Guam DOE Air-Conditioning Contract Reaches Solution

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Vendors compromise, 2,100 units to be installed in schools

By Dance Aoki

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Oct. 1, 2013) – Two local air-conditioning companies have reached a compromise, which will allow Guam’s public schools to install more than 2,100 air conditioners.

The announcement ends a procurement dispute that threatened $7.5 million in federal funding for the project.

The compromise between JMI Edison and J&B Modern Tech was announced first by the school system, then by JMI Vice President John Ilao.

Yesterday, the end of the fiscal year, was the deadline for the school system to spend federal funding for the project or risk returning it to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).

The installation of air-conditioning units was halted last month after JMI Edison protested the $10.9 million July contract between Guam DOE and J&B Modern Tech.

The Office of Public Accountability (OPA) last week decided that Guam DOE made an error and should have considered the $9 million bid submitted by JMI. It ordered the school system to reconsider all bids before awarding a contract. Public Auditor Doris Brooks last week said she was unaware federal funding was at risk.

"After a series of meetings, careful reflection about what would be best for Guam's school children, and a general spirit of compromise, JMI and J&B were finally able to set a path forward," Ilao said yesterday in a written statement.

He did not provide details about the agreement, but said it will allow the school system to move forward with a purchase order to J&B for more than 2,100 air conditioners.

Representatives from J&B could not be reached for comment.

Ilao said the resolution was due in part to the OPA's determination that JMI's protest of the contract was valid.

"JMI is grateful that the procurement protest process worked here, and stands ready to continue providing the quality products and services it has since 1978," Ilao said.

Superintendent Jon Fernandez, in a written statement, said both parties did the right thing.

"Our students and teachers have been patient enough," said Fernandez. "We appreciate what happens when people set aside their differences to place students and teachers first."

Fernandez said schools will start to see some relief over the next few months as the air conditioners are installed. The work should be finished in January, he said.

Meeting the deadline

The deadline to use the federal funds was extended twice since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act brought $60 million to Guam DOE in 2009, according to Pacific Daily News files.

After U.S. DOE granted the last extension at the request of Gov. Eddie Calvo, the governor said he wouldn't ask for another.

Students have been suffering through hot cafeterias and classrooms for months and, in some cases, years.

Guam's Every Child is Entitled to an Adequate Education Act requires classroom temperatures to be no higher than 78 degrees.

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