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DOE hopes to reclaim procurement duties

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - Last year, the Department of Education encountered issues with procurement resulting in numerous protests. Since then the General Services Agency has been tasked with overhauling the entire procurement office. But DOE is now asking for GSA to turn over those responsibilities back to the department.

In 2009 DOE ran into some roadblocks simply because companies were filing protests left to right, noting flaws in the procurement process. It was then that DOE Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood went to the GSA for help. While that agency had purview over the Procurement Division for almost a year, GSA Chief Procurement Officer Claudia Acfalle confirmed that DOE has requested for the procurement staff to be returned back to DOE, effective next month.

She said, "We're right now transitioning back because again, I'm a good sport and I'm just not going to return it to them and have everything fall. Everything that is at GSA is on the process of getting awarded on the small purchase requisitions but if it's the bids, I'm already asking the DOE procurement staff utilize the DOE letterheads so they can transition back to DOE."

DOE recently hired new supply management administrator Brian Mafnas to take on the job. Mafnas has over seven years of procurement management in the U.S. Coast Guard. Acfalle says while she's been training DOE how to utilize a procurement management system, the department has said it doesn't plan to use that system anymore.  "The only thing is that they advised or informed GSA and me that they will not be using or continue to use the basis or the procurement module as it was set up by ," she noted.

"They're going to be going back to their old system...and you know what that's about. We don't need to elaborate on that," she said laughing.  "There's no tracking there. That's the system they want to go back and use. But that's fine because once I relinquish them back then I don't have to worry about anything from DOE anymore."

In the meantime, Education Suruhanu Dominic Terlaje says during his inspections at the school sites, he's been told that procurement issues have hampered DOE's ability to have adequate resources. Terlaje admits that because DOE has to deal with more than 40 schools and thousands of students, it'll be difficult for them to handle all these projects.

He said, "I hope they improve that procurement because it really affects the schools from not receiving either the items they need, or the service they need in a timely manner.  They need to work those procurement issues out, whatever they may be, and have a solid procurement supply and management office because it really effects the schools if we do have problems with procurement."

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