Torres: The ultimate goal is to ‘maximize’ federal programs

Posted on Mar 13 2020

With austerity measures hitting the ground on March 15, federally funded employees remain in limbo as to whether they will be affected, especially come Friday next week.

In an interview, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said that the administration is currently getting all the numbers down, into the number of federal local employees in federal programs.

“We don’t have the exact number as we’re still getting more approval and update from the federal grantors, but every department has written letters to the grantors asking to transfer, if not 100% of the individuals, or a certain percent of how much work they put into, for the specific programs.”

The governor said that what they want is for all federally funded employees to be exempt from austerity, and that that is what they are trying to find a solution.

“The ultimate goal is to maximize federal program, even as much as salaries, and then working hundred percent. That’s the ultimate goal. So we have until next week to work that out,” he said.

Torres said the administration is working on fusing federally funded employees from departments and agencies into a 100% federally funded agency.

The governor cited, as examples, the Commonwealth Office of Transit Authority and the Department of Lands and Natural Resources.

“COTA is 100% federally funded. The office is rented by federal funds, the utilities paid by federal program, and all the staff. Now, we have for example, DLNR, there’s brown tree snakes, there’s only two or three staff, and the sea turtle program [under federal funding].”

According to Torres, the entire office does not have to be opened for just two or three individuals, but instead, they could clock in at a 100% federally funded offices.

“What we’re trying to do is how do we manage taking those individuals and go clock in and have a different workload, or same workload, but report differently, so that we can have that staff also report into a 100% federally funded program.”

In early February, the administration announced the implementation of temporary austerity measures, cutting employee work hours from the regular 80 hours to 64. This is due to the unanticipated severe impact to the CNMI economy of the travel suspensions and restrictions following the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Iva Maurin | Correspondent
Iva Maurin is a communications specialist with environment and community outreach experience in the Philippines and in California. She has a background in graphic arts and is the Saipan Tribune’s community and environment reporter. Contact her at
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