By Johnnie Rosario
Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero's staff grew by 12 percent since she came to office, according to a count of active employees contributing to the Retirement Fund. She came to office with a staff of 114 people, and as of June 30, 2020, her staff grew by 15 to 129 employees.
Of the 32 executive, semi-autonomous, and autonomous agencies under her political control, nearly two-thirds hired more employees since Ms. Leon Guerrero became the governor. There are 351 new employees, to be exact, in her administration to date.
By contrast, of the 10 executive branch autonomous agencies over which she has no control, nine of them reported major decreases in their employee count.
The agency under the governor's control with the single largest increase in the number of employees, is the Guam Memorial Hospital, which had 939 employees in January 2019, and today has 1,112 employees. That is an increase of 173 employees, or a 16 percent difference.
The agencies with the largest proportion of hiring are the Department of Labor, which boasts a 34 percent increase in personnel, and the Department of Chamorro Affairs, with a 24 percent increase.
By comparison, essential agencies like the Guam Police Department and the Department of Corrections saw only a three percent and 14 percent increase, respectively, while the Guam Fire Department actually lost nine employees.
While the governor's staff increased, Lt. Gov. Joshua Tenorio's staff decreased by 17 percent.
The Department of Education is showing a drop in employee count of 748 personnel, but the Retirement Fund notes that this is due to the June 30, 2020 count reflecting summer months, when several DOE employees are not on the rolls.
Other autonomous agencies that are outside the governor's reach are reporting major drops in personnel, including 52 fewer employees at the University of Guam, 26 fewer at Guam Community College, 32 fewer at the Mayors Council of Guam, and 19 fewer at Guam Power Authority.
The Public Defender's office has lost 15 percent of its staff, and the public auditor has lost eight percent of his staff.
The pervasive hiring throughout the Leon Guerrero administration flies in the face of two facts:
The government of Guam is facing a $47 million budget shortfall; and
More than half of the private sector workforce was laid off during the public health emergency.
The addition of 351 people to the employment rolls in the agencies Ms. Leon Guerrero exerts control does not factor the number of new employees to fill vacancies that occurred since she's been in office.