Do contract employees qualify for government retirement program?


By Pacific Island Times News Staff


An audit of PBS Guam found that employees of the government-run TV network did not participate in the Government of Guam Retirement Fund last year.


The Office of Public Accountability said Guam law requires PBS Guam employees' membership in the government retirement program "unless they are contract employees.


On Sept. 30, 2021, PBS Guam management executed personnel actions that categorized PBS Guam employee, whose salaries and benefits are paid with grants from the corporation for public broadcasting, as contract employees.


"Contract employees are not treated as independent contractors," OPA said in audit report released today. "The term contract employee has typically meant an independent contractor relationship."


However, OPA said the law did not define the term "contract employee."


Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz recommended PBS Guam seek legal opinion on what constitutes as a contract employee and if they employees qualify for participation in the Guam Retirement Fund.

Contract employees are not treated as independent contractors. The auditors recommended that PBS Guam seek a legal opinion on what constitutes a contract employee and if the aforementioned employees are qualified for the participation of the GGRF.


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The audit rendered a clean opinion on PBS Guam’s financial statements.


"PBS Guam ended fiscal year FY 2021 with a negative net position of $632,000, from last year’s negative net position of $1.84 million," the report said.


OPA noted that PBS Guam has been able to put itself in a positive position amid the Covid-19 pandemic by shifting its strategic directive to pivot its fundraising efforts from the traditional underwriting and community financial support to creative and production work. "PBS Guam was able to successfully obtain funding from the Department of Education’s Education Stabilization Funds in order to support PBS University and PBS University Higher Learning for this fiscal year," OPA said.


OPA also noted that PBS Guam improved its capital assets by upgrading its equipment and infrastructure.


"All of its building air conditioners have been replaced and a new security system was installed for added building protections," OPA said.


"Many of the decades-old cracks and leaks on the roof have also been repaired and treated with new paint for better insulation and power consumption. During 2021, PBS Guam was able to replace its vehicle fleet with three new vehicles, enhance its internet services, and replace or upgrade its staff computers and editing. Lastly, PBS Guam has procured new equipment necessary for its national programming broadcasts." PBS Guam posted a total revenue of $3.2 million, showing an increase of $1.62 million, or 99 percent, compared to $1.64 million in FY 2020.


"This is largely attributed to the increase in contribution and other, totaling $1.67 million compared to $299,000 in FY 2020," OPA said.


"This increase was also attributed to a $1.5 million grant that PBS Guam received from the Guam State Clearing House in FY 2021. PBS Guam received $455,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act, which are to be used to maintain PBS Guam’s public media station’s programming and services impacted by the pandemic."


PBS Guam’s overall expenses of $2.05 million increased by $133,000 (or 7 percent), compared to $1.91 million in FY 2020.


"This was primarily due to the increases in Program Broadcasting by $67,000 (or 15 percent) and contractual services by $231,000 (or 121 percent)," OPA said.

Other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liability at $1.49 million Under the OPEB Plan, also known as the GovGuam Group Health Insurance Plan, the Government of Guam provides medical, dental, and life insurance benefits to retirees, spouses, children, and survivors.


As of FY 2021, PBS Guam’s total OPEB liability stood at $1.49 million, which includes its proportionate share in GovGuam’s OPEB liability of $2.52 billion. For the year, OPEB expense amounted to $125K,000."


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