‘Some 200 employees will be let go’
Out of about 500 American Rescue Plan Act-funded and excepted service government hires, around 200 workers combined from both ARPA-funded and limited-term hires will be receiving their 60-day termination notices as early as this Thursday, leaving a combined remainder of about 300 employees.
This was learned yesterday at the presentation of Joseph Pangelinan, who is the chief of Employee Development and Staffing at the Office of Personal Management, at the Rotary Club of Saipan meeting at the Hyatt Regency Saipan.
During the latter part of his presentation on OPM’s functions and services, he was asked if government employees are expected to experience furloughs or cuts in their hours in the months ahead. His reply: “What I’m hearing is that the government has been operating at this level and they need to bring it down…and it may prompt a reduction in work hours, terminations for excepted services. I believe before Jan. 27 memos are going out now to employees that are on ARPA limited-term [contracts and] ARPA excepted service employees, so they’re going to be receiving a 60-day notice for them to vacate the position. …We are in a very sad state now in terms of employment in the government. Eventually those employees will be laid off.”
When asked for an estimate on how many government workers are expected to be given termination notices by Jan. 27, 2022, he replied, “[The] exact number I don’t know, because I just received this information this morning. We had a meeting with the director. The letters are starting to go out, I think it’s already out. And what I’ve learned from the past is that these letters are for the excepted-service ARPA employees…because we do have…limited-term ARPA employees and we also have excepted service ARPA employees. And [for] the excepted service, the 60-day notice has already been sent out by the director, and [for] the limited term, the director is putting together the memo, or the letter, to make sure that the language is in line with the attorney general’s recommendation.”
When asked if the letter for ARPA and LTA employees is a termination letter, Pangelinan responded “Yeah, but the language is a little bit different, and maybe the time frame is also a little bit different. They may be looking at resorting to the reduction-in-force because they are in a department.”
As for excepted service employees, Pangelinan believes that these individuals may have already received their 60-day notices.
When asked for an estimated number of individuals—both ARPA and excepted-service employees—who may be retained, Pangelinan stated, the remaining ARPA-funded employees will number about 300 (“I want to be conservative.”) He said there were about 500 of these employees at the start, “so the remaining is maybe like 300. But that 300 is divided between the excepted service and the limited term.”
As to whether any other non-ARPA excepted government employees will be terminated, he said the CNMI government is are looking into that. “If there’s a need for further cuts, it may go with…reduction in work hours, and then the next step is furlough, and then if there’s still need for cuts, it may go into reduction-in-force.”
He stated that excepted employees may have already received their notices by now, and indicated that OPM is looking into whether or not the situation will lead to a reduction in hours, furloughs, or a reduction-in-force among civil service employees.
In his presentation, Pangelinan also showed the chart growth of government services, with government departments growing from eight to 10 in total and offices under the Office of the Governor growing from 16 to 27. He also implied that the government may have “ghost” employees as some individuals who should have been terminated a while ago are still collecting AWOLs.
“There are probably ghost employees in the government. Yeah, we do have employees also that are accumulating AWOLs, no? AWOLs that they should have been terminated years ago, but they are still accumulating AWOLs. That’s why we always emphasize training so that the supervisors will do their job and make sure that if some employees are exceeding the required number of AWOLs, they have to be terminated.”
When speaking of the current CNMI government’s employment status, he said “It’s a sad news to share that with the employees but that’s the reality.”