Nepotism investigation underway at Port - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Nepotism investigation underway at Port

by Mindy Aguon

Guam - The Government of Guam has what's known as the merit system that was put in place to create a level playing field for those applying for a job in public service. But numerous complaints have been lodged at one government agency about alleged nepotism that has resulted in selective hiring. 

Port Authority Deputy General Manager Anisia Terlaje confirms she is conducting an investigation into recent hires at the autonomous agency that may have violated the Port's very rules and regulations with regard to employment of family members. "It says spouses and persons within the first-degree of relation, such as brother, child, sister, parent may not be employed at the Port Authority in a direct supervisory subordinate relationship in the classified or unclassified service," she said.

"Whenever there is already two or more members of an immediate family in the public service under the port no other members of such family shall be eligible for appointment."

Terlaje confirms she's received numerous complaints from various individuals who believe they may have been bypassed for promotions or watched as certain managers and other employees' family members were brought on board. "We do have complaints of family members who are here and although some of them may have been here prior to this policy coming out, I know some of them, the ones that have been recently hired maybe should not have been hired based on this kicking-in," continued Terlaje.

KUAM News anonymously obtained a listing of more than 80 individuals at the agency with various familial ties that are employed at the Port - from spouses and siblings to in-laws and cousins. We asked Terlaje if the listing is accurate, as she was controller for the Port in the mid-1990s. "Most of these I recognize since I was here in the past," she said. "Without looking at the staffing pattern, I cannot vouch for it 100%, but I can say 90% this is an accurate list."

For instance, an individual working in the Human Resources Division allegedly has a husband, son, sister, cousin and an in-law employed at the agency; the corporate services manager has allegedly managed to bring her sister, three in-laws and a nephew on board.  A marketing employee allegedly has seven family members employed at the Port, including her husband, two uncles and two cousins who are all employed in the same division while her brother and an in-law are in other sections at the port.

Responded Terlaje, "If these individuals are related directly or perhaps a layer removed from the sister or the brother, then I personally, of course, subject to the board approval, would recommend that they be transferred to another section. And they all have like all other Port employees would have to perform."

Terlaje confirms her investigation is also to determine why some individuals with the same position titles are receiving differing pay. She's also looking into how one individual was hired as a Clerk III and several months later in March managed to be transferred to an administrative position with higher pay. "We definitely don't want to go down on the books here as hiring only family members," she noted, "because we do have procedures in place and I myself would like to see those procedures followed and be competitive for all the community and like I said with this administration transparency and accountability are on the top of the list."

Terlaje says she wants to make it clear that you don't need to have a relative working at the Port to get a job at the agency and that the merit system and the agency's rules and regulations will be followed when it comes to hiring and promotions. "We will do our best to look further into this and also to be fair, and I think we need to make it available for everybody to compete for these positions as they open up," she maintained.

Port chairman Dan Tydingco says the agency's board of directors is very much interested in making sure that all complaints and allegations are properly addressed however he says they cannot comment on the specific allegations here until such time that management has completed its review and the board is given the full report.

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