DOE gets another infusion from Uncle Sam - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DOE gets another infusion from Uncle Sam

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - Just a day after a contract to hire a third-party fiduciary agent for the Department of Education was signed by Governor Felix Camacho, the agency received word it will be getting an additional $20 million for education jobs. The department stands ready to spend the much-needed cash.

Department of Education Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood says she can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the agency can access millions of dollars from the Consolidated Grant. Alvarez and Marsal will be tasked with administering federal funds.  "The total amount of their contract is $4,250,000 per year over a two-year period," said Underwood.  "And if we do need their services beyond the two years, then we will need to assume a responsibly for the most part from the General Fund."

Bretania Underwood says her goal is for DOE to have a corrective action plan in place in for the next two years in order for the department to get out of its high-risk grantee status. For now, she says they're priority is getting reimbursed.  "As soon as they have their systems up and running, then they should be able to start operating and start reviewing our requests for reimbursements and also our request for expenditures against those grants that have already been approved but have been held back," the superintendent continued.

The third-party is also tasked with overseeing an additional $75 million in stimulus grants. While the Administration has criticized the agency for not properly meeting reporting requirements, the superintendent says they have been working closely with the USDOE.  "Our staff have been trained and they have been reporting on a timely basis. Reporting for ARRA is very strict. If we haven't been reporting correctly or if we have failed to report, I would be notified immediately and they would have held back our capacity to utilize the funds, so I'm not sure where that information is coming from," said Undewood.

DOE also received good news today that it will be receiving an additional $20 million in the next several days to cover education jobs. While this may seem like great news, Underwood says those funds have already been earmarked to cover the shortfall for next fiscal year's budget.  "We anticipate based on the decision that had been made for that $20 million for the personnel cost, which had been reduced," she told KUAM News.

In the meantime, Governor Felix Camacho says it's about time that DOE gets the needed funds simply because the island's public sector can no longer afford to give anymore money to the largest agency in the government.  "The Government of Guam and the line agencies have had to provide bridge financing, so all the federal funds that would normally go into doe at this time we had to bear the burden. All the GoGuam line agencies, all the vendors that are owed money throughout our community have had to bear the burden and pay the price of DOE," he said.

GovGuam has had to fork out additional cash to cover operational costs for DOE in the past while other agencies have been running low on cash. In the meantime, the third-party agent and USDOE will be on island next week.

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