ARPA generates over 500 jobs in Executive Branch

Desk audits for DOC, DPS completed

The American Rescue Plan Act continued to play a vital role in the CNMI’s workforce, generating well over 500 jobs in the Executive Branch alone, according to the Office of Personnel Management’s Citizen-Centric Report for Fiscal Year 2022.

OPM’s report stated that combined funding sources of general funds and federally funded sources allowed for 185 examination announcements to be processed through OPM.

At the House of Representatives session Wednesday, Rep. Sheila J. Babauta (D-Saipan) said the Legislature funds OPM to carry out desk audits and that it would be a great idea for it to come in and present
the results.

Babauta said she has spoken to the OPM director and it is something that they are interested in doing because they are excited about their findings.

“We funded a project, they completed it and now it’s like turning in your homework to the teacher,” she said.

The OPM’s Citizen-Centric Report disclosed the completion this past year of two major desk audits—for the Department of Corrections and for the Department of Public Safety.

OPM said the desk audits provided OPM with a greater understanding of the needs of the departments.

OPM said work now begins on how to improve, based upon the findings of each audit.

Babauta said OPM staff are ready to present their findings and await an invitation from House Speaker Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan).

“I think this is going to be a really great example and a model to show how a Legislature funds, like we have the discussion, we move funding, we fund something. And then an agency carries out the responsibility and gathers findings and now we have this data that’s going to be provided to the people who funded it.”

Babauta said they can use this data to make better decisions and that she is hoping to schedule OPM’s presentation this month.

Babauta suggested inviting the representatives-elect to OPM’s presentation as the audit findings will be helpful to them.

Rep. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan) echoed her support for scheduling a meeting with OPM to present the desk audits for DOC and DPS.

Sablan suggested inviting members of governor-elect Arnold I. Palacios’ transition committee who will also be reviewing DOC and DPS.

“I think that would be very helpful to them as well,” she said.

OPM’s report also disclosed, among other things, that for fiscal year 2021 they conducted 14 trainings with 215 participants, and for FY 2022 they held 25 trainings with 338 participants.

One of the biggest expenses that OPM incurred in the past year was for office equipment and capital items in the amount of $19,761. All computers and scanners were upgraded.

After all expenses, OPM said they will realize a carryover amount of approximately $124,858 in ARPA funds in personnel in FY 2023.

OPM said this is in anticipation of fund reimbursement from 401A and health insurance expenses in the amount of $22,568.

This carryover amount, OPM said, will be extremely necessary for them due to the zero fund allotment in the FY 2023 budget.

The OPM report also disclosed that substance abuse continues to be a challenge within the government workforce.

OPM said they maintain strict adherence to the regulations and continues to administer drug testing throughout the government, specifically with safety-sensitive positions.

OPM said drug testing remains a vital component of their function.

OPM said there was one demotion, 13 suspensions, and 12 terminations, for a total of 26 adverse actions in FY 2022.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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