Once again, Guam governor asked to report emergency procurements
Updated: Jan 24
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Two Republican senators have asked Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero to produce documents listing the administration's expenditures and procurements made under her emergency authority during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sens. Frank Blas and Chris Duenas noted that Public Law 27-06 requires the governor to file a report of all expenditures authorized by emergency declaration within ﬁve days of such transactions. The report must be submitted to the Office of Public Accountability.
"Now with the public auditor raising issue that his office has not been able to get information either, Sen. Duenas and I felt it necessary to request that copies of documentation pertaining to all procurement performed during the state of emergency be delivered to our offices and the Office of Public Accountability,” Blas said.
The governor first declared a state of public health emergency in March 2020 following the first outbreak of Covid-19 on Guam. The Covid-related public health emergency had been constantly extended each month until it was lifted on Jan. 6.
While lifting the Covid-linked public health emergency, the governor issued another emergency declaration related to "food security."
An emergency status authorizes the governor to skip the regular procurement process to expedite actions such as purchasing goods and services.
"There have been questions on what was purchased and why it was bought that we haven’t been able to get answers to," Blas said.
At the height of the Covid pandemic, the governor used her emergency powers to enter into contracts with hotels that were used as quarantine facilities and to hire government employees.
In earlier audit reports, the OPA noted that some transactions were marred by conflicts of interest.
Blas and Duenas noted that for over two years, several members of the legislature have been asking for detailed information relative to the spending that occurred during the state of emergency but their demand was ignored.
"Now with the public auditor himself reporting his concern of the violation of Public Law 27-06 and the non-compliance of EO 2020-03, this concern has been heightened to a level that demands immediate action," they added.
"We were hoping that the governor’s office would be transparent and cooperative enough to share this information so that we can assure the community that the purchases were done above board and in the greater interest of the public," Blas said.
"Unfortunately, not only did the legislature not receive the information, but the public auditor has not received the information,” he added.
Duenas, for his part, said the governor's failure to provide the procurement documents breached her own directive,
“One of the directives in Executive Order 2020-03 clearly states that departments and agencies are to keep documentation on all emergency expenses authorized during the state of emergency for inspection by the legislature and public auditor, so there was no reason why it could not have been provided when we requested them,” Duenas said.
The senators have asked that the requested documents be delivered by noon on Jan. 27.