GAO report reaffirms needs for infrastructure improvements
by Jolene Toves
Guam - Following a visit to Guam in April the United States Government Accountability Office issued a report on the island's civilian infrastructure requirements and costs for the Department of Defense's plans for the Marines realignment from Okinawa to Guam.
In spite of the announcement in 2012 of a revised realignment plan to move smaller amount of Marines to Guam from Japan a report issued today by the GAO reaffirms improvements to the island's utilities, health care system, the Port Authority and an increase in public safety personnel are needed. Meanwhile the Governor's Buildup Office director Mark Calvo says he does not have concerns about funding and infrastructure. He said, "The main concern is as you know in the seven days an effort that started at the house to fund and open some restrictions that were place in previous national authorization acts for build up spending on Guam are looked to be lifted a few restrictions and in the next day or so they expect senate to move on that House action."
Calvo says signing off would show clear indication of a move forward in the build up with specific construction funding which is appropriated for 2014. The GAO study was critical of the DOD and its need to revalidate its public infrastructure based on the revised realignment plan agreed upon in 2012. Noting that dod has failed to differentiate between requirements needed to address long-standing conditions and those related to the realignment, one of which relates to the cost of improvements for water and waste water systems which the study has called not reliable.
He said, "Its very accurate what we provided to the auditors was a recap of what we believed the impacts would be outside the fence line to our utilities and our social economic areas and the argument is the buildup has changed," adding, "but the location of those marines have not been finalized the exact number and specifics of where they'll located and where the ranges will be and then with that the impacts specifically to water and waste water requirements for that new base 1913
Committee chair Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. says this report is very similar to other reports in the past, saying, "One the thing about this is now that the figures have been reduced from 10,000 Marines down to 4,700 with 1,300 dependents now we as a community need to go back and reconfigure exactly what the impact will be in terms of infrastructure."
Senator Aguon says social, cultural, and overall community impacts needs to be looked at to identify a figure to push to congress for funding those impacts the military re-alignment will have...he adds that is an area of contention in the report that won't be revealed until the supplemental environmental impact study is completed.
Commenting on the GAO report Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo said it does a good job in highlighting that the Department of Defense has historically supported civilian infrastructure needs. As well as highlights that infrastructure improvements are needed now or it could degrade the readiness and capability of the military posture on Guam. The congresswoman says she will continue to work with the Obama Administration to support infrastructure needs on Guam.