Marianas Business Journal

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Oct. 11, 2010) – The government of Guam is facing yet another class action before the Superior Court over unpaid merit bonuses that the complaint said should have been received by more than 500 classified employees in 1991.

Each of the plaintiffs was due to receive a 3.5 percent automatic bonus by virtue of their "superior rating evaluations," according to the lawsuit filed by the lead plaintiff Marylou S. Gogo, an administrative assistant with the Bureau of Statistics and Plans.

The class includes employees of the Department of Administration, Guam Memorial Hospital Administration, Guam Economic Development Authority, Guam Department of Education, University of Guam, and Guam Community College.

The lawsuit was filed on the heels of reports that three key cabinet officials and the public auditor received a combined total of more than US$12,000 in cash bonuses in 2007. Those receiving the "rewards" were Public Auditor Doris Brooks, Department of Revenue and Taxation Director Art Ilagan, Department of Administration Director Lourdes Perez, and Bureau of Budget and Management Director Bertha Duenas.

The four officials reportedly received the bounties as a result of the government of Guam getting the "first-ever clean audit" in fiscal 2007, obviously a surprising feat that Gov. Felix P. Camacho described as "historic accomplishment."

It doesn’t exactly speak well of the government’s financial management performance if one clean audit is described as "historic." And for top government officials to reward themselves with additional pay checks for a "job well done" leaves a bad taste in the mouth considering that GovGuam was in fiscal distress during that year. It would, however, have been a different story if the government was in good shape.

Just the same, it’s funny how government officials are quick to gratify directors but not levy a penalty if something is amiss. For example, no director of delinquent departments took the mandated 20 percent pay cut as a penalty for non-compliance with the financial reporting requirement.

Government officials cannot and should not pick the laws they want to follow.

And again, it would have been a different story if giving bonuses due to deserving individuals is done in a fair manner - not just to the ones in power.

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