Saturday, January 30, 2010

Port review unresolved

Port review unresolved

By Steve Limtiaco • Pacific Daily News • January 25, 2010

It took about five months for the governor's office to give a $350,000 port outreach job to contractor Parsons Brinckerhoff International -- from January 2008, when the military approved funding, to May 2008, when a $350,000 purchase order was issued.

It has taken federal and local officials longer than that to say whether procurement rules were followed.

Guam Assistant Attorney General John Weisenberger has completed his procurement review of the project, and his findings currently are with Chief Deputy Attorney General Phil Tydingco "for further review and final disposition," said attorney general's spokesman Eric Palacios.

The military also has not completed its review of the port project, according to a letter from the military to the Pacific Daily News last week.

AG review began Aug. 3
The attorney general's office started its procurement review Aug. 3. at the request of acting Gov. Mike Cruz, following a series of stories about the outreach project in the Pacific Daily News.

OEA announced its review a few days later and said it froze $350,000 in grant funding to the governor's office -- the value of the project -- pending completion of that review.

Governor's Chief of Staff George Bamba, who is the authorizing official for all OEA grants to the governor's office, approved funding for the port outreach project after the port's legal counsel raised concerns about first putting the job out to bid. The job never went out to bid and was paid for using a $350,000 sole-source purchase order from the governor's office.

The outreach work, which was paid for but never completed, was performed by subcontractor M2D2, which employs Bamba's daughter-in-law and the brother of the port general manager.

Purchases larger than $15,000 normally have to be put out to bid, but the island's chief procurement officer said she approved the larger purchase order based on information provided by Bamba in a memo.

More than $11M in grants approved

The grant agreements signed by Bamba state the grant money must be spent according to federal and local procurement regulations. OEA has approved more than $11 million in grants to the governor's office to help the island prepare for the military buildup.

Bamba, during an interview on K-57 radio in late October, said OEA had completed its review and was waiting for the Guam attorney general's office to release its findings. He said he hoped it would happen within a week.

But OEA has not completed its review, according to the Defense Department.

The Pacific Daily News in November submitted a Freedom of Information request to the military, asking for a copy of the OEA procurement review.

According to the military, OEA Director Patrick O'Brien, who is the "initial denial authority" for his office, was unable to provide the requested documents.

"The OEA informed us that the record you seek is still in production and has not been completed," the military's Office of Freedom of Information stated in a Jan. 14 letter to the Pacific Daily News.

Attorney General Alicia Limtiaco last year recused herself from the review process. Her husband, Vincent Munoz, helped start subcontractor M2D2 in 2007, but Munoz sold his share in the company in April 2008 and did not work on the port outreach project, his attorney has said.

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