OPA reports an increase in Guam education agency's expenditures
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Guam Department of Education’s expenditures jumped by $36.4 million, from $346.7 million in 2021 to $383.1 million in 2022, largely due to an increase in personnel costs, according to the Office of Public Accountability. The OPA reported a $16.4 million increase in salaries and benefits, $10.7 million increase in supplies, $3.2 million increase in benefits, and $4.7 million increase in power. The audit found that the overall number of GDOE employees increased by 28, of which locally funded employees decreased by 96, federally funded employees increased by 126, and employees. The increase in federally funded employees was mainly due to the availability of Covid -19 relief funding. Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) II and ARP funds were utilized to hire limited-term, full-time educational, professional, administrative, and technical personnel to support the needs of teachers and students in addressing academic learning loss due to pandemic restrictions and providing outreach services to underrepresented families. The department’s total revenues increased by $43.8 million, from $347.1 million in FY 2021 to $390.8 million in FY 2022. The increase was largely due to a $44.1 million increase in federal grant funding. In FY 2022, GDOE expended $44.5M in American RescuePlan funding and also received$3M more in grants from USDOE than in FY 2021.
OPA said increases in federal grants were offset by a decrease in monies from the U.S. Department of Interior of $870000 and USDOE of $79,000. Local appropriations from the government of Guam decreased by $1.9 million.
The Guam Department of Education received unmodified opinions from independent auditors, Ernst & Young LLP on its fiscal year 2022 financial statements and compliance for major federal programs.
"This marked the 10th straight year GDOE received a clean opinion on its compliance for major federal programs," OPA said.
Auditors, however, identified two significant deficiencies and one material weakness in GDOE’s internal control over financial reporting and compliance. Auditors also identified one material weakness and six significant deficiencies in GDOE’s internal control over compliance on major federal programs.
This resulted in $2,000 in questioned costs. GDOE remains a high-risk grantee with the U.S. Department of Education for the past 20 years.
Erik Swanson, education superintendent, said the results of the audit "confirmed GDOE's high standards of financial accountability and transparency.
"This is a great achievement for our department and I'm committed to maintaining this level of excellence and enhancing our financial
management practices," he said.
In 2022, GDOE regained control over most of the fiscal functions that were previously handled by the third-party fiduciary agent.
The United State of Education (USEd) reduced the scope of the TPFA from 22 to four responsibilities and required GDOE to take over all purchase order functions within its own financial management system.
The end of the TPFA requirement was anticipated to have been lifted as of Nov. 1.
"This means that GDOE can save local funds that were spent on the TPFA contract, which amounted to $33 million in the past decade and $1.5 million in the last year," GDOE said in a press statement.
Officials said the fund savings can now be used to support the school district directly.