The government of Guam spent $78 million on legal fees and services, the Office of Public Accountability disclosed in its latest report.
OPA’s analysis of the cost of legal fees and services of GovGuam agencies included autonomous and semi-autonomous agencies as well as public corporations over a period of five years from fiscal year 2013 to fiscal year 2018.
According to OPA, 21 GovGuam entities paid $32.6 million to contracted legal firms, seven GovGuam entities spent $43.8 million on government-hired attorneys, and six GovGuam entities spent $5.9 million on government-hired attorneys.
In addition, the Office of the Attorney General spent $38 million on government-hired attorneys, 34 GovGuam entities utilized OAG for legal services and six reimbursed $1.6 million while five GovGuam entities employed attorneys and contracted legal services.
OPA’s analysis found that 21 entities paid $32.6 million to contracted legal firms. The top five entities paid $27.1 million of the $32.6 million which are Guam International Airport Authority (GIAA), Port Authority of Guam (PAG), Guam Memorial Hospital Authority (GMHA), Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS), and Guam Waterworks Authority (GWA).
The top entity was the Guam International Airport Authority, which initially paid $17.8 million to four law firms. However, it was later reimbursed $13.5 million through a written agreement for an ongoing case bringing their cost to $4.3 million.
Number two Port Authority of Guam paid just one law firm $5.4 million.
Although certain GovGuam entities require special counsel to handle particular cases, OPA noted that it is more cost-effective to hire in-house attorneys.
While each GovGuam entity identifies its needs for legal services, OPA recommended these entities perform a cost-benefit analysis to determine if it is more feasible to employ government attorneys versus contracting for legal services.