OPA questions over $670K in GRTA spending

Guam Regional Transport Authority (PNC file photo)

Guam – The Guam Regional Transit Authority is under the spotlight for the alleged misuse of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

An audit by the Office of Public Accountability also revealed that there’s still no formal contract in place between the GRTA and their vendor Kloppenburg Enterprises.

In the audit, the Public Auditor indicates violation of law and regulations. One of the more stunning findings is in the alleged misuse of over $670,000. Of that, the OPA says $23,246 were from over billing of paratransit services; $350,000 were from unauthorized charges for equipment provided by the contractor; and nearly $300,000 were charges that exceeded authorized amounts in purchase orders.

The OPA says it sampled two invoices and found that GRTA was billed for more hours than the amount of service that was actually provided. For example, they found that on July 5 last year, GRTA was charged 8.5 hours of service, but the logs showed buses only ran for 6 hours and 44 minutes.

GRTA Executive Manager Enrique Agustin could not elaborate and respond to every detail, saying he would save that for next week’s oversight hearing, but he did react to the findings.

“Now if they have any issue with billing then my suggestion to the auditor is go through [Department of Administration] and look at the invoice and the substantiating document that we attached to the invoice so that the vendor will be paid. And in fact they were paid, so now they’re questioning why they were paid. So to me, over billing means you pay for something that was not delivered? But the vendor provided the buses so we paid them for service rendered,” explained Agustin.

Agustin points out that there have been many occasions in which their buses would break down. When that happens, Kloppenburg steps in and provides services using their equipment or buses to make up for that loss.

“Instead of not using the vendor on equipment and let the ridership suffer then we asked the vendor to provide their own equipment and then we paid them for it. At no time did they bill us for service not rendered,” argued Agustin.

Agustin also responded to the OPA’s contention that there is no formal contract in place between GRTA and Kloppenburg Enterprises. The audit notes that instead of a contract, GRTA relied on three purchase orders issued by the General Services Agency.

The executive manager acknowledges that they bypassed the multistep bid process and went with a sole source contract after years of using a month-to-month contract because they only had one bidder.

“If you look at the remarks made by the OPA that it was awarded under sole source– because it was a single bidder situation and the law allows that a bid be awarded should there be only a single bidder situation,” said Agustin.

The bottom line, he points out, is that GRTA always stayed within their budget.

“We had the need, we had the money, we had the contract and we stayed within budget. And so the contract was awarded properly,” he added.