Senator sends inquiries on FMS procurement to DOA and AG

Sen. Frank Blas Jr. (file photo)

Senator Frank F. Blas, Jr. sent letters Monday to Department of Administration Director Edward Birn and Attorney General of Guam Leevin Camacho on the matter of the procurement of a financial management information system for the government of Guam.

“There was a statement in the Office of the Public Auditor’s release of the FY2020 Financial Audits of the Guam Highway and Tourist Attraction Fund that caught my attention and I want to know more of what is happening in the procurement of the financial management system. My understanding is that the system being sought is over $30 million and I have concerns with how it is being bought,” Blas said.

According to Blas, the OPA audit reports provided details of DOA having difficulty in gathering information for the audits and lay blame on a financial system that needed to be upgraded. The reports also indicate that the procurement was being conducted under the authority provided in Executive Orders 2020-44 and 2021-07.

“What I find bothersome is the attempt to correlate a long-existing problem to the response needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s like saying we knew we needed a new car for five years now, but let’s use the money we got today for the fixes needed on our house to buy that car,” the senator said.

Blas pointed out that while the executive orders deemed the procurement an emergency, they differed with how the procurement was to be performed. While Executive Order 2020-44 states:

“Pursuant to Section 5215, Chapter 5 of Title 5, GCA, I declare and certify the existence of an emergency relative to the need for financial and human resource management systems for the government of Guam. Therefore, the Chief Procurement Officer for the Department of Administration’s General Services Agency is authorized to enter into contracts and incur obligations necessary to secure services, supplies or goods, required for the implementation of systems for the management of the government of Guam’s financial and human resource management operations, which are critical to administering the several programs necessary to address and are responsive to the current public health emergency.”

Executive Order 2021-07 states:

“As stated in Executive Order No. 2020-44, pursuant to Section 5212 Chapter 5, GCA, I certify the continuing existence of an emergency relative to the need for financial and human resource management systems for the government of Guam. The remainder of item 3 of Executive Order 2020-44 is stricken.”

Blas said “Executive Order 2020-44 makes reference to the Guam law on Emergency Procurement (§5215 of 5 GCA Chapter 5) while Executive Order 2021-07 says the procurement will be done pursuant to §5212 of 5 GCA Chapter 5, which is Bid Security & Performance Requirements for Contractors. Blas said the law referenced in 2021-07 was probably a typographical error, “however, it raised a flag with what process and authority was being used to make a purchase that will cost a lot of money.”

Blas went on to say that his letter to DOA was for information on the procurement and the one to the AG was requesting information on the legality of the process.

“I understand the need to upgrade the government’s financial management system, however, to skip the normal procurement process by saying it’s an emergency due to the pandemic is a stretch to justify its purchase. This is something that definitely needs an oversight,” Blas said.

(Senator Frank Blas Jr. Release)