The Office of Public Accountability has criticized Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero’s procurement of hotels for quarantine facilities.
OPA released an audit of the emergency procurement of COVID quarantine and isolation facilities.
According to the audit, the Office of the Governor did not comply with Guam procurement law when procuring the facilities.
But the governor told Newstalk K57’s Patti Arroyo on Tuesday that she disagrees with the OPA’s findings. She said that early in the pandemic, she issued an executive order that suspended any rules, regulations, or laws that delay or hinder actions necessary to protect the public during a public health emergency.
“My goal was not to usurp anything. My goal is to quickly take action, and quickly procure or get those hotels in place. And remember also that I worked very closely with the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association to go out there and find people, or hotels, who would be willing to do this. So it’s not like I just sat here and said, ‘Oh I think I like this, this and this hotel, or I think this hotel will benefit me. I think this hotel won’t.’ That was not the case…as the auditor alluded to. That was not the case. There were not very many hotels that were willing to step up to the plate. And so I had no choice but to use the ones that did come to the table,” Leon Guerrero said.
The governor also said that she understands the perception of a conflict of interest because of her relationship with the Bank of Guam. But she said any analysis of the procurement record will show there was no wrong-doing.
Either way, the governor said that she’s given her response to the audit and won’t be losing sleep over it.
“We disagreed with it, we made our recording, we put it down on record, so we move on. This is done. And if the implication or the insinuation there is that I am not transparent…I’m not accountable, that I don’t answer to anybody, it’s absolutely wrong. Those insinuations have no basis, no substance, no documentation, no facts, to support it,” Leon Guerrero said.
In its audit, the OPA specifically identified the following deficiencies:
(1) the Governor’s Office lacked procurement authority to procure quarantine and isolation facilities;
(2) the Governor’s legal counsel had a conflict of interest with one of the awarded facilities;
(3) incomplete procurement records;
(4) and the facility contracts did not conform to the requirements set forth in the Governor’s executive order and Guam procurement law.
As a result of the audit’s findings, the OPA questioned $3 million in costs.
The OPA said that it reviewed the response from the governor’s office but its audit findings and recommendations generally remain the same.