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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Inos to reprogram funds for random drug tests

Gov. Eloy S. Inos said yesterday his administration will reprogram funds to ensure government random drug tests will be administered this year, following reports that not even law enforcement personnel got randomly tested in at least a year as required by law because of lack of funds.

Office of Personnel Management director Isidro Seman said OPM needs “at least $14,000 to $15,000 a year” to administer random drug testing.

The governor believes the amount estimated by OPM is a “drop in the bucket,” and not funding the program is not worth the risk especially among law enforcement agencies.

“I think we should just go ahead and cut off some areas and just go with the random testing. That goes for every law enforcement agency,” Inos told Saipan Tribune at the Mount Carmel Diocesan Curia where he signed a proclamation declaring Jan. 27 to Feb. 1 Catholic Schools Week.

Inos said determining which agency, who, and when they will be required to undergo drug tests should be random.

Police officers have figured in drug-related cases and reports but even that did not prompt the government to set aside funds to ensure police officers get tested for drugs.

The Legislature has also not appropriated a single cent to ensure OPM is able to administer random drug testing.

Each drug test costs some $30.

Without actual governor’s reprogramming of funds, only the Department of Public Works is expected to have its personnel undergo random drug testing after DPW transferred $700 to OPM for the specific purpose.

OPM’s Seman said random drug testing is also especially important among personnel holding safety-sensitive positions such as those operating heavy equipment and school buses.

Seman confirmed Friday that not one agency had been subjected to random drug testing last year over lack of funds.

This comes days after Department of Public Safety Commissioner James Deleon Guerrero and Customs Services Division director Joe Mafnas told senators none of their personnel underwent random drug testing in at least a year.

Both Deleon Guerrero and Mafnas support a pending bill requiring mandatory drug testing among law enforcement agencies but were hoping the Legislature would also ensure there is funding to administer such program.

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