Over 140 participants from all over the Pacific region graced yesterday's opening of the historic five-day 2012 Pacific Islands Preparedness Emergency Response regional meeting at the Kanoa Resort in Susupe.
Warren Villagomez, emergency preparedness program director for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., said he is delighted to see the participation of visiting partners from neighboring island nations and representatives of local government partners in the Commonwealth.
Corporation CEO Juan N. Babauta recognized visiting officials from the federal procurement and grants management program who facilitated the event's opening sessions: Allison Johnson and Glynnis Taylor.
According to Villagomez, the CNMI's emergency preparedness program receives over $600,000 in federal grants each year. Yesterday's workshop on the proper administration of federal grants, he said, will further strengthen the program's compliance with standards and requirements of granting agencies, besides opening up more opportunities for federal aid.
For Villagomez, the CNMI's emergency preparedness and response program has stood the test of time.
“I think we're standing up. Each jurisdiction has unique challenges and it involves culture of the islands. There are different dynamics that we need to adopt to make sure we don't leave anybody behind,” said Villagomez.
After this weeklong workshop, Villagomez is confident in the further growth of all emergency and preparedness programs throughout the Pacific region.
Johnson emphasized that grant recipients, once ready to drawdown federal monies, are fully accountable for the award and are expected to adhere to all the grant's conditions and requirements. She said the goal of the federal health agency is to make each island successful in managing federal dollars.
“The goal of CDC [Centers for Disease Control] is to make sure you are successful because your success is our success,” she told the crowd composed of officials and representatives from the CNMI, Guam, Hawaii, Marshall Islands, Palau, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
Johnson gave attendees an overview of the Procurement and Grants Office, which supports CDC in accomplishing its public health mission and ensures the integrity, efficiency, and effectiveness of CDC's financial grants. She also shared the organization's funding history as well as the laws, regulations, and policies in place.
According to Johnson, the purpose of grants management is to coordinate the business, administration, and financial aspects of federal awards. She also explained the grants management process and the importance of writing and completing grant applications, preparing budget guidelines, reporting requirements, and progress reports, among others.
Today, the workshop will focus on the Strategic National Stockpile warehouse operations, inventory management, site security training, and SNS antibiotic dispensing. The conference will last until Friday, Oct. 26.