Fernandez working to get DOE off high-risk status - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Fernandez working to get DOE off high-risk status

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 by Isa Baza

Guam - Department of Education superintendent Jon Fernandez is back on island after a trip to the nations' capitol to discuss the agency's finances. Just last week superintendent Fernandez returned from a trip to Washington, DC where he met with federal officials.

"We were there to meet with officials from the US Department of Education on both our consolidated grant which is our annual grant that we get every year, it's about $25 million that comes into Guam and we use those funds to support many of our programs in our schools," he explained.

He spent a few days reviewing this grant and discussing how these investments could better align with DOE's strategic plan, saying, "Then we also took a chance to meet with our risk management services officials at the department to talk about our high-risk status."

DOE has been under high-risk status since 2003, and has been working with a third-party fiduciary since 2010, which means DOE pays $3 million-$4 million for this service per year. Fernandez said he is working aggressively to change this. "In some areas we're pretty much ahead of where we want to be so in those areas we'll be moving toward local control and that means we'll be operating those activities and the third-party will be monitoring and providing some oversight there are some areas where we're a little behind, where the third-party will continue to execute our activities," he said.

A detailed plan was developed to prepare DOE staff before a visit by federal officials this coming summer. The visit will determine whether DOE will begin taking on functions from the third-party. "Now the reality is, from the year 2000 to today, we've gone from an agency that was un-auditable to an agency with clean audits on the financial side and on the compliance side we've moved from an agency that had $2 million in questionable costs, to a measly amount of $2,000, and that's really a tiny amount given that we're a $250 million agency," he said.

With the improvements that DOE has made over the past few years, as well as a positive reception during the last meeting in DC, Fernandez hopes that DOE's high-risk status will be reconsidered, and local control returned to the department. 
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