GovGuam breaks down nearly $118M COVID-19 funding

ROAD BLOCK: Commercial vehicles approach a road block on Route 1 in Dededo on April 23. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero on Tuesday released a breakdown of the nearly $118 million in direct federal assistance that GovGuam has already received to address the COVID-19 pandemic, amid mounting public pressure for her to release a spending plan.

The governor, in her news briefing, said her administration is "very flexible" about the spending plan, which totals more than $117.986 million.

If there is something that's much more compelling that they didn't think about before working on the plan, then the allocations will be changed, she said.

Of the nearly $118 million, GovGuam has so far only spent a "few hundred thousand dollars" because they've been waiting for federal guidelines on allowable expenses, the governor said.

The list includes six major groups of expenses, including $40 million in individual and business support, $29 million for pandemic payroll and $16 million in medical expenses.

Also on the spending plan are the purchases of washing machines, a 60-inch Smart TV for teleconferencing, several laptops and $3.5 million in credit card fees.

Expenses for the purchases of paper towels, rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizers, face masks, gloves, respirators, other protective equipment and cleaning supplies were also listed in the document.

The governor said while there's only $313,237 budgeted in the list for the Department of Public Health and Social Service's testing, there are other federal sources to fund testing.

She sent her spending plan to the Legislature before the senators' 10 a.m. emergency session to take up a COVID-19 funding accountability and transparency bill that the governor vetoed last week.

Senators later voted 14-1 to override the governor's veto of Bill 333-35.

Speaker Tina Muña Barnes said she's glad to see almost $3 million allocated to the Office of Public Accountability, Office of the Attorney General and the Judiciary of Guam.

The speaker advocated for this as the agencies "play a key role in ensuring accountability and is the first step to restoring trust in our government."

Minority leader Telo Taitague said she believes the CARES Act budget from Adelup "is an attempt to keep senators at bay, particularly as residents and local media organizations continue to raise serious questions on alleged COVID-19 procurement violations."

"As I take a closer look at the budget and seek details as necessary, I'm concerned by statements the administration made relative to the budget being flexible," the senator said.

Moreover, according to Taitague, she intends to seek answers to several questions beginning with, "Was the budget prepared simply to arrive at the total amount of federal funding issued to Guam?"

There were also expenses listed but with no description, such as $150 for the Department of Military Affairs.

Also on the list are items to make teleconferencing and distance learning possible, including Zoom subscriptions, WiFi routers, external hard drives and other video communication devices.

Funding breakdown

Some of the expenses include:

  • $22 million for the Department of Administration, which anticipates $1 million in differential pay expenses every pay period
  • $20 million in economic assistance to individuals
  • $20 million for a program for small businesses whose operations were affected by COVID-19
  • $11.89 million for Guam Memorial Hospital under different categories
  • $9.5 million for the Department of Administration, of which $6 million is to improve its financial reporting system to ensure compliance with CARES Act and $3.5 million for credit card fees that GovGuam absorbed
  • $7 million for the use of American Medical Center, FHP and Seventh-Day Adventist Clinic for COVID-19
  • $6 million for a financial reporting system under the Department of Administration
  • $6 million for the Department of Revenue and Taxation to improve its records and expand online tax filing
  • $4 million for hotels being used for quarantine
  • $2 million for the Department of Corrections
  • $495,000 for the Guam Police Department, including $299,000 for new emergency vehicles and $120,000 for radios
  • $313,237 for the Department of Public Health's testing 
  • $250,000 to care for the homeless
  • More than $120,000 for Plexiglass shields in offices
  • $98,000 for the Guam National Guard troops who were activated from March 16 to March 31
  • $56,667 to contract an economist for the Guam Economic Development Authority to track COVID-19 impact, from May to December
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