Underfunded and understaffed, Guam OPA is burdened with 79 additional tasks
By Gina T. Reilly
In the past six years since the Office of Public Accountability’s last review of its legislative mandates, 79 additional mandates have been added to the roster of its tasks without a corresponding funding increase, according to Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz.
“These mandates are in addition to our primary roles and responsibilities of conducting performance audits, having oversight over financial audits, and adjudicating procurement appeals,” Cruz said.
In total, the number of OPA’s legislative mandates has increased to 120, the agency said in a report released today.
“While the office recognizes the legislature’s prerogative to expand the OPA and other government agencies’ roles and responsibilities, these mandates are difficult to address without time, staffing, and resources,” OPA said.
Of the 79 new mandates, the OPA said it was able to close 67, or 85 percent.
However, Cruz said, the mandates were “determined not to be the best use of the OPA’s limited resources based on our professional judgment.”
Some of the mandates required audits of specific activities, whose deadlines have lapsed, while others are mandates that either have been repealed by the legislature or are already defunct.
79 additional mandates are broken down as follows: • 12 required the OPA to conduct audits; • 42 required the OPA to provide oversight, approve, or conduct a specific activity; • One required the OPA to be a member of a committee, group, or task force; and • 24 required various GovGuam agencies to submit reports and other information to the OPA.
“Generally, GovGuam entities complied with the various mandates to prepare and submit reports to the OPA,” the report said.
Citing the myriad reporting requirements, OPA recommended that the process be streamlined by eliminating the required submission of hard copies and sticking to the digital platform.
OPA suggested that the reporting requirement be limited to website posting at the agency level and email notifications to the required parties such as the governor, the speaker and the public auditor.
OPA noted that providing financial information on websites is more efficient and effective in enhancing accountability and promoting transparency in the government.
"If the OPA is still required to hold oversight or manage these mandates, the office recommends there be an incentive or way for agencies to comply. At the moment, there is no compelling reason for any other agency to submit these reports on time or at all," OPA said.
Cruz said his management team continues to assess risks and exercise professional judgment when prioritizing mandates to address.
“The OPA continues to serve as the watchdog to ensure the effective and efficient administration and management of public funds and programs. We will continue auditing for good governance,” Cruz said.