Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed a bill to establish a CNMI Office of Grants Management under the governor akin to a “state clearinghouse” last week.
House Bill 19-90, authored by Rep. Blas Jonathan Attao (Ind-Saipan), is now Public Law 19-49, officially creates a CNMI Office of Grants Management under the governor’s office meant to “seize all federal grant funding opportunities” and “take advantage of all federal funds the CNMI is eligible for.”
The bill, however, had come under fire in formal correspondence to the Legislature and even during heated discussions during Cabinet meetings stemming from local agencies concerns about what this would mean to the grants they already manage and if this would set up more red tape or conflicting procedures that would threaten these grants.
The governor, though, downplayed such fears in an interview last week.
“…Our biggest part there is too make sure our federal grants are not jeopardized” and so “we are doing an amendment [a new piece of legislation] to make sure that it is not jeopardized.”
But other than that, Torres said the bill is to “make sure that we don’t fail on any grants that’s available to the departments.
Agencies like the local arts council has lost national funding for missteps in grant applications recently.
However, Torres said the bill “is not to penalize” anybody.
“Those departments that are doing well in getting their grants approved will continue getting their grants and moving forward with those grants,” he said.
As to the concerns that the several individuals in the grants office would have total say over grants that some local agencies have run to fund their programs for years, Torres said, “Those are all speculations.” The grants office, “have done an extraordinary job on making sure on [if we] do we meet deadlines. Not just deadlines but new grants that are available… There is going is checks and balances.”