Bottlenecks hamper review of DOE projects - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Bottlenecks hamper review of DOE projects

by Michele Catahay

Guam - The Department of Education says despite assurances from the Attorney General's Office that American Reinvestment and Recovery Act-funded projects totaling over $500,000 would be reviewed expeditiously, there are still some delays. Supply and Procurement Administrator Brian Mafnas says his agency has to obligate millions of dollars in stimulus grants by September of next year.

With hundreds of projects planned for the school system, they've only had responses for a few of them. "We are currently evaluating a couple of them. We did receive, evaluate and we're currently working on making an award on the computer literacy, the stem assessment, the anti-bullying and Part 1 of the English as a Second Language program," he explained.

Last week, Southern High School principal James Petitte said projects for the Santa Rita campus cannot be announced unless an architectural and engineering firm assesses the problems. Southern High will be receiving $8,000,000 for its facilities.

Mafnas says in order for Southern and all other schools to be assessed, do would need to finalize a contract to hire an A&E firm.  "Basically, they'll go out and do an assessment at the school sites and provide us their feedback. From there, we'll take those specifications and issue an IFB or an RFP," he added.

While DOE had received the good news months ago that federal dollars were going to fund capital improvement projects, Mafnas admits there hasn't been much movement. He says several contracts totaling over $500,000 were forwarded to the Attorney General's Office for review, but most of them haven't come back. A couple of months ago, DOE had said the AG would be appointing Attorney Fred Nishihara to help with the backlog, but Mafnas says that still hasn't formally been approved.

"Yes, it's a big concern," he stated.  "From what we heard is they've already appointed and we're just waiting for the notification letter.  Mafnas said additionally, "Well, we can't move forward. It's a public law that states that anything over $500,000 would need the AG's approval, so if we don't get the approval, we can't move forward."

DOE has until September 30, 2011 the obligate these funds.

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