So who’s responsible for DISID?
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - Services for 67 clients of the Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities will continue as Acting Governor Ray Tenorio Friday signed-off on emergency procurement. But there's dispute over who dropped the ball and allowed the contracts to nearly expire putting the clients and programs in jeopardy.
For the last five months, the federal management team has spent a quarter of a million dollars to ensure that Catholic Social Services would continue to provide services to 67 clients of DISID. Dr. James Kiffer of the FMT says he agreed to provide funding temporarily to ensure the community habilitation and respite programs would not shut down. Attorney Daniel Somerfleck, who represents several consumers who sued the government, explains the importance of the programs, saying, "The community habilitation program is generally for very serious disabled individual. It provides a means for the individuals to receive community habilitation in other words to receive the life skills that they need so that they can be more independent. At the same time it provides an opportunity for the families to continue to care."
Dr. Kiffer says the FMT agreed to fund the programs while DISID agreed to work on the request for proposals, but he maintains contracts were never awarded. He doesn't believe the RFPs are the responsibility of the federal management team as the community habilitation and respite programs, Kiffer says, are not mentioned in the plan of action of the amended permanent injunction.
So why pay for the programs when it doesn't have to do with what was ordered by the court? Kiffer says he agreed because the programs were funded in DISID's budget and he was told the department would reimburse the FMT the $250,000 it paid over the last five months. Kiffer says he was just doing a favor for disid to bring the programs back from the brink of closing.
"To say it was a favor and it was DISID's responsibility, to me, seems to be that we need to replace this federal management team very quickly," he said. "It's my opinion that they were supposed to do it. These RFPs have been an ongoing issue for this management team. That they haven't been able to get the RFPs out, they haven't filed the permanent injunction as far as communicating and providing an open forum for the public to come in and talk about the RFPs."
Somerfleck believes it is the federal management team's role to enter in and manage these types of programs and says the recent situation is a further example of why the FMT must be removed. "They're pointing fingers at everyone else only leads in my minds eye to say point the finger right back at yourself because this is the ticket you signed up for. This is the ticket you have been receiving a large salary for and where's the product we've been anticipating and that's really what I find the most frustrating is if you're gonna draw out $30,000 for yourself, do $30,000 worth of work," he said.
Kiffer, however, maintains he was simply trying to do the right thing by assisting DISID in their time of need. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall meanwhile continues to review requests for the removal of the federal management team.
As for the $250,000 that the FMT used of permanent injunction money to pay for the programs to continue, Kiffer says he sought reimbursement from DISID but was told by director Ben Servino that they would not be paying that money back.