Nearly $100K of safety seats may end up in garbage - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Nearly $100K of safety seats may end up in garbage

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Close to $100,000 worth of child safeguard seats purchased for Department of Education Headstart students may end up in the garbage.

Instead of protecting the island's youngest school students, a total of 859 child safeguard seats are likely to end up in the island's landfill.

According to General Services Agency chief procurement officer Claudia Acfalle, the seats were delivered and recounted at the GSA warehouse in Piti along with a letter from the manufacturer stating the items have reached life expectancy and must be re-certified.

GSA is now left with hundreds of boxes of seats for disposal - what Acfalle calls a huge waste and abuse of funds.

But who's to blame and how was the purchase funded? DOE superintendent Jon Fernandez says that remains unknown with DOE deputy superintendent Rob Malay stating the purchase was unnecessary as the Headstart Program has never used car safety seats.

He said, "We don't yet and we're researching that. The employees who were here, responsible for purchasing them are no longer with the department from my understanding the paperwork that surrounds them may no longer be in place but I'm happy to say now that we do have a way to track our fixed assets with the help of our third party fiduciary we're working on building that system but it doesn't go all the way back to 2005."

Now what to do with the expired car seats?

Acfalle recommends GovGuam send them back, even if it means paying shipping and restocking fees.

She adds that despite her recommendation, GSA may include the items in a surplus bid, specifying their safety issues.

Fernandez however, disagrees.

He said, "These were purchased back in 2005 if we could use them if we could send them somewhere else we would but the fact of the matter is that they're unsafe. I think it would be irresponsible to send them anywhere knowing that the safety standards have expired."

What would Department of Public Works' Office Of Highway Safety Occupant Protection Program coordinator Therese Matanane do with the expired carseats?

Use them for training purposes. She adds it's not unusual to use recalled carseats during trainings to certify child passenger safety technicians. Annually, dozens from the Guam Police Department, the Guam Fire Department, DPW, the Guam Memorial Hospital, and the Department of Public Health and Social Services receive such certifications.

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