Guam governor: Emergency bill to delay rather than speed up school repairs
By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has vetoed a bill that would authorize the Guam Department of Education to fix typhoon-damaged school facilities using the emergency procurement method, a mandate that the agency is already sanctioned to do under existing law.
Rather than facilitate a smooth process, Bill 136-37 would inhibit the education department’s procurement transactions and further compromise the timely opening of classes in August, the governor said in her June 30 veto message to the legislature.
Under existing law, GDOE is authorized to use the emergency procurement process as long as emergency conditions exist. Leon Guerrero noted that the aftermath of Typhoon Mawar warranted the application of emergency procurement.
Bill 136-37 sought to set a 120-day limit on the department’s use of emergency procurement. The governor said this timeframe would hinder the agency’s ability to continue its projects “even if critical needs continue to exist beyond that time.”
Leon Guerrero also frowned on the bill’s reporting requirement, saying it was not mandated by the Guam Procurement Code.
“Bill 136-37 requires GDOE to make a report within five days of an award and submit its report to the speaker of the legislature,” the governor said. “These additional requirements will not help, but rather hinder, GDOE from accomplishing its emergency procurements.”
Judith Won Pat, acting superintendent of the education department, warned that Sen. Chris Barnett’s Bill 136-37, if enacted, would “makeGDOE's emergency procurement more burdensome and make it more difficult for GDOE to make the necessary repairs to open the schools for the next school year.”
Prior to the passage of Bill 136-37, Substitute Bill 29-37 lapsed into law without the governor’s signature.
The substitute bill, now Public Law 37-4, set strict timelines for the education department to comply with the Department of Public Health and Social Services' sanitation rules and regulations by the start of the next school year.
The aggressive timelines were “impracticable in light of known operational barriers within the agencies,” the governor said. “Typhoon Mawar has caused significant damage to our schools, further exacerbating the impracticability of the timelines established by P.L. 37-4.”