[lg policy] Saipan: Indigenous Affairs Office to take over Historic Preservation office, Arts Council, and Language Policy Commission

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 1 14:45:08 UTC 2011

Indigenous Affairs Office to take over three DCCA offices

By Moneth Deposa

Once the new fiscal year begins in October this year, three offices
under the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs will function
and operate under the jurisdiction of the Indigenous Affairs Office.

Press secretary Angel A. Demapan confirmed with the Saipan Tribune
yesterday that the Historic Preservation office, Arts Council, and
Language Policy Commission will be transferred to Office of Indigenous
Affairs starting Oct. 1.

The merger of these offices was among the recommendations of a desk
audit done by the Virginia-based Management Analysis Inc. last year.

“Heeding the recommendations of the organizational review conducted by
MAI, the administration seeks to implement the transfer of HPO from
DCCA to the Indigenous Affairs Office in time for the new fiscal
year,” said Demapan.

This is just one of several planned realignments in line with the
administration’s goal to recalibrate and streamline the structure of
the central government, he added.

The same report also recommended the transfer of the Arts Council and
the Chamorro Carolinian Language Policy Commission to the Indigenous
Affairs Office.

“These are things we are working on now ahead of the start of fiscal
year 2012. Ultimately, the goal is to 'right-size' the government and
to achieve greater efficiency,” said Demapan.

He said the governor may soon issue an executive order effecting the transfers.

“The administration is highly considering implementing these
recommendations at the start of fiscal year 2012. Most likely, the
administration looks to execute the realignment by way of an executive
order. Once the transfer is effectuated, then we’ll be able to
determine and quantify any savings that can be realized,” he said.

Early this year, the governor placed the Juvenile Detention Unit under
the Corrections Department-at the recommendation of MAI-to save on
costs and increase efficiency. The unit was formerly under the DCCA.

DCCA chief opposes transfer

DCCA Secretary Melvin Faisao expressed surprise yesterday with this
planned transfer and questioned the desk audit's recommendations,
describing its results as “flawed” as far as DCCA findings are

“I don't believe that all these offices duplicate one another's task
or function. And I am not also convinced that by transferring them to
the Indigenous Affairs Office will be a good cost-saving measure for
the government,” he said.

With the transfer of the three offices, DCCA will be left with only
three divisions: the Aging Office, Food Stamp, Child Care Program, and
Division of Youth Services.

Faisao conceded that the recent transfer of the Juvenile Detention
Unit to the Corrections Department has yielded positive results. “But
for these three others offices-HPO, Arts Council, and Language
Commission-I don't think it will be for the good of each program. I am
worried of the adverse effect the transfer could bring to these
programs,” he said.

Of particular concern to Faisao is the transfers' effect on the
federal grants being awarded to each program.

Faisao claim that he is not aware, nor informed, of the planned
transfer and expressed his opposition to the idea. He pointed out that
the Indigenous Affairs Office was created only as an advisory body.
Instead, he says it should be the Indigenous Affairs Office that
should be placed under DCCA.

Faisao said he will ask the administration to reconsider its planned transfers.

The last time a government-wide desk audit was done was in the early
1990s. It resulted in the enactment of Public Law 7-31 or the
Commonwealth Compensation Adjustment and Salary Act of 1991,
implementing across-the-board salary adjustments for government

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, in his first term in office, promised to make
the government more efficient, but it was only during his second term
that his administration was able to hire an independent firm to
conduct a desk audit.

Because of funding limitations, the desk audit only initially covered
the Department of Public Safety and DCCA, but more agencies will be
covered when more funding becomes available.


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