THOSE of you who have been following my legislative career since 2007 will recall that I’ve always favored such concepts as government ‘rightsizing’ and modernization of our GovGuam laws which are stuffed with antiquated and underused provisions, many of which cost plenty of money to leave on the books for long forgotten purposes.
And then there are the administrative rules put forth by our many GovGuam agencies, many intended to solve temporary problems that have long since ceased to be problems.
A good, brisk housekeeping would have gotten rid of these out-of-date and no longer needed items a long time ago, but until 2007 there wasn’t a mechanism to do this. Unfortunately, the GovGuam Modernization and Right-Sizing Commission law that I authored back then and got through the Legislature hasn’t become a reality. The previous and current governor haven’t appointed commission members or otherwise breathed life into it.
I know the problems created by our current government structure and the statutes and regulations that underpin it are important to you, because I’ve heard constituent complaints about them. From their point of view, the talk seems to turn rapidly to laying off government employees as a quick fix, rather than figuring out longer term structural problems that may reduce the size and cost of our government more than abrupt layoffs.
So I think that now, as the specter of GovGuam layoffs is before us again, the Modernization and Rightsizing Commission of the Government of Guam for the Twenty-first (21st) Century and Beyond [COMRIGHT21] must become a reality. Through Bill No. 445-31 (COR) I want to refocus attention on existing laws and department and agency regulations and mandates that have accumulated since the civilian government of Guam took effect on Aug.1, 1950. This legal audit is critical if we are serious about designing a strategically focused new government of Guam.
This law, as amended, will require a lot of work:
“All administrators, directors or equivalent executives of all executive branch entities shall, within ninety (90) days of enactment of this Act, review their organization’s purpose, structure and areas of responsibilities and all mandates relative to their respective entity for the purpose of recommending amendments to, or the repealing of statutes or functions as mandated.”
If these reviewers find items in the law that are antiquated, unfunded, over-funded or contrary to the core mission of the individual entities, they will then buck these recommendations to “COMRIGHT21” for consideration. And this review will take place every three years.
Meanwhile, the seven members of the Commission will gather other information and recommendations for GovGuam from members of the public, in venues such as public hearings.
The resulting recommendations from the members to the governor and Legislature may include combining functions of agencies, cutting their staff, or eliminating them completely. Other recommendations may cover matters such as more economical government purchasing and standardization of salaries, equipment and policies through GovGuam.
After its first year, COMRIGHT21 will convene every three years to consider further reforms and recommendations.
I have great hopes for COMRIGHT21, which I believe is the right approach at the right time. We must look to the future to resolve the problems that past legislation and government actions have left us with, and this is the kind of meaningful action that will solve them.
Sen. Judith Paulette Guthertz, DPA, chairs the 31st Guam Legislature’s Committee on the Guam Military Buildup and Homeland Security. Send feedback to senatorjudiguthertz[at]gmail.com.