by Krystal Paco
Guam - It's good news for the Department Of Education, who may be able to recover some of close to $100,000 used to purchase child safeguard seats. It appears the landfill may not be the final destination for 859 child safeguard seats purchased back in 2005 for use by DOE.
Little is known to why the purchase was made as DOE and Department of Public Works confirm child seats are never used in buses for the Headstart Program.
It was earlier this month the seats were delivered and recounted at the General Services Agency warehouse in Piti and received along with a letter from manufacturers dated January 2013, stating the items have reached their six-year life expectancy and must be re-certified.
With what appeared to be expired seats, GSA chief procurement officer Claudia Acfalle says the agency was left with hundreds of boxes for disposal. "We had a concern of liability because we also don't want to auction these seats and we're not certain if they are safe to put out on the streets. And if we did auction them and put them out for bid and they win it and then something happens to the children because it's for kids they can easily come back to GSA," she said.
With too many questions left unanswered, Acfalle wrote to Easy Way Safety Services and received a response last week. "All we know is we have them here at GSA transferred by DOE to GSA and we're just trying to see how we can assist DOE to maybe put them into use if they can because we already got word from the manufacturer that it's safe as long as the original box is not opened," she explained. "The feedback we got back from the manufacturer was that as long as the boxes were still in their original seal - in other words never opened, the seats never used - that they didn't need recertification to take place."
Four of the 859 boxes were discovered to be opened, but Acfalle reports good news from the FSM Consulate. "They are interested in the seats and that we could actually help out our neighboring islands so that we could transfer some of these seats to them and whatever is remaining we could auction out," she said.
Meanwhile, DOE deputy superintendent Rob Malay tells KUAM News the department is looking at its options but is grateful for GSA's efforts to help doe recover the lost funds.
Aside from helping our neighbors in the FSM, Malay says other options include selling the seats to other districts who use such equipment in their buses as well as checking if manufacturers will take back the items. Both options require DOE to absorb shipping costs.
Lessons learned, Malay says it appears the employee who ordered such seats was reacting to a mandate for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the CNMI, and the U.S. Virgin Islands requiring child safety seats for infants and children fitting specific criteria. He adds the employee is no longer employed with the department.