HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 5) - There has been some recent forward movement to privatize the Port Authority of Guam, which has been long overdue.

Sen. Randall Cunliffe introduced Bill 137, which would require the port to issue a privatization request for proposals within 90 days. Michael Henderson, spokesman of the Port Authority, said a privatization RFP is being finalized and will be voted on at a board meeting next week.

The port is another example of the long-standing inefficiency of the government when it tries to run business interests through its agencies. Privatization of the facility will not only result in more efficient and effective port operations, but also will provide sorely needed economic stimulation.

What is required is follow-up and follow-through on the proposals and discussions. Elected officials have talked about privatizing agencies and services for a long time, but the actions taken to date have been slim to none. Years after discussions began on privatizing the water system and the telephone utility, both entities remain under government control, and privatization of cafeteria services in public schools has stalled.

Beyond implementation, our government officials need to make sure that the process is done correctly, ensuring procurement procedures are followed and that any RFP lacks even the appearance of being written for one particular contractor. We don't want to get nearly all the way there and then have legal issues put us back at square one, with all the work for naught.

There also must be assurances that we get a private partner that is familiar with joint-use port procedures and that it is experienced with federal funding and grant opportunities, because Guam shares its facilities with the military. This qualification isn't a bonus, it's a requirement.

Privatization will mean government savings and an economic boon. It is definitely needed -- we just need to ensure that it is done correctly.

December 5, 2003

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