GDOE receives fifth consecutive “clean” audit, ends FY2017 with $4.8 million surplus

Guam Department of Education (PNC file photo)

Guam – The Guam Department of Education has received its fifth consecutive clean audit, and the report released by the Office of Public Accountability reveals that the department ended FY2017 with a $4.8 million dollar surplus.

Superintendent Jon Fernandez has previously lauded the efforts of his administration in cutting costs at a time in which the government has been cash strapped and this appears to be reflected in the audit.

Notable highlights for FY17 reveal a $5.7 million dollar decrease in expenditures, net of capital leases, attributed to GDOE’s attempts to contain costs, especially contractual services.

Charter School expenditures increased by $2.2 million due to increased enrollment numbers and enrollee fees.

The largest expenditure for the department is that of salaries and benefits, including retirement and retiree healthcare benefits.

Accounting for $223.7 million dollars or 64.5% of total expenditures in FY17, local funds cover 85% of that total, amounting to $191.1 million dollars.

The department has been under special conditions, and under federal high risk designation for the past 15 years.

In a release provided by GDOE PIO Isa Baza, the department says that the timely completion of audits is a “benchmark”, one that provides support that the agency has implemented corrective actions and successful internal controls to properly manage both local and federal funds in accordance with all prescribed rules and regulations.

This improvement will be presented to USDOE officials this summer, as the department requests for reconsideration in accordance with the special conditions they are still imposed by.

While the clean audit was given, the OPA identified several significant deficiencies among which $32,000 dollars related to the procurement of goods and services was in question, due to their noncompliance with applicable procurement regulations.

However, Fernandez disputes this claim saying that the procurement was approved by the Attorney General and Governor.

GDOE hopes that the significant progress achieved to date will be acknowledged in the upcoming special conditions letter due to USDOE officials in July.