OPA: Amend law on gubernatorial transitions

(PNC file photo)

The Office of Public Accountability (OPA) has issued a report pertaining to the Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s Transition Fund.

OPA determined that although the transition committee adequately accounted for the $691,000 funds raised and $665,000 in expenditures, it did not follow Guam procurement law because this is not specifically required in the law.

For better accountability and transparency, OPA recommends that the Legislature amend the law to provide better guidance regarding transition funds.

In addition to the inaugural ceremony and celebration, the funds were used for renovations, equipment, furniture, and other costs determined to be related to the transition by the transition committee.

According to OPA, more guidance is also needed in the law to determine appropriateness and necessity of what counts as transition-related expenditures.

OPA also found several instances where the transition committee did not follow its standard operating procedure for the transition fund disbursements, and was inconsistent in its disbursement practices.

According to OPA, the transition committee acted beyond its 30-day limit when the report on donations was submitted 75 days after the deadline, which they cited was due to human error, and the transfer of excess funds was not made until 173 days after the deadline as they were waiting for outstanding checks to clear before closing the account.

OPA made three recommendations to the Guam Legislature including:

* To specifically state whether transition funds are subject to Guam Procurement Law;
* Require the transition report to include a listing of fixed assets that will be transferred to the incoming administration; and
* Require the financial reports to be submitted to OPA.

As a matter of full disclosure, the Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz recused himself from this audit “because of an identified impairment in appearance due to familiarity.”

As this was the first ever audit of any gubernatorial administration’s transition fund, the findings and recommendations can help improve the accountability and transparency of future transition funds, OPA said.