DOE gets procurement back...but at what cost?
by Nick Delgado
Guam - The Department of Education was given back full delegation over its procurement system today. The General Services Agency stepped in last year after a series of protests were filed against the agency. And there still some concern as to whether the public school system is even ready to take back the responsibility.
There had been talks for the past week about giving DOE back its procurement control, and today GSA Chief Procurement Officer Claudia Acfalle did just that. "They will be handling their own procurement issues or procurement processes, because they are decentralized and the superintendent has made it known to my administrator that she wish to the procurement staff back," she explained.
GSA took over procurement after several protests, appeals, and dragging work orders were reported. DOE Superintendent Dr. Nerissa Bretania Underwood says she constantly met with her staffers, who have been training with the GSA and says they are ready to come back. "I met with the procurement staff of DOE that was housed there under GSA; that was about a week-and-a-half ago. They were ready, they have learned a lot and they are actually ready to come back," she stated.
Earlier this month DOE hired a new supply manager to begin taking the lead on the department's procurement system. Just today, Underwood had her employees speak with GSA to ensure that the transition was a good decision. "I do know our legal counsel and Mrs. [Taling] Taitano was there this morning to meet with her and then asked if she felt that April 5 might be a better date. And she said no, she felt that today was the best day," he recalled.
Despite the GSA's efforts to support DOE, Acfalle admits she gave the delegation back today after hearing a constant blame game from DOE. "They're always blaming, its either GSA has a hiccup in the process or what have you," she said, adding, "that's why were not going to put up a fight about them going back because we're kind of frustrated, we're here with all good heart."
Acfalle says she wishes DOE luck, as there is still a lot more work and cleaning up needing to be done. Underwood, meanwhile, says that she is looking to hire at least three additional buyers to process requisitions in the Procurement Office.
It's been six months since DOE's delegation has been taken over by GSA, however, Acfalle says agencies such as the Port Authority of Guam will remain under her review until she feels that they are ready to take over for themselves. For the time being, some DOE officials tell KUAM News that they are hoping this procurement now under their agency will result in some progress and fixes from within the school.