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Feds have concerns about cost estimates

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - The Government Accountability Office is questioning the accuracy of cost estimates associated with providing services to compact migrants in Hawaii, Guam and the CNMI.

According a report  released by the GAO examining the impact of the Compacts of Free Association, it states that for Fiscal Years 2004-2010 Hawaii, Guam and the CNMI reported more than $1 billion in costs associated with providing education, health and social services t compact migrants. That figure is in far excess of the $210 million in compact impact grants over that time period.

The GAO however suggests the cost estimates contain a number of limitations with regard to accuracy, adequate documentation and comprehensiveness, which in turn affects its credibility.

The governor's chief policy advisor Arthur Clark hopes the GAO report stresses the importance of the office of insular affairs to fix the deficiencies identified.

"If OIA is not forwarding to Congress a report or a validated report, or a report they can get behind, that quantifies the impact that the compacts are having on the affected jurisdictions it's easy for Congress to say this is unreliable information, get us reliable information so we can identify the problem and start working on a solution," he said.

He adds Guam is the only affected jurisdiction that has been consistently providing a report. The report further made note of guidelines developed in 1994 by the Department of the Interior for reporting compact impact, and the fact that several reporting local government agencies as well as DOI officials themselves weren't even aware of them and had not used them.

The GAO report lists the total impact on Guam from compact migrants is $326.5 million between 2004-2010.

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