WASHINGTON, D.C.—The White House convened last Feb. 11 the 2020 Interagency Group on Insular Areas in a senior plenary session that was attended by territorial governors, lieutenant governors, and members of Congress.
The session was co-chaired by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Douglas Hoelscher, White House deputy assistant to the President & director, White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, during which Bernhardt also presented a total of $29,480,076 in Capital Improvement Project and Technical Assistant Program grant funding for the territories.
“We discussed the constant and urgent pursuit of economic development in our insular areas,” said Bernhardt. “This meeting ensures that insular voices and concerns are heard in the Federal government.”
At the IGIA this year, the group focused on economic development and insular resilience issues that continue to challenge the governors in each of the territories. “The IGIA allows the governors to communicate what they see as solutions directly to the White House and other federal agencies,” said Assistant Interior Secretary Douglas Domenech. continued Domenech.
Bernhardt presented CNMI Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios with $9.9 million in CIP and TAP grants as follows:
• $2.9 million for Saipan FEMA projects under the Public Assistance and Hazard Mitigation grant programs related to Super Typhoon Yutu;
• $1.2 million for the Public School System-specific FEMA projects;
• $1 million for the construction of the fire alarm/protection and sprinkler systems at the Department of Corrections;
• $1 million for the construction of the West San Jose waterline on Tinian;
• $1 million towards the Rota landfill;
• $949,450 for building renovations for the Commonwealth Disability Center;
• $649,150 for the continuation of the CIP Program Administration to implement projects from inception to completion;
• $415,000 for the maintenance of infrastructure projects in the Commonwealth; and
• $846,476 in TAP grants to review impacts of multiple military programmatic agreements, replaced damaged emergency responder radio repeater system in Rota, and support detection, eradication and preventive measures to counter the coconut rhinoceros beetle.
Bernhardt presented Guam Gov. Lourdes “Lou” Leon Guerrero with $6.5 million in CIP grants as follows:
• $3.5 million for engineering and construction to replace the entire HVAC system at Guam Memorial Hospital;
• $1.2 million to continue the Insular ABCs Initiative to address deferred maintenance in public schools;
• $1.1 million towards the architecture & engineering for the construction of Simon Sanchez High School; and
• $720,000 for facility upgrades at the Department of Youth Affairs Youth Correctional Facility and resource centers.
Bernhardt presented American Samoa Lt. Gov. Lemanu Mauga with $9.7 million in CIP grants as follows:
• $4 million for construction of elementary school buildings and gymnasiums across the islands of Tutuila and Manua;
• $1.3 to American Samoa Telecommunications Authority for maintenance and renovations;
• $1.3 to American Samoa Shipyard Services Authority for the continuation of the slipway replacement project;
• $1.3 million to Department of Port Authority for the extension of the Malaloa dock;
• $1 million to the American Samoa Power Authority for heavy equipment; and
• $800,000 for the completion of the Tafuna Youth Center.
Bernhardt presented U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., with $3.3 million in CIP grants as follows:
• $2.2 million for new security cameras and for park renovations across the islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John;
• $1.1 million in redirected CIP grant funds was awarded to support the follow entities:
• St. Thomas East End Medical Clinic for architectural and engineering services;
• Schneider Regional Medical Center for purchase of generators; and
• Humbug I and Cancryn Pump Station for rehabilitation.
Federal presenters at the 2020 IGIA included the following officials:
• Dr. John Fleming, assistant secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, who led a discussion on the Department of Commerce’s role in supporting economic development in the U.S. territories;
• Carlos Castillo, associate administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of Resilience who presented on Disaster Recovery and Resilience in the U.S. territories;
• Brian Cavanaugh, senior director for Resilience Policy, National Security Council; and
• Tina Wei Smith, executive director, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who presented on The President’s initiative to produce an analysis of economic conditions of the U.S. territories to help develop strategies for diversification.
The IGIA helps to ensure coordination and collaboration among federal agencies in addressing issues of concern to the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the CNMI. Established by Executive Order 13537, the group is co-chaired by the Interior secretary and the White House deputy assistant to the President & director of Intergovernmental Affairs.
For more information about the work of the Office of Insular Affairs, visit www.doi.gov/oia or follow @ASIIADomenech on Twitter. (PR)