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One man's plan to change public procurement

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by Janjeera Hail

Guam - With the botched John F. Kennedy High School contract dominating headlines, a huge blow has been dealt to public confidence in the Government of Guam's procurement process.  With the release of the 2nd Edition of his Guam Procurement Process Primer, John Brown hopes to bring some clarity to local procurement, a process that, time and again, has cost the local community valuable time and money.  

After struggling with it himself and finding that many of his colleagues felt the same, he wanted to do something that would bring everyone on the same page. He was approached by the Guam Chamber of Commerce about delivering a lecture, and the Guam Procurement Process Primer was born.  "It would be my goal to get everybody on Guam on the same page so we all understood what the law was or pretty much was.  And then we could just argue the facts, which is what lawyers tend to do. And that would cut down on a lot of the unnecessary disputes," he explained.

The first version of the Primer was in the form of the first lecture outline.  Those 30 pages have grown to nearly 300 hundred in the most recent version.  "There's a lot of 'inside baseball knowledge' that lawyers need to know," Brown quipped. "Unfortunately some of that gets kind of technical, but there's a lot of that spoken to in the latest edition."

In the 1980s, Guam adopted the American Bar Association's Model Procurement Code, but left out two parts Brown believes should have been included. The first was a procurement institute, of which Brown said, "[It's] intended to be a place of learning for both the private and public sector and it's not necessarily a place in the sense of bricks and mortar. It's a curricula that could be combined with a UOG course or a GCC course."

The second would be a council - with no independent authority - but the ability to bring knowledge to bear on a problem and recommend solutions.  "The advisory council was to be composed of people who really knew what they were talking about who could assimilate the various viewpoints of private-public sector participants on issues of procurement policy and make recommendations to the policy board," he said.

Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks says she hasn't had the opportunity to look at the Primer yet, but she's in discussions with local attorneys about what changes should be made.  "We're working together with some other attorneys to figure out what are the things we can do to improve the procurement process. But at this point because we're just still in the talking stages, I haven't issued a statement, I'd rather leave it at that," she stated.

Brooks adds that she hopes to deliver a presentation on the subject sometime in October.

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