Senators done deliberating Simon Sanchez reconstruction bill

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Guam – Senators sent bill 204 or the Simon Sanchez reconstruction bill to the 3rd reading file which means discussions and amendments are done and it will go up for a vote. Lawmakers deliberated on the measure for three and a half days as some senators had concerns about handing the procurement of the Simon Sanchez contract over to GDOE.

“Well I’m all for getting a more efficient way to procure Simon Sanchez to break up the procurement so that we can get some cost savings in the process I’m all for that. I’m just not sure that this bill is really going to get us there,” said Vice-Speaker Therese Terlaje.

The Vice-Speaker says the bill makes technical changes to the procurement that were objected to during the public hearing.

“Those were not resolved those objections were not resolved such as the definition of a responsive offeror or a responsive bidder,” said Terlaje.

“You don’t want the legislature to write every detail of a procurement into the law that will basically be subject to more protests down the road. So, we just asked them to let’s abide by the current procurement framework that’s in place for every service and good the government solicits, and we’ll go from there,” said GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez.

Senators like Mike San Nicolas and Jim Espaldon have voiced concerns during the session that the solicitation of the project could favor one bidder over the others. PNC asked Fernandez what he thought about these concerns.

“It just comes down to trust. So, if you don’t trust me to do it then just go ahead and vote the bill down and I’ll be okay with that. If you trust me to take it on given our capabilities and experience and the capabilities of our staff, then give it to me and I’ll do the best I can,” said Fernandez.

PNC asked Vice-Speaker Therese Terlaje if she trusted GDOE to be able to handle the procurement.

“Of course,” replied Terlaje adding, “It’s not a matter of who can handle it, but I do have a concern that the government our procurement codes sets up DPW as the entity who is the expert in procuring capital improvement projects.”

Proponents of the bill point out that DPW has repeatedly been unsuccessful in procuring a Simon Sanchez project and has made technical errors that have resulted in prior awards being thrown out.

“Now I agree there have been problems and but I think we need to solve those problems otherwise we will continue to have those problems in further procurements for every other agency of the government of Guam. So, I just don’t believe that and if we wanted to find the expert in procurement and hand this project off to them that’s not what this bill does. We’re just kind of picking and choosing who we’re going to hand this off to verses actually fixing what caused the problem at DPW,” said Vice-Speaker Terlaje.

However, ultimately both Superintendent Fernandez and the bills main sponsor Senator Frank Aguon Jr. believe the final form of the bill is what is needed to finally reconstruct the dilapidated Simon Sanchez high school.

“I think it’s a stronger bill. We have the opportunity to contract with the owner agent engineer to help lead the process and bring in the expertise if there are gaps in expertise that need to be filled. We got more clarity on how to be able to break up the procurement tackle the design work first which will give us a greater advantage of understanding exactly what we want built. We debated how to evaluate the successful construction and financing solicitation so for the most part I think its benefitted,” said Fernandez.

“The bill now provides the necessary tools for the superintendent to be able to take the procurement process and carry it through. And I just want to thank my colleagues for their active deliberation and discussion and also the many amendments that were made that make the bill even stronger, so we can ensure and eventually see the construction of a new Simon Sanchez high school,” said Senator Aguon.

In the afternoon legislators went back into the committee of the whole to discuss Senator Tom Ada’s bill 223 which would rezone land near the Two Lovers Point area from residential to industrial to allow for the construction of a new power plant.