Pacific Daily News

HAGATNA, Guam (Sept. 16) - There is a bit of good news related to the government of Guam's finances -- the Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs is giving Guam an $800,000 grant to upgrade computers at the Department of Administration and the Department of Revenue and Taxation.

Interior officials said the assistance was to replace obsolete computers at the two agencies, although it also can be used to train GovGuam employees in using the new systems.

Rev and Tax and the Department of Administration have both had their share of problems with computers and software. Technical assistance grants from the Interior Department were used to purchase DOA's $4.5-million Oracle-based system, which was an utter operational failure and led to a shortage of government financial data. The tax agency's computer system has gone down several times recently, making Rev and Tax unable to process driver's licenses and vehicle registrations.

The Camacho administration was able to work with the federal government on this -- in spite of past problems with how Interior money was wasted on non-working computer systems -- and even received approval to use $181,232 in unused grant money to improve fiscal management in GovGuam agencies.

The key now is for GovGuam to learn from past mistakes with computers -- not only the Oracle-based system, but Public Health's failed Agupa system -- and ensure they are not repeated. We must ensure that this new money is used for systems that work so that the Interior Department won't have any problem following up on its promise to provide additional money for similar projects in the future.

To get out of its financial black hole, it's critical that the government of Guam have reliable financial data to use. We simply can't afford to make future critical decisions based on guesswork or weak estimations.

Camacho did well in securing this money. Now he has to ensure that the government of Guam uses it wisely and gets every penny's worth from the grant.

September 16, 2003

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