DCCA: ‘We were lucky’


The recent federal government shutdown made the specter of pulling the plug on various programs under the purview of the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs “a real possibility.”

This is because the department staff is a mixture of federally funded employees and locally funded employees, said DCCA Secretary Robert Hunter.

He spent most of Monday reaching out to grantor offices on what the federal government shutdown meant for the department. “A large part of [Monday] morning was trying to get some guidance but it was kind of hard to get guidance from our grantors.”
Hunter said that just anticipating the impact the shutdown would have on the department made him restless, but the situation was resolved soon after.

“I was expecting to come in and find, ‘Yeah, you need to shut down’ but when I came in, it was all good,” he added.

Hunter said most of DCCA’s grantor offices were supposed to go in for four hours yesterday just to close up shop and provide guidance for the states and territories.

“Luckily for us, nothing was affected. Most of the responses we got from our grantors were ‘we won’t be at work and our offices will be shut down but you’re going to continue with your operations because you’ve already gotten approved for all these grants,’” said Hunter. “We were lucky…we are okay,” he added.

According to Hunter, the Aging Center was one of the programs that was at risk of being affected if the shutdown had been prolonged.

“It was one of the things we tried to get guidance on because the Man’amko Center deals with so many people…I did tell Walter [Macaranas, Aging Center director] to give everybody a heads-up that there is a possibility [of a shutdown] but we were waiting on guidance,” he said.

As it is, DCCA will continue operations unimpeded but it will just need to make sure that the department didn’t have days of obligations that they couldn’t pay.

“If [the federal government shutdown] would have gone on into February, yes, we have programs that would have started running unfunded like the second week of February,” he said.

Hunter is happy that the shutdown was not prolonged or the department would have faced complications.

“If this was a prolonged, we would have definitely been affected but in the short term, no,” he said.

Kimberly Bautista Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Bautista Esmores has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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