By Troy Torres
(Tumon, Guam) The University of Guam has posted an initial response to a growing credit card scandal involving the use of several government-issued credit cards on questionable purchases. Thus far, Kandit News has brought you three stories in this scandal:
UOG last night responded on its Facebook page with the following message:
"UOG credit card statements and purchases were presented without context as to why and for what purpose purchases were made. All of the items listed in the statements were purchased and regulated based on University policy.
"UOG policy strictly prohibits any personal purchases made by cash, check, or credit card using UOG funds.
"UOG is a complex organization. Its day-to-day operations include the procurement of widely varying products, services, and equipment to meet its academic, research, and service missions.
"This means that depending on the requirements of a program or activity, UOG could purchase anything from pizza to sports equipment to plane tickets to health and wellness services to high-powered microscopes.
"The University’s credit card and purchase card policies control allowable purchases, limit spending, and protect the integrity of the procurement process while giving UOG personnel the ability to conduct business efficiently."
Kandit spoke with Jonas Macapinlac, the university's spokesman, today and asked him for specific responses regarding the purchase of plane tickets, the spa day, and the Macy's purchases. He was able to speak to the travel charges right away, telling us that the credit card transactions for the plane tickets are made from the university's main credit card and that it represents ticket purchases for several people. Kandit will spend more time in the future inquiring about the amount of travel UOG personnel avail of.
Mr. Macapinlac said that it may take him some time to gather information regarding the Macy's and spa charges, but that he would be providing a statement as soon as that information becomes available.
Kandit also asked him about a previously unreported finding in the stack of credit card transactions we have reviewed.
Three credit card transactions for identical amounts were made on May 20, 2017at the Westin Hotel with a government-issued credit card. Each of the three transactions were for $1,431.90, and all three show the same reference numbers in the Bank of Guam credit card statements to UOG for the June 2017 statement, with a notation: "CHECK-IN 05/14/17."
Mr. Macapinlac earlier this evening was able to track this information down and wrote to Kandit, telling us:
"The charges to the Westin Resort Guam were for hotel rooms for three consultants from the Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC). The team worked with UOG IT personnel over five days to make major improvements to the campus network infrastructure. The upgrades prepared the campus to begin the development of an advanced network capable of supporting high-speed exchanges of very large scientific data sets between UOG and other US research institutions."
Kandit continues its review of the ream-sized stack of credit card transactions dating back three years. We have not yet delved into the matter of sourcing prior to purchases and what rules the university must adhere to with regard to procurement.