Senator Perez proposes reducing GovGuam costs through IT improvements

Senator Sabina Perez (file photo)

Senator Sabina Perez introduced Bill 390-35 on Thursday, which she says aims to upgrade GovGuam’s electronic systems for handling finances, taxation and payments, with the ultimate goal of improving government efficiency and reducing costs. The measure is co-sponsored by Speaker Tina Rose Muña Barnes and Senator Jose “Pedo” Terlaje.

“In discussions with the hardworking employees throughout our government, I’ve learned that our information technology systems handling finances are significantly out of date,” said Senator Sabina Perez.

These systems are entrusted with both managing financial information at the Department of Revenue and Taxation, and processing financial transactions at the Department of Administration and throughout the government. “Because our current IT infrastructure lacks common, modern features, such as the ability to efficiently interconnect and automate systems, significant taxpayer value is lost,” she added.

Bill 390-35 authorizes the Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) to collaborate with the Department of Revenue and Taxation, the Department of Administration, and the Office of Information Technology to contract a private, third-party consulting firm to serve as a Program Management Office (PMO) to oversee the transition. The PMO will report to the government of Guam, and provide the technical expertise to assist the government during the open bid process and subsequent contract management. Bill 390-35 stipulates that the PMO shall serve as an advisor and contract manager for any businesses contracted to upgrade GovGuam’s IT systems, and in order to avoid any conflicts of interest, it will not be allowed to bid on such contracts itself, according to the Senator.

“Use of a PMO has worked well for our utilities and our HOT bond projects, and is an effective way of having experienced experts on the government’s side to ensure accountability when contracts are evaluated and executed,” said Senator Perez.

“IT systems handling government finances are highly complex, so we should recruit experts with experience helping other states and territories through their technology upgrades,” she added.

Bill 390-35 also calls for the Port Authority of Guam, the Guam International Airport Authority, and the Guam Department of Customs and Quarantine to participate in the IT upgrade process, to ensure interconnectivity with software systems currently used to track procurement, imports and exports.

The introduced legislation also appropriates $250,000 for the procurement of the PMO.

“Our government is currently struggling to find ways to cut costs. While this expense is not insubstantial, it’s a small investment that will directly lead to significant long-term savings,” said Senator Perez, although she does not specify how much could potentially be saved by the government through these upgrades.

Bill 390-35 includes language encouraging the pursuit of federal funding and grants to replace such an appropriation.

Bill 390-35 follows Bill 385-35, which was introduced on July 28, by Speaker Muña Barnes and Senator Pedo Terlaje. Bill 385-35 enables the Department of Revenue and Taxation to contract a private company to integrate Robotic Process Automation into the agency’s existing IT system. Perez said the two bills work in tandem to update GovGuam’s financial IT systems.