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GAO Issues Guam Report

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - Following a visit to Guam in April the United States Government Accountability Office issued a report on the island's infrastructure requirements and costs for the Department of Defense's plans for the Marines realignment from Okinawa, Japan to Guam.

The GAO was critical of the Department of Defense and its need to re-validate its public infrastructure requirements based on the revised realignment plan agreed upon between Japan and the U.S. in 2012 which reduced the number of marines that are being transferred to Guam. The GAO also notes that DOD has failed to differentiate between requirements needed to address long-standing conditions and those related to the realignment.

Although the re-validation is not expected to be completed until 2015, the GAO reports that the Defense Department has requested over $400 million for Guam public infrastructure projects in its budget requests over the last two fiscal years despite the reduction in force.

Furthermore the GAO notes that DOD's cost estimate of $1.3 billion for improvements for Guam's water and waste-water systems used to support budget requests for fiscal years 2013 and 2014 is not reliable.

Following the release of the GAO report Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo said she appreciated the federal agency for analyzing the issue of civilian infrastructure needs on Guam,   I believe this report underlines the importance of the outcomes in the FY14 NDAA that passed the House last week in calling for a Economic Adjustment Committee (EAC) meeting within 90 days after the bill is signed into law.  Given the recent changes in the scope of the realignment of Marines it is important that our community have the opportunity to take a second look at impacts on civilian infrastructure in a meaningful and requirements-driven process.  The report does a good job in highlighting that the Department of Defense has historically supported civilian infrastructure needs.  This point was highlighted in a CSIS report but is often overlooked in Congress.  I believe that the EAC process will allow Guam to better articulate its infrastructure needs and requirements to make sure that investments occur to support the realignment.  The report highlights that infrastructure improvements are needed now or it could degrade the readiness and capability of the military posture on Guam.  I will continue to work with the Obama Administration to support infrastructure needs on Guam," Bordallo commented.

In April representatives from the GAO were in Guam and met with Governor Eddie Calvo, Speaker Judi Won Pat and other members of the Legislature, Public Auditor Doris Flores Brooks, officials in the Guam Military Buildup Office and representatives from the island's public infrastructure sectors likely to be affected by the realignment.

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