Government reorganization: so often preached, so rarely practiced

by Ken Wetmore, KUAM News
Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Politicians love to talk about government reorganization, but rarely do they act. And when they do, rarely is it meaningful. During the 27th Guam Legislature there was a lot of talk about reorganization, but the then-senators never created their own reorg plan. The Camacho Administration says they've come up with a plan, but so far they've only revealed part of it.

Both the Camacho Administration and the 28th Guam Legislature are again saying reorganization is on the way. As such, here's a look at a radical bill submitted by Republican senator Robert Klitzkie who chairs the 28th Legislature's Committee on Reorganization.

Reorganization by executive order is what Senator Klitzkie's Bill 14 would allow. The measure gives the Governor broad powers when it comes to reorganization, with only an executive order and a single public hearing. Senator Klitzkie has dubbed Bill 14 "The Government Priorities Act of 2005", and contained inside the legislation is the ability for the governor to outsource, privatize, abolish agencies, have other agencies absorb functions, reduce the public sector's workforce and transfer appropriations.

The measure hasn't had a public hearing yet and is actually a resubmission from the 27th Legislature. Said Senator Klitzkie, "That bill was introduced in June 8th of 2003, the times were a little different than they are now - perhaps the bill does go farther than it needs to go. I've talked to some of my colleagues, we'll give it a public hearing, which it never had during the 27th Guam Legislature, take some input from the public hearing, we may have to amend the bill or do a substitute version to tailor it to the situation we have now."

One of Senator Klitzkie's colleagues that has some concerns is Speaker Mark Forbes, who said, "There's a lot that's in the bill that's very good." He continued, "A lot of the impediments that he wants to remove to reorganizing are good things and the essence of the bill is very positive. I do think personally its going to require some amendment, especially the manner in which basically he has reorganization occurring by executive order, I think its a little bit more complex than that."

While some senators may not be fans of giving complete and unfettered control of reorganization completely to the Governor, the island's chief executive himself clearly is a big fan of the concept, saying Senator Klitzkie's measure is a breath of fresh air. "I'm excited by it," said Governor Felix Camacho. "I'm in full support of the good senator's bill. It gives us the flexibility through executive order to begin the reorganization process and immediately we will engage of course the committee that was put together, primarily private sector people that have come together over the last really year and a half, they've put a lot of time and effort into this and it would really give us an opportunity to move forward quickly."

The Camacho Administration's reorganization plan calls for the Government of Guam's 50+ agencies to be combined into 12-cabinet level departments. While the Governor had submitted 2 of an anticipated 11 bills to bring about his plan to the 27th Guam Legislature, he won't be resubmitting those bills or submitting the other nine to the least not for now.

Camacho says if Senator Klitzkie's measure passes as is, there is no need, as he will be able to accomplish his plan by executive order. So the Governor intends to wait and see what happens to the Government Priorities Act of 2005.

A public hearing on Bill 14 has not yet been scheduled.

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