The government of Guam has a history of paying for something or hiring the services of someone under what's called an emergency purchase when it wants to.
There were times when GovGuam's emergency procurement actions didn't make sense, and Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz pointed out an example of this last week. For three years, the public auditor's office stated, the Department of Corrections food services for prisoners and detainees were procured through an emergency purchase – some in intervals as short as 180 days. Instead of putting up the services for a bid in hopes of getting the most out of every GovGuam taxpayers' dollar, Guam's General Services Agency has been unable to do the job right, the public auditor has pointed out.
The public auditor questioned whether it was by design or because of ineptitude that the prison's food services purchases could not go through a more competitive, more transparent and more thorough bid process.
GovGuam's foot-dragging on the prison meal services bid and the resulting use of an emergency procurement shows that the local government can make emergency purchases of good or services when it needs to or wants to.
We bring this up to highlight that when the governor and others in GovGuam want it, they find ways to make use of their emergency spending authority.
We wish that the governor would wield her emergency powers urgently to help provide additional and better facilities for underage children from homeless families.
It doesn't take a long and thorough look at the island to know there are underage children who should be in school during the day and should be sleeping on a bed at night in the safety of their homes.
However, because of the circumstances of these minor children's parents and guardians, these children are out there, without a choice, exposed to the elements and the possibility of being preyed upon by criminals. Some of these children from homeless families are seen on the streets while school is in session. If they continue to be left out of classroom learning, these children will have a tough time getting out of their families' cycle of poverty and helplessness.
There have also been instances when the adults in these minor children's families use the minors to beg for money. We cannot ignore these things. In Hagåtña, Tamuning, Dededo and Harmon, we don't even need to step out of our vehicles to witness this sad reality.
Let's at least help the children of these homeless families.
There are ways GovGuam's emergency powers should be used, and ensuring that there will be no further delays in helping to provide shelter and a system for Guam's homeless minor children to be properly fed and to attend school should be high on the administration's agenda.
We're counting on this administration to do the right thing and make this a priority.