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Feds on Guam evaluating Department of Education

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - Oftentimes it's the other way around, but for the Department of Education it's exam week-at the head of the class the federal government. "I've encouraged all my employees to make sure that this is not a dog and pony show," explained superintendent Jon Fernandez.

He plans to tell it like it is and he wants his employees to do the same. On island are representatives from the US Department of Education's Risk Management Services Division.  Mark Robinson and Christine Jackson are on Guam specifically to evaluate how far DOE has come along in efforts to get off its high risk grantee status. A designation they've have had since 2004 and with little improvement five years later DOE was placed under a third-party fiduciary agent. "In 2009 they came for a validation visit and found that even though we were reporting improvements that the reality was much different and that we weren't making the progress that we stated so for that reason they felt they needed to put a third-party fiduciary agent in place to be responsible for monitoring and approving our expenditures of federal funds," he said.

Fernandez says he had his first meeting with USDOE this morning and that over the next couple days those meetings will extend to staff and employees in doe central and in the schools. "This is an opportunity to show the us-doe what we've been doing over the last couple of years what we've learned what we are continuing to implement and then challenges ahead that they need their help to resolve," he said.

Assistance particularly in what Fernandez calls trouble spots such as persistent challenges in the Business Office, procurement and other areas related to fixed assets. They're problems, however that DOE is trying to address, with the superintendent noting, "We do have an internal audit office that we are ramping up and building capacity by hiring auditors and focusing them on the findings in our audit and our material weakness and so forth. So I think that if we push that office to really do the monitoring and we'll no longer need a third party to do that for us."

Fernandez is aggressively moving to get DOE off high-risk grantee status in the coming year. As for the team from USDOE they will be on Guam through July 9. 
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