19 contractor licenses approved; work underway on 735 renewals

DPW: The Department of Public Works compound in Upper Tumon is shown on June 19. The Guam Contractors License Board approved 19 new licenses during a meeting Wednesday, and hundreds of renewals are in the works. Post file photo

Nearly $542,000 in travel expenses was reported by six agencies between the second quarter of 2018 and third quarter of 2019, according to reports submitted to the 34th and 35th Legislatures.

The six agencies are the Office of Public Accountability, Office of the Attorney General, Department of Administration, Department of Public Works, Guam Economic Development Authority and Department of Revenue and Taxation. 

Costs included airfare, lodging, registration fees, ground transportation and per diem. Some agencies did not provide a breakdown. The reasons for travel were generally due to workshops, training events or meetings with investors. 

The total for all reported travel reached about $541,935, most of which was federally funded. The cost to the local government was nearly a third, at $151,217, excluding the Guam Economic Development Authority paid trips.

Here's the breakdown:

• Total for DPW: $270,438

• Total for DOA: $128,637

• Total for GEDA: $87,971

• Total for OPA: $42,438

• Total for DRT: $12,449

• Total for OAG: Costs were not itemized, although trips and travelers' names were reported.

The locally funded trips were mostly reported by the Department of Administration, which must report on locally funded travel by the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and other officials.

Inconsistent reporting

Costs figures are incomplete, however. Neither GEDA nor the OAG submitted complete cost reports.

Prior and current budget laws require reporting on travel. The Legislature keeps a record of the travels, but the reporting has been inconsistent. Some agencies didn't specify what the travel was for or how much the travel cost for each publicly paid traveler.

The fiscal year 2018 budget law required agencies to record only the names of travelers and funding sources, but not the costs. The 2019 budget law added a requirement that the cost should be reported.

GEDA did not include costs in 2018 reports but did so in its 2019 reports. 

The attorney general's office, however, did not include costs in the reviewed reports, but travel by some OAG employees was recorded in DOA reports.

The OAG did post sources of funding, which were largely federal but did include some local sources and travel for witnesses in certain cases. Meals and registration for one trip by Attorney General Leevin Camacho came from local funding, according to the second-quarter travel report, but the costs were not specified.

However, the third-quarter report shows cost breakdowns when using local funds, but that is not included in this analysis.

Biggest spender

Based on reports available, DPW is the highest spender on travel among agencies, at about $270,000 in a year, or half of the total. The vast majority of that comes from federal funding or other nonlocal sources, and supported law enforcement agencies as well.

There was about $10,000 taken from the Guam Highway Fund for travel in the second quarter.

The recent Lifesavers National Conference on Highway Safety Priorities in Louisville, Kentucky, included a few hours in Churchill Downs, the venue for internationally known horse racing events, including the Kentucky Derby. The conference itinerary stated busing to the racetrack was provided and that conference attendees would partake in a buffet dinner at "Millionaires Row, 4th floor, overlooking the track." The conference program highlights an image of horse racing.

DOA reported the second-highest spending, but it covered trip costs for certain employees of other agencies.

And while costs reports were incomplete, GEDA ranked third among agencies that reported their travel to the Legislature.

Reporting on utilities, education and other topics.