Task force to address Compact impact reimbursements - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Task force to address Compact impact reimbursements

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It's no secret that the island has faced its challenges when it comes to addressing un-reimbursed Compact impact funding estimated in the billions. And just as we first reported last year, the development of a special task force is still moving forward aimed at not only helping Guam but the other affected jurisdictions as well.

Although it was first announced in September last year, Governor Eddie Calvo's chief policy advisor Arthur Clark says efforts in forming a special task force aimed at addressing the gaps and deficiencies on compact impact reimbursements is still alive. "So it's still moving forward, the more recent development is I've been in constant communication with OIA, the office of insular affairs on the Compact issue," he said.

But it doesn't stop there as Clark says he's also in talks with Hawaii's director of policy Kendra Oishi who he will meet later this month to discuss reporting templates, considered the biggest challenges facing GovGuam and other affected jurisdictions. Hawaii he says had actually volunteered to initiate the process of working on a new template.

"So I wanted to take a look at their model and see what they're doing and also use that as a guide relative to what we want to do here, see what they're doing right copy those and see where we notice gaps in their process too and avoid similar gaps," he added.

According to Clark, Hawaii already has a Compact impact task force established. And just as he's reiterated before, while the federal government namely the OIA has been critical of reporting templates that Guam and Hawaii have been using, they refused to regenerate a suitable template and have left it to the islands to come up with one itself. These reports outline the impacts of the compacts and recommendations for corrective action.

And just as the efforts continue with leaders, a separate report was just issued today by the Government Accountability Office on Compact sector funds in the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia that continue to decline through Fiscal Year 2023. GAO was critical on data reliability hindering its assessment and the lack of plans to address the education and health sectors. FSM Consul General Robert Ruecho says the matter is surely of concern for the five FSM governments, saying, "All I can say is each government, is they have their own plans on how to face the decrease in Compact funding and the termination as far as funding in the year 2023, so they have their own plans."

Clark meanwhile says the GAO report's focus on data gathering in the FSM and RMI is a similar critique we have faced before. He adds the GAO report even notes a lack of oversight and that OIA is short staffed making him question if that's the real reason behind OIA's lack of assistance.

"At this point, we got to take the initiative and we can't keep waiting for the federal government because they told us they're not going to do it," he said. 

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