Vice-Speaker Again Defends Joinder Contract Bill Against Criticism From Island’s Business Community

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Guam – Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz is again defending his “joinder” contract bill which would allow GovGuam agencies to join other U.S. municipalities in contracts for the purchase of goods and services.

Cruz is facing stiff pressure from the island’s business community which fears joinder contracts might would hurt local businesses but he responds that his measure, Bill 430, could result in considerable savings for GovGuam

READ Bill #430 HERE

The Vice Speaker also announced that he will amend Bill #430 to allow the Public Health Department’s WIC program to benefit from the savings of joinder contracts.

The release states that, according to DPHSS officials, a manual breast pump purchased from a local Guam vendor would cost $356.80. But if it were to be procured through a joinder contract its cost would be as little as $7.95, including shipping.

In his release, Senator Cruz quotes Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman who said“There is nothing more pro-business and pro-free market than consumers exercising their freedom to choose.”

READ Senator Cruz’s release in FULL below:

Vice Speaker defends taxpayers; Procurement Council will take up issue of government-wide cooperative purchasing policy.

(April 19, 2012 – Hagåtña)  “There is nothing more pro-business and pro-free market than consumers exercising their freedom to choose. The great economist Milton Friedman, himself, championed this idea.” The Government of Guam itself is a consumer, and should behave in the same manner. That is what Vice Speaker Benjamin J.F. Cruz reiterated in response to criticisms of cooperative purchasing by a local attorney whose practice has in many instances has been to represent vendors against the government in procurement matters.

Recently, Attorney John Thomas Brown has criticized a measure sponsored by Cruz which allows GovGuam agencies and departments to engage in cooperative purchasing with other state and local government entities.   The measure would result in considerable savings at a time when the Governor has called for $43 million in cuts in government expenditures. On a local radio talk show, Brown stated, among other things, that cooperative purchasing will hurt the economy.

“I didn’t know Atty. Brown is also an economist,” Cruz said today in response. “I’m not one myself, but I figure that if there are savings to be realized from cooperative purchasing, those savings could go to purchasing other local goods and services and perhaps be used to pay vendors on time! This issue is about saving money for the government.  It may be John’s job to protect his clients, but it’s my job to protect the taxpayers.”

Cruz is also responding to a Pacific Daily News editorial by former publisher Lee Webber today. Webber chairs the board of the Guam Memorial Hospital which engages in cooperative purchasing. Local law gives the hospital, unlike most other agencies, broad authority with respect to procurement.

“Webber is essentially criticizing a practice being enjoyed by an agency he oversees,” Cruz said. “This speaks volumes about his knowledge on the matter.”  

In the meantime, Cruz said he will seek to amend Bill No. 430 so that it will allow the Department of Public Health and Social Services Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to benefit from the savings of participating in a purchase agreement with the Western States Contracting Alliance for breast pumps and infant milk. According to DPHSS officials, a manual breast pump which could be procured for $356.80 locally could be procured through cooperative purchasing for as little as $7.95 including shipping.

In a letter sent this morning, Cruz thanked Governor Eddie Baza Calvo for allowing a recent meeting with Former District Judge John Unpingco who will be sitting on the Guam Procurement Advisory Council. In this meeting, which was at Unpingco’s request, the two discussed the idea of cooperative purchasing, and other matters related to procurement.

“I am happy that Mr. Unpingco and I agree that, in some form, cooperative purchasing has a place in our procurement law and would result in considerable savings to the local taxpayer and the more efficient use of federal funds,” Cruz wrote. “He acknowledged that through the work of the Council, we can move forward with developing a comprehensive government-wide policy authorizing its use.”