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Company asks senators to consider bill

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by Janjeera Hail

Guam - Lawmakers spent some time today discussing Bill 488 and there's clearly mixed opinions on the measure.  While the author of the bill says it would pave the way for the port to begin $100 million in modernization projects, one local company believes it would actually undermine Guam's procurement laws. 

The heart of Harbor Center's protest over the Port Authority of Guam's procurement of a performance management contract is that local law had been violated solely because the chief procurement officer, Claudia Acfalle, was not involved in the selection process.  It was revealed during a procurement appeals hearing that the bid packets had been taken home and Acfalle was not involved in the selection at all.

While the procurement challenge remains in the hands of the Superior Court, Senator Tom Ada is hoping Bill 488 would remedy the problem by making the chief procurement officer's role in the procurement at the port be optional.  But Harbor Centre attorney Rawlen Mantanona is hoping the senator will reconsider, telling KUAM News, "This procurement had several problems that we've already said out publicly and to now do it, it kind of calls to question what's more important - to award a contract or undermining Guam procurement law."

"We're not saying that they can't be there," noted Senator Ada. "We're saying that if you choose to put a priority on another procurement activity, then that's their decision to make but this process has to go on."

Ada defends his bill, citing the importance of awarding the performance management contract in light of the impending implementation of the Port's master plan. "We're going to be undertaking $100 million worth of projects down at the port. This performance management services is basically going to be the service that makes sure that while all this construction is going on the cargo ships that come in must continue to operate and move containers through that port," he explained.

Mantanona and his client believe the entire procurement process for the PMC must be re-done and done right because as much as $300 million is on the line.  "Our government relies on us getting the best services, the best product, at the best price," he stated. "That means we need to have a large group of people willing to deal with the government. If they're not going to feel like they're going to get a fair shake, that there's no transparency, then we're not going to have that valuable requirement for the Government of Guam."

Meanwhile, the Guam Legislature is expected to move on the issue very shortly. That could take place as soon as Monday, while Harbor Centre's case is still pending in the Superior Court.

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