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Bill seeks to revamp procurement policy

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Within the first week of the new legislative term, senators have introduced close to two dozen bills. Many of which are a rehash of measures from the last term. At least one bill is aiming to reform the island's decades old procurement law.    

John Thomas Brown says after 32 years, it's time to finally reform Guam's procurement law. "Well we've learned from it - we've learned its shortcomings, it's been changed in various times and various small ways and some ways have been inconsistent and it's time to take another comprehensive look at it," he said.

Brown is the general counsel and vice president of the Jones & Guerrero Company and is considered a local procurement expert. He says Bill 20 which he helped craft is part of the solution in updating the law. "Bill 20 is about streamlining the effects of the procurement process at the protest level, the review of the procurement solicitation as well as a review of controversies regarding contracting disputes and debarment suspension disputes," he added.

Bill 20 was introduced by Senator Tom Ada on Friday and amends the legal and contractual remedies provided in Guam's procurement law. In a release, the oversight chair says the objective of the measure is to expedite the resolution of protests and vendor performance so that the government can "provide the vital services in a timely and cost effective manner." If Bill 20 sounds familiar, it's because it's a re-introduction of Bill 224 introduced in late 2013.

Brown explained, "There are a lot of small and large compromise made throughout the four roundtables and two hearings that have considered the matter and we felt we had gotten through all of that (Bill 224) was passed unanimously by the legislature but at the very last hour, at the last day last year, it was vetoed by the governor who still had problems with two other issues and those have been compromises to reflect the governor's concerns."

In Ada's release, he notes one concern raised in the governor's veto letter pertained to the question of who can file a bid protest. The second concern deals with a provision that would have required a ratification of the governor's declaration of emergency in order to lift a stay of procurement. Brown in the meantime says the goal of Bill 20 is to not eliminate procurement protests, but rather expedite the process because as the island's seen time and time again, it can drag on.

"We want to mediate these disputes before they end up in the black hole of the advocacy system," he said.

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