Washington – Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, this week announced $2 million in fiscal year 2019 grant funding to Guam.
This year, funding supports training and a variety of modernization and digitization needs in government IG systems for the Guam executive branch, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the public broadcast system, and natural resource protection, among others.
“Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and I are pleased to fund these various projects supported by Governor Leon Guerrero that ultimately streamline and improve services for people on Guam,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech.
Funds awarded to Guam for fiscal year 2019 are as follows:
· Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans – Information Technology Assessment – $300,500 to conduct an information technology assessment of hardware, software, systems, and business and workflow processes in the Government of Guam Executive Branch. The first phase will focus on finance, accounting, and government resource management planning systems, including procurement and infrastructure maintenance. The second phase will focus on non-financial management systems with a priority on law enforcement, emergency first responders, and health and social services agencies. The desired outcome is a strategic plan with next steps towards modernization of government services, efficiency, and better delivery of services.
· Guam Bureau of Statistics and Plans – Cost-Benefit Analysis of Impact of Compact of Free Association Migrants – $280,000 to seek contractual services to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to determine the economic contributions or revenue that Compact of Free Association migrants provide to the local economy. This is an effort by Guam to address concerns that U.S. federal officials have expressed concerning the methodology used by Hawaii, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to determine Compact Impact costs. This also seeks to address weaknesses reported in the U.S. Government Accountability Office report (GAO-13-773T) titled: Guideline's Needed to Support Reliable Estimates of Cost Impacts of Growing Migration.
· Office of the Attorney General – Upgrades for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) – $207,743 to upgrade critical infrastructure and modernize the OCME, as well as provide specialized equipment, tools, and necessary supplies. Funding will also support training from the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners. The OCME provides certifications for deaths on the island and conducts other investigations, autopsies, toxicology, and specimen analysis on homicides, suicides, accidents and other unexpected or unusual deaths. In calendar year 2018, the office investigated 718 such cases.
· Office of the Lt. Governor of Guam – Upgrades to the Guam Public Broadcasting System – $498,999 to modernize and update equipment for the Guam Public Broadcasting System. The public broadcast system is required by law to provide educational and informational services on a variety of issues such as disaster notifications and assistance, public health initiatives, natural resource protection and invasive species management, promotion of Guam culture, and public safety messaging.
· Office of the Lt. Governor of Guam – Grants Management System for Guam State Clearinghouse – $87,000 to procure a grants management system to track and manage fiscal and programmatic accountability for all federal grants, loans, and other federal funding sources awarded to Guam. The clearinghouse monitors compliance for over 50 departments and agencies on Guam that receive federal funding. As of 2018, it was actively monitoring over $3 million in funding.
· Office of the Attorney General of Guam – Records Digitization and Archival Project – $375,000 to digitize and archive attorney general opinions, legal memoranda, and other non-sensitive documents produced since the mid-1940’s - over 6.5 million pages of documents are currently stored in over 1300 boxes in the Office of the Attorney General. The records span a period that includes U.S. Naval administration, transition to an appointed civilian governor, and eventually a Governor elected by the people of Guam. Digitization would not only preserve historical records and showcase the evolution of Guam’s laws, but also facilitate easier public access.
· Office of Public Accountability – Training Program – $76,000 to send two audit staffers to participate in training and internship opportunities made possible through a collaboration with the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General. Funds also support ongoing professional certification requirements as certified public accountants, certified government financial managers, internal auditors, fraud examiners, and such. The Office of Public Accountability serves as an independent auditing agency that helps ensure accountability and transparency in government.
· Department of Agriculture – Strengthen Conservation Officers – $133,289 to bolster human resources, purchase new communications equipment, and strengthen general capacity of the Guam Department of Agriculture’s conservation officers, who are responsible for enforcing Guam's natural resources laws, rules, and regulations.
A separate grant was awarded to a Guam non-profit organization as follows:
· Guam Preservation Trust – Pacific Preservation Technology Project – $94,801 to develop a shared educational digital technological resource and tool, the Pacific Preservation Technology Website, for preservation stakeholders from the Pacific Insular Areas to increase the preservation technology network to sustain historic, cultural, and natural resources in the region.
o Each participating U.S. Pacific Island area – American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau - will create at least two preservation educational videos that cover a period of Pacific Island history, to be shared on the site and a YouTube channel.
o With these funds, the Guam Preservation Trust proposes to host, at the end of fiscal year 2021, a 200-person, live-streamed summit in Guam for U.S. Pacific Island stakeholders, to introduce new documentation/research techniques such as LiDar/PXrF, and provide additional capacity building.
Funds are provided through the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance and Maintenance Assistance Programs. Applications are submitted from October through May 1 of each year. Once OIA receives appropriations from the U.S. Congress, OIA reviews applications and gives awards to successful applicants until the funding is exhausted.