Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guam's Line Agencies Gagged By Feds

Guam's Line Agencies Gagged By Feds

Can't Tell Senators What They Know About 'Secret' Buildup Plans

Federal Non-Disclosure Agreements Clash With Guam's Open Government Law

Written by Jac Perry, Guam News Factor Staff Writer
Thursday, 15 October 2009 15:39

GUAM - Guam lawmakers hit a brick wall today when line agency heads and their specialists refused to share substantive testimony on the comments they have contributed to an early draft of a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The line agencies say they were compelled to sign federal nondisclosure statements preventing them from sharing their official input to the Defense Department's Draft EIS, a mandatory study that must be completed before Guam's $15 billion military buildup can begin.

Guam Buildup Committee Chair Senator Judi Guthertz was displeased that the Joint Guam Program Office (JGPO) required Government of Guam employees who contributed EIS comments to sign the nondisclosures.

"The nondisclosure agreements should not have been accepted and should have been challenged," Senator Guthertz said.

Guthertz had requested that all regulatory agency comments be submitted prior to today's oversight for review and reference of the Buildup Committee and legislative panel. But none were, because contributing GovGuam employees believed they were barred by the documents they had signed. The whole Draft EIS is due for release in November.

Guthertz is concerned that little to no information has been given to the legislature. She even made a comment that little is even shared between the Governor's Office and the Guam Buildup Office.

Although they may have signed 'binding agreements', the GovGuam contributing employees are still subject to the open government law and the Sunshine Act. The Guam Buildup Office has asked the Office of the Attorney General to provide an opinion on whether or not comments provided for the Draft EIS must be provided to the members of the legislature. The opinion is expected next week.

Guthertz described the non-disclosure agreements as "intimidating" and "threatening" to regulatory agency members.

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