicio maintained that these allegations were baseless, and cooperated fully with the CSC.
"We would like to thank the Civil Service Commission for their Post Audit findings which revealed that the Port Authority of Guam did not violate any rule or statute relative to a complaint filed by Sen. Telena Nelson," Respicio said.
"All the time and resources at the behest of our legislative oversight chair and others have been an unfortunate experience for us at the Port," he added.
"We hope that this ruling provides Sen. Nelson with a renewed commitment to support our Port employees, especially during this pandemic where we have witnessed their value in keeping the supply chain flowing into our island and our region,” said Respicio.
In a separate statement, Nelson said: "I respect the decision of the Civil Service Commission and I thank them for their due diligence, on this matter. Our port employees have worked tirelessly throughout the years and during the Pandemic. I am confident that they will continue their commitment and service by upholding the highest standard for the people of Guam.”