AG: bonuses for unclassifieds illegal - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

AG: bonuses for unclassifieds illegal

by Nick Delgado

Guam - Thousands of dollars given in bonuses have been deemed illegal and now it will be up to the Government of Guam to get that money back. Only classified employees of the island's public sector are entitled to an award under the Merit Bonus Provision and those unclassified employees who received the award must repay the amount back to the government.

In 2009 Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks, Bureau of Budget and Management Research director Bertha Duneas, Rev & Tax director Art Ilagan and Department of Administration director Lou Perez received bonuses of more than $3,000, as the four agencies shared more than $400,000 in bonuses paid out by the Camacho-Cruz Administration. The bonuses were a reward for the Government of Guam's clean fiscal year 2007 audit.

But former attorney general John Weisenberger found that the directors weren't entitled to the extra compensation, something Vice-Speaker B.J. Cruz agrees with. "Trying to stretch the law to say that your authority as director of Administration to address classification gives you the authority to create other things," he said, "and the time schedule that you see from all those memo's it was really suspect."

Cruz's concern is that the Guam Legislature put in place a bonus system of 3.5% only if an employee received an outstanding job review.  He had concerns about the bonuses, which were classified under a special achievement awards program that he calls "bogus".

Like Cruz, Senator Adolpho Palacios also chimed in on the issue sending his concerns to the AG's Office as well, saying that only classified and not unclassified employees of the government can receive these bonuses and he also says that these bonuses are flat out improper.

The vice-speaker noted, "The law is there and the law does not allow it. There is really nothing that can be done, except the administration - in this case, the governor - should have actually enforced this, after all the payment started, the authorization for disbursement of this money started with the Governor's Office, no payment would have been made if it had not been approved by the Governor's Office."

The only thing Senator Palacios disagrees with is having the directors pay the money back, saying it should be considered a lesson learned, telling KUAM News, "I don't think that it would be fair to require them to pay back; it appears to me that in this case I think the government would just have to absorb the lost."

In the meantime, Cruz says he will be meeting with DOA officials to ensure the problem does not happen again.

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