Census Bureau hiring - nepotism or coincidence? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Census Bureau hiring - nepotism or coincidence?

by Heather Hauswirth

Guam - Family connections within the Guam Census Bureau have raised concerns about nepotism.  KUAM News confirmed that seven of governor chief of staff George Bamba's family members have been hired at the Bureau, making a combined salary of about $138,000.

Even though more than 10% of the Census Bureau's hiring so far has been someone related to the governor's chief of staff, Government of Guam officials are defending the actions.

There is no nepotism at the Guam Census Bureau, asserts Cecile Bamba Suda.  In fact, the administrator of the organization and sister of George Bamba contends she had nothing to do with the hiring of six of her family members.  "I think Mr. [Tony] Lamorena did respond on my behalf. We have a process and that process is you file an application. The application is reviewed by our management team and there is testing. All these individuals were tested in groups of 30 or more. I had no process in their interview or selection."

Even Lamorena, the Bureau of Statistics & Plans' director, defended the hiring of Suda's daughter, son, niece, daughter's mother-in-law, and daughter's sister-in-law - whose salaries total more than $137,000.  He said, "We are looking again, with Bureau of Stats & plans we are not the lead agency once the management team was put into place they took the applications in and did the interviews and made their recommendations and so these were their recommendations. My understanding is they will hire close to 700 individuals. Being Guam the way it is, there will be relationships all over the place."

While there's a public perception that there's obvious nepotism as more than a tenth of the hires at the Census Bureau thus far are related to the governor's chief of staff, Governor Felix Camacho maintains there's no favoritism or need for a controversy.

He responded to the question by saying, "What controversy? There's a selection process, and in fact, of all people George Bamba didn't want to have involvement in the selection of the director for the census. That was my choice."  He added, "And for people to give some kind of a listing, some anonymous listing, making accusations as they have is really unfair to such an outstanding family."

As we reported, Suda was appointed by the governor to manage the Bureau, making an annual salary of $52,378. Suda's son, Kristian Bamba Terlaje, was hired as a clerk for $18,920; her daughter, Kassandra Bamba Terlaje, was hired as a clerk and making $18,370.  Suda's niece, Cecilia Bamba Gogue, is also a clerk and earns $11,110.  George Bamba's granddaughter, Briana Bamba Muna, makes $9,130 after being hired as a clerk; Suda's daughter's mother-in-law and sister-in-law were also hired.  Flora Duenas was hired as a supervisor for $9,627; and her daughter, Jaime Duenas, was hired as a clerk, making $18,370.

The salaries are only for three to six months of employment as 2010 Census Advisor Justin McLaughlin, confirms that the positions are merely temporary and targeted for specific operations.

Meanwhile, Senator Frank Aguon, Jr., who has oversight over the Census Bureau, admits he has serious concerns about the public's perception of the overall hiring process.  He said, "When we entertained the legislation to allow flexibility for the chief executive to hire unclassified personnel, in no sense did we imagine that it was going to be the hiring of familial members very close to key individuals in this administration. I find it very unfortunate that he has moved in this particular direction."

So are the hires proof of nepotism or merely a coincidence?  That's up to you to decide.

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