The federal government seems to be paying more attention to Guam’s issues with regard to the impacts of the Compact of Free Association on the island’s local government.
Carlotta Leon Guerrero, the chief adviser for military and regional affairs, told the Patti Arroyo show on NewsTalk K57 that the current tour of Guam by U.S. Government Accountability Office representatives was instigated by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who chairs the powerful U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
According to the chief adviser, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has been reaching out to U.S. senators, including Murkowski, on a host of Guam issues like Compact Impact, war claims, Medicaid, and EITC.
Earlier this year, the governor also testified at a Senate hearing held by the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, chaired by Murkowski, advocating for solutions to issues affecting Guam.
Leon Guerrero said the GAO tour is a direct response to those initiatives and the governor’s efforts to reach out to the federal government.
She added that the GAO visit is important so that the federal government can get a more accurate picture of the various impacts of Compact migration to Guam.
She said the administration is hoping to put in clearer language with regard to Guam issues in the upcoming COFA renegotiation with the U.S.
The GAO team has three members who are holding 20 meetings on Guam in three days.
“They are meeting with government agencies and the various FAS community organizations,” Leon Guerrero said.
The GAO team also met yesterday with officials from the Guam Department of Education to discuss how Compact migration is affecting GDOE.
Before going to Guam, the GAO team was in Hawaii and after the Guam tour, they will proceed to the CNMI.
Often called a congressional watchdog, the Government Accountability Office is an independent, nonpartisan body that looks at how taxpayer dollars are spent in the U.S. and its territories.
The GAO team will be on Guam up to Aug. 28 to gather information on the impact of COFA migration on Guam.
The Compacts of Free Association are agreements between the US and the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
According to the latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau, Guam has the most number of COFA migrants in 2018.