Governor Felix Camacho has recently transferred the Department of Education's procurement responsibilities to the General Services Agency. With several protests filed on various projects, the Administration has said its plans are to help improve the financial stability of the school system.
GSA chief procurement officer Claudia Acfalle says when she took over DOE's Procurement Division, she noticed there was a lack of consistency in the procurement process. She also noted a lack of communication between the schools and upper management. Acfalle says here goal is to create a new sense of direction for the department.
Acfalle said, "That's the improvement plan that I'm taking right now is to get these procurement staff to understand that they're an important part of the school system because without them, the teachers wont have the supplies they need to teach the kids as well as they should. Again, it's changing attitudes where they have to take into consideration that they're providing services to the schools."
Acfalle says although the failure to process bids in a timely matter is attributed to the lack of staff in that division, she says it's also important to change the attitudes of employees. She says her goal is to mold these individuals to work and not work when they want to work. For the past several months, there have been protests on several bids to include ones for the repair of the Oceanview Middle School gymnasium, the DOE fire alarm system, and air conditioning units for Southern High's gym.
"It is a big task," she continued. "It is a great task, but again, if you have the sense of direction on how to improve the system, to me, it's an easy task from there because then I have identified where the weaknesses are and again ensuring the employees are cooperating."
Acfalle says these changes are necessary to ensure DOE gets out of the high-risk status with the U.S. Department of Education. At this point, she says she's not too sure how many other contracts have been flawed to date. "Right now I just take it as they come in, because if I'm going to go back and review all the procurement transactions that have taken place at DOE. I don't know how many I will find, but I'll take it as we move forward," she noted.
Acfalle says since GSA has taken over procurement responsibilities, she's already issued out purchase orders for the schools, telling KUAM News, "We have already issued in the last week. We have issued close to a hundred purchase orders and supplies so there are a lot of things that could've gone out in an expedient matter. But I guess it just takes a push."
She says the job can be done if and when employees begin to take their job seriously and stop blaming each other. "There was really no support to the supply administrator and it was more of a disrespect instead of just getting the work done, let's respect him and let's move forward in supporting the schools needs," Acfalle said.