GDOE closer to transitioning away from 3rd party oversight

Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)

The Guam Department of Education (GDOE) has received notification from United States Department of Education (USEd) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grants Administration and Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition Management Jim Stader that GDOE will have the opportunity to begin transitioning away from the oversight of a Third Party Fiduciary Agent (TPFA).

GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez received the official notification following a virtual monitoring visit conducted by USEd officials in July.

The Reconsideration Evaluation Plan (REP) Virtual Monitoring was conducted from July 14 to July 16. The Virtual Monitoring team was composed of USEd personnel from the Risk Management Services Division (RMSD), Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE), and Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The visit validated documentation of GDOE’s progress in meeting the REP submitted to USEd from September 2019 through June 2020.

In the letter to Superintendent Fernandez, Deputy Assistant Secretary Stader recognized the notable progress GDOE has made in addressing tasks within the REP.

As a result, USEd removed several requirements in place, such as two of the four required GDOE signatures as part of the biweekly employee time certification and reimbursement process.

Additionally, beginning August 31, 2020, USEd has removed the requirement for TPFA oversight of the physical inventory process for a six-month probationary period. The probationary period spans from August 31, 2020 to January 31, 2021. This period will allow the GDOE to demonstrate sustained improvements and assume the responsibilities of the TPFA.

Over the next six months, the GDOE will also be working to implement two major initiatives to complete remaining items in the REP. These two initiatives will focus on automation of employee time tracking and the automation of fixed assets inventory, beginning with Consolidated Grant activities and then expanding to other federal grants. Once both initiatives are implemented, the GDOE should be able to finalize its completion of the REP and to continue transitioning further from TPFA oversight.

“During my time on the Guam Education Board I have seen the significant progress our department has made in managing federal resources and fixed assets,” Guam Education Chairwoman Maria Gutierrez said. “I am glad to see that the U.S. Department of Education is recognizing the hard work of our employees.”

“The significant progress that was rightfully recognized by USEd shows the great work of our Guam Department of Education leadership and the rank and file professionals who care about our education system. We all realize the importance of our federal partnership especially during our pandemic healthcare emergency. More than ever we need to continue to build on our progress as USEd is finally recognizing our collective efforts. We will continue to move in the right direction,” stated GEB Vice Chairman and Budget and Finance Committee Chair Mark Mendiola.

“This opportunity to shift away from the TPFA oversight reflects the significant progress our department has made in terms of managing federal resources,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said. “This oversight was implemented in 2010 before I became superintendent. Almost a decade later, I am glad to see that USEd is recognizing our improved capabilities and that we are ready to manage federal resources without further external support. We plan to complete two major automation initiatives by January and to move off of TPFA oversight, which in turn will save our department millions of dollars that can instead be invested in our teachers and students.”

(GDOE News Release)