By Nancy I. Maanao
Pay raises received by the former executive director of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority will be the subject of the next and final audit of autonomous agency heads's hiring and salary increases. This is according to information from an editorial Public Auditor Benjamin J.F. Cruz wrote in response to an editorial from the Guam Daily Post.
"In June 2019, [Office of Public Accountability] analyzed the staffing patterns of 16 autonomous agencies and identified the top four agencies with the highest number of salary adjustments – Guam Power Authority, Guam Waterworks Authority, Port Authority of Guam, and the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority – and determined to focus our limited resources on them. Due to the complexity and uniqueness of each agency and its actions, OPA decided to issue a series of audits to detail what transpired." - Cruz
Mr. Cruz issued audits on illegal pay raises at GPA and GWA, which resulted in the amounts being paid back. Last week he issued a performance audit, which found former seaport general manager Joanne Brown was hired illegally, and received several illegal pay raises retroactively.
The circumstances surrounding the raises in those three agencies are nearly identical to the circumstances involving the pay raises given to GHURA's former executive director, Michael Duenas.
Mr. Cruz said his office and the Attorney General's Office joined forces in November last year to recover what has been illegally granted, and to restore a measure of trust in the government.
"In November 2019, the OPA and the Office of the Attorney General teamed up to tackle the misuse of government funds and uphold the rule of law. In a joint press release, our offices specifically stated we “will review the practices of government agencies to determine if they are following the laws on paying government officials.” The issue and legality of certain pay raises and bonuses in the Government of Guam, whether at GPA, GWA, or PAG, have been brewing for years, and the people of Guam are fed up.
"GHURA will be the third and final report and will be issued before the end of the fiscal year," the public auditor wrote.