The investigation on the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.'s voided contract with International Consulting Services is ongoing, according to Attorney General Joey San Nicolas. However, he could not immediately give a timeframe as to when the process will be completed.
Idaho-based ICS secured a six-year sole-source contract with the corporation in February 2012 to do billing and collection for the hospital.
Former attorney general Edward T. Buckingham later determined the contract to be costly and unlawful and he issued a cease-and-desist order.
The fallout from that failed deal resulted in the sudden termination of the hospital's chief operating officer, James Phillips, as he was the direct contact for the agreement and the matter was referred to the Office of the Attorney General for prosecution.
At a recent board meeting, corporation trustees expressed concern about the status of the OAG investigation following the relocation of Buckingham.
Saipan Tribune learned that ICS got an advanced payment of $37,000 for work it didn't actually do. It was also recently disclosed that the corporation wrongfully deposited about $150,000 to an ICS account.
CHCC CEO Juan N. Babauta, during the board's last meeting, said that he and other corporation officials were interviewed in 2012 by the Office of the Public Auditor and OAG about the ICS contract. The board later instructed Babauta to follow up on the matter with OAG and OPA.
Meantime, the board's special committee that is evaluating Babauta's performance confirmed with Saipan Tribune that it will resume the process this week.
The committee was supposed to meet on March 5 to assess the result of an employees' survey conducted by the board on the three islands. This was postponed after panel chair Pete Dela Cruz's flight from Rota was cancelled.
Dela Cruz said the evaluation process will resume Wednesday, March 13, in time for the panel's report and recommendation to the full board on Friday.
“The survey is complete but not counted. The committee as a whole will review. This will assure fairness and no hanky-panky, as some people will claim, no matter what we do,” he told Saipan Tribune. Babauta's $96,000 contract as CEO is expiring in July this year.
Board chair Joaquin Torres said last week that the board temporarily postponed action on Babauta's contract at the request of Gov. Eloy S. Inos, who wants Babauta to focus on the exit of the commissioned corps team.