OPA, GEC present budgets to lawmakers - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

OPA, GEC present budgets to lawmakers

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - A second week of hearings continued today for the next fiscal year's budget requests for the departments and agencies of the Government of Guam this time with the Office of Public Accountability and the Guam Election Commission.  

Following last week's budget hearing with the island's mayors, the OPA took to the hot seat today before Senator Ben Pangelinan's Office of Finance and Appropriations.

"For the past several years, OPA has faced staffing challenges and retaining senior auditors," said public auditor Doris Flores Brooks, adding that her $1.4 million budget request would give the OPA greater independence and flexibility in staff compensation and hiring - a problem that continues to today. In fact, just last week another one of her experienced audit supervisors tendered his resignation for a higher paying job. "The gaps and years of experience between 10 years and less than 2 years is reflective of experienced auditors leaving mainly to autonomous agencies for higher pay the average pay increase for those who have left OPA is greater than $16,000," she noted.

Of her staff, only two audit supervisors have 10 years of experience. She further told the committee that the newly implemented hay study does not address the gap in salaries offered by autonomous agencies adding the OPA has appealed the hay implementation and submitted its own compensation review. And while the budget request would help with pay, it's not the only challenge she faces. "Another staffing challenge is the inordinate amount of time to hire in the classified service due to the complex and bureaucratic hiring procedures of the Department of Administration," said Brooks.

Meanwhile, the GEC also went before the committee requesting for $1.1 million, a 9% increase from FY14. "The increase stems from the full implementation of the Hay Pay plan for 14 full time positions of which four will expire after the 2014 elections," said executive director Maria Pangelinan. She further requested for additional funds to pay for prior year obligations not included in the $1.1 million. She had brought up the $375,000 additional request during last year's public hearing on the legislation to fund new tabulation equipment. And with two elections set for the next five months, Pangelinan says the request will help pay for staff who keep busy all year long.

"Our year round employees, the 10 of us, keep busy throughout the year, and we do due diligence to make sure the monies spent at the GEC is toward the continual election process for fair and honest elections throughout the years," she said.

The next budget hearings are set for June 6 with the Unified Judiciary of Guam, Public Defender Service Cooperation and the Attorney General's Office.
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