Blas reminds government certifying officers they can go to jail for illegally implementing pay raises

Sen. Frank Blas, Jr.

Sen. Frank Blas, Jr. penned a memo to the several certifying officers of the government of Guam effectively reminding them they can go to jail if they certify pay raises without complying with Guam law.

Mr. Blas, in his memo, specifically turns the certifying officers’s attention to the fact that Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has yet to provide the legislature with three sets of plans. These include her plans to pay outstanding merit bonuses, increments, and financial assistance she promised to small businesses in her last state of the islands address.

The legislature mandated that she submit these plans prior to her implementation of the recently-approved 22 percent across-the-board pay raises to GovGuam employees of the General Pay Plan.

“This Memorandum is being provided to advise/remind you of the compliance to the Enactment Clause (Section 10) in Public Law 37-3 that is necessary before the implementation of the 22% pay increase set forth in the Government Pay Plan,” Mr. Blas wrote to the certifying officers.

According to Guam law, no payment can be made anywhere to anyone for anything without the signature of the certifying officer from the agency where the obligation was made. That includes paychecks.

“The implementation of this Act shall only occur after I Maga’håga submits to I Liheslatura written plans to address the payments of (1) Merit Bonuses owed to employees from 2012 to present, (2) Annual Increments owed to employees, and (3) the financial assistance promised to Guam businesses in the 2023 State of the Island Address,” the enactment clause of Public Law 37-3, which authorized the pay raises contingent on the plans states.

“As of the writing of this memorandum, the Legislature has not received any of the required plans,” Mr. Blas informed the certifying officers.

Sen. Chris Barnett also reminds the governor against breaking the law, suggesting that until she complies with the enactment clause of Public Law 37-3, she use federal pandemic discretionary funds in its place:

“The Governor clearly does not have the authority to increase pay for certain employees using government of Guam money without legislative approval. The Governor and DOA Director Ed Birn are familiar with the Illegal Expenditures Act. Before the Governor picks and chooses what parts of law she wants to follow, she needs either concurrence from the Legislature or a court opinion. Senators have no authority over the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds sitting in the bank. The Governor could use federal monies to pay raises to whoever she wants to – that would be between the federal government and her. That’s a better option than using local funds to increase pay for certain employees and breaking the law.” – Sen. Chris Barnett

According to the Certifying Officer Law found at Chapter 14 of Title 4 of the Guam Code Annotated, a certifying officer is “a person who is responsible for determining and certifying legality of the disbursement of public funds.”

The law further states:

A certifying officer is responsible for the existence and correctness of the facts stated in the certificate or voucher or supporting papers, the legality of the proposed payment under the appropriation or fund involved, the correctness of the computations on the certified voucher, and making good to the government of Guam the amount of any illegal, improper or incorrect payment resulting from: (1) any false, inaccurate or misleading certification made by the officer; or (2) any payment prohibited by law or which did not represent a legal obligation under the appropriation or fund involved.
If a certifying officer is found guilty of certifying funds against the laws of Guam, the law states, “Upon conviction, the person is guilty of a misdemeanor and must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than three (3) years.”
It is unclear whether any of the government’s certifying officers have certified any paychecks to reflect the 22 percent pay raise.


  • Ricky severino

      04/12/2023 at 8:19 PM

    Finally! Thank you mr.blas for intervening with logical sense that with the economy slowing and a war brewing that the government of guam can not afford these unjustifiable pay raises. We should be concentrating on lowering the cost of living not increasing pay that just adds to inflation.

  • Alan San Nicolas

      04/13/2023 at 7:10 AM

    I hayi komontra I lai, KASTIGA !!! Yuti I kontrata aka plea agreement. U ma presu gi trubunat gi halom I kuanto lulok. Finoña si Tun Pepe, jail them ya en yuti I yabi. KASTIGA I MAN CHEKLE (sakke) !!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *