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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Guam Port Authority’s Hiring Practices Scrutinized
Recently-hired accountants allegedly ‘unqualified’

By Steve Limtiaco

HAGTA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 14, 2012) – Port Authority of Guam staffing patterns show the accounting office that processes the port's expenses doubled in size during the past year, after years of operating with only three or four employees.

The Port recently hired four unqualified employees, including two accountants, according to the Civil Service Commission, which reviewed the hiring process for seven port employees at the request of port management.

The accountants didn't meet minimum education requirements for their jobs, according to the commission. The Port in May started an external review of port hiring after it was discovered that the Port had rehired a cargo checker who failed to pass a mandatory federal background check.

The names of the employees who were the subject of the Civil Service audit are confidential, but commission Executive Director Alberto "Tony" Lamorena described them as recently hired.

The port's staffing pattern shows a recent increase in accounting staff in an office that had been running with a supervisor, an accountant and an accounting technician.

The port's "expense accounting section," which between 2007 and late 2011 operated with only three or four employees, added five employees between Oct. 1, 2011, and March 31, 2012, staffing patterns show.

Four of those employees are new. The other is an existing port accounting employee who was transferred from a different section, staffing patterns show.

The four new employees in the expense accounting section include: two accountant II's, one accounting technician and one clerk.

The accountant II's were added in late 2011, sometime between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, according to staffing patterns. Pedro Leon Guerrero was the port's general manager at the time.

The accounting technician and the clerk were added in early 2012, sometime between Jan. 1 and March 31, according to staffing patterns. Leon Guerrero was general manager part of that time, but he was replaced in early February by General Manager Mary Torres.

The cost of salaries and benefits for the accounting section more than doubled because of the additional employees.

It cost $178,921 a year to pay the section's three employees as of September 2011. It cost $414,414 a year to pay the section's eight employees, as of September 2012.

Port officials yesterday were unable to provide a reason for the additional staffing and costs in the port's expense accounting section.

Port General Manager Joanne Brown, who replaced Torres at the port on Monday, said she would need more time to answer the question, but that it raises some issues.

Port board Chairman Dan Tydingco yesterday said the port is working to correct the hiring deficiencies identified by the Civil Service Commission.

Of the seven port personnel files examined by Civil Service, four employees -- the two accountants and two stevedores -- didn't meet minimum job requirements, according to the commission.

Tydingco said the board had instructed the port general manager to work with the commission and the Department of Administration to audit personnel files, and it was port management that decided which files to send out for review.

Tydingco said it is important to ensure the port's personnel office is "doing everything straight and correct."

"There were significant flaws in the personnel process," Tydingco said. "We don't want anybody to cast any shadow on the employees who are working down there."

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