Pacific Daily News

HAGATNIA, Guam (Oct. 10) – The government of Guam could be a smaller, and thus a less costly, entity that delivers an adequate level of service with greater efficiency. Unfortunately, there has never been any real commitment and thus substantive action to efficiently reorganize and streamline the government.

The previous administration spent untold amounts of money and man-hours to craft a reorganization plan that resulted in little more than the addition of a new government agency - the Office on Reorganization, complete with director and staff.

On Friday, Gov. Felix Camacho unveiled his administration's plan for "transforming government," which included legislation to create seven new umbrella departments under which to consolidate 20 agencies, as well as seven new directors -- one for each of the new departments.

"What we are starting today is more than just shifting and maximizing resources," Camacho said in a statement. "We are beginning the process of transforming this government and changing the way it serves our people."

But the reorganization includes no accountable, specific plan or timeline for the elimination of positions, unless and except by attrition. In fact, it adds NEW positions -- the "super directors" of these new umbrella departments and other supervisory positions.

If several agencies are combined under one department and there are similar, if not redundant, positions at each of those agencies, none of the employees in those positions will lose their jobs, according to the governor. The plan says directors can "consolidate redundancies," but that cannot be done without creating redundancy. If you have three people doing essentially the same job, and only need one person to do it, how can you consolidate the redundancy unless you get rid of two jobs?

Savings to the government of Guam, according to the reorganization plan, "will be achieved over time," but nowhere does it say how much time or how much of a reduction. To effectively reduce costs and generate savings, you have to make at least some cuts. You can't "streamline" an agency just by merging it with another agency or two unless you actually eliminate redundancies, which means eliminating positions.

This reorganization plan is nowhere near complete. The administration plans for a series of public hearings, so there still is a chance to truly streamline the government. But to do that, elected officials will have to have the courage to accept that reducing the size of government will have to mean making real and substantive cuts, including the elimination of redundant positions.

October 10, 2005

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