Concepcion-Teregeyo no longer DPL secretary as she heads new office
A new office that will be headed by Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo has been created to streamline the close to $1 billion worth of recovery and infrastructure projects in the CNMI.
Called the Infrastructure and Recovery Program, it will be a new program under the Governor’s Office and will handle nearly a billion dollars’ worth of projects that will all be completed in the next several years.
Speaking at a radio news briefing, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres announced that that day, Friday, was Concepcion-Teregeyo’s last day as Department of Public Lands secretary because starting today, Monday, she will be the coordinator of the Infrastructure and Recovery Program. He said he will be appointing a new DPL secretary in the next couple of weeks.
At the same news briefing, Concepcion-Teregeyo said she is sad to leave “a great bunch of hardworking, highly motivated employees on the Tinian, Rota, Saipan office.” She said she will use her background and experience in her new position to help move all of the infrastructure funds that are coming in.
“So it’s just a wonderful opportunity to help in a new capacity. I’m really, really appreciative and humbled for the opportunity,” she said.
Torres said the IRP will have three directors—one for procurement, one for permitting, and one for construction management/engineering. Engineering will have several civil, mechanical, structural, and electrical engineers. Permitting will have biologists, an environmental planner, a master planner, and an archeologist. Procurement is going to have a couple of attorneys who will be focusing on the procurement process, making sure the contracts are done right to expedite these contracts.
The governor said the IRP will assist the Disaster Relief-Public Assistance and hazard mitigation projects and will move forward projects such as with the Northern Marias College, the Public School System, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp., Commonwealth Utilities Corp., and road projects such as Route 36 and 35.
Torres added that they also have hundreds of millions of dollars in American Recovery Plan Act funds that need to be spent in the next couple of years.
“We’re really excited. This will be giving an opportunity for our folks on Rota, Tinian, Saipan, and the Northern Islands,” the governor said.
Torres said the IRP also falls under the Governor’s Economic Advisors Council that he formed in May last year.
The governor said the current workforce in all the departments are already stretched thin by the federal funding under the current federal programs, hence the need to create the new office.
With $444 million under Disaster Relief, plus the hazard mitigation and public assistance programs of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and then the additional $500 million that the CNMI will be getting from ARPA, the local capacity would not be able to sustain and meet the requirements, he said. “This is the reason why we created this new office…to assist the departments streamline,” Torres said.
He said they will also work with the Marianas Visitors Authority to look at the tourism sites because they want the CNMI to have world-class tourism. “We need a full transformation,” Torres said.
The governor said he is confident that the IRP is the right office to streamline the process, the procurement, and then eventually the construction management.
“I’m very excited with the construction management part because we…will be having a full office. Engineers will be going out with enforcement agencies to go with this construction and make sure that the contract that they signed is done appropriately in a timely manner,” he said. “We want to make sure that we hire the right people for these projects. I want to make sure that we have our projects moving forward in a timely manner.”
Torres said Concepcion-Teregeyo, as DPL secretary, has done a phenomenal job in moving forward on many land compensations. He said there’s still a lot of issues at DPL that needs to be addressed, but Concepcion-Teregeyo has done a “phenomenal job” on the homestead program, the real estate program, land claims program, and other programs at the department.
Torres believes Concepcion-Teregeyo will be able to help the CNMI tremendously in her new role, since she has also been at the Department of Lands and Natural Resources and is familiar with the permitting process. With her position at DPL, Concepcion-Teregeyo is also familiar with the procurement process, he added.
“I am sad to see her leave [DPL]…but she’ll be part of the part of the administration in a very different, but fruitful program,” Torres said.