A new policy and the lack of a quorum have stalled the approval of contractor licenses or renewal of existing licenses for nearly 700 businesses which need their licenses in order to move forward with projects.
Cecil Orsini, executive director of the Guam Contractors Licensing Board, confirmed the delay and its impact to contractors, which number “around 690 or almost 700.”
Orsini said the previous board of directors had created a new policy at the behest of senators that requires all licenses to be approved by the board. Prior to the new policy, the executive director was able to sign off on the licenses once all required documents were submitted and other requirements fulfilled.
Orsini said he has scheduled a meeting for the board for July 31, now that a quorum has been established.
Among those contractors who have been waiting is IAN Corp. The company's executive officer, Karen Storts, said IAN submitted its application for renewal in May.
Storts used to work with the Guam Contractors Licensing Board as its executive director. She’s never seen such a delay, as a part of the office or a member of the private sector, she said. She added that licenses typically expire in June and most businesses submit their documents early to avoid complications and delays in their projects. In her previous experience, a license was issued that same day if all documents are in order.
But almost two months after submitting their applications, some contractors still don’t have a license to show their business partners or potential business partners proof that they are a legitimately licensed contractor.
Storts said IAN did receive a letter on July 8 from the licensing office saying the company's documents have been received. The letter also states: “We would like to inform you that our office cannot issue any certificate/contractors licenses as of this time. The CLB Board of Directors has to approve the licenses during their board meetings to comply with the law.”
Delays for projects
Storts said the headquarters for a major business IAN has partnered with on a Guam project has been asking IAN for its current contractor license. “They’re saying, ‘You haven’t been able to prove that you’re a licensed contractor (and) that your license was renewed this year.’”
She said she doesn’t blame the business partner for its insistence, adding, “If I was a client, I would want that assurance.” Storts said she’s going to send their partner the letter “and hope it’s accepted.”
Storts said in other situations, she doubts the letter would work.
Defense contracts and immigration applications for labor cannot proceed without a current contractor license, she said.
Orsini said then-Sen. Frank Aguon Jr. held an oversight hearing in 2018 because he was concerned with issues the Guam Contractors Licensing Board was facing. To address them, Orsini said, Aguon recommended that the board of directors approve licenses. The board members adopted the new policy, Orsini said. There wasn’t a problem with the new policy last year, but with the change in the administration, four board members resigned and only three members remained, Orsini said.
“We didn’t have a quorum, so we haven’t been able to approve licenses,” he said.
The licensing board is a seven-member board. Orsini said Adelup has submitted nominations and one person has been approved, which means they meet the four-person quorum. However, a board member had to go on a trip and a meeting couldn’t be held until that individual returns.
Orsini said he was able to confirm that the board member would be returning soon and has scheduled the first hearing for July 31.
Orsini said he understands the situation that local contractors are under, and while they’ve been forced to wait, he’s created a form that basically acknowledges that the contractor has submitted all the required documents and applications and is only awaiting final approval from the board.
Contractor licenses expire around June, Orsini said, “so it’s a very busy time.”
Orsini said pending licenses are for various businesses in about 80 disciplines, including developers, asphalt cutting, landscaping and tree-planting.
“We understand the impact on the economy, so we want to make sure we give them the best service we can, as efficiently as we can,” he said. “I’m bound by the policy, and the deputy attorney general assigned to us also advised us to wait for the board to approve the licenses.”