Several construction companies operating without meeting licensing requirements

Benjamin J. Cruz

An Office of Public Accountability review of how licenses for contractors have been issued has revealed 20 construction contractors, or 13 percent of the 158 contractors on Guam, were non compliant with Guam Contractors Licensing Board requirements. 

“[T]he presence of non-compliant applications highlights significant procedural deficiencies in the first line of defense to ensure construction is carried out in a safe, competent, and professional manner,” an OPA report by Public Auditor Benjamin Cruz, published today, states.

Of those 158 companies, 14 of them were provided new licenses. Of those 14, 11 were missing necessary documents, “yet were approved.”

The OPA report has found several significant findings related to CLB’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) in licensing and investigation.

Among these are CLB’s failure to update its license exams for contractors to match not only the building code Guam operates under, but the four editions of that building code that have been improved since Guam’s switch to the International Building Code (IBC).

“Part I of the two-part exam, covering law and related subjects, has not been updated since 2009, lagging behind Guam’s transition to the International Building Code (IBC) in 2000, and as of now, it adheres to the 2009 edition of the IBC, which is four editions behind the latest version published in 2021,” Mr. Cruz wrote. “Part II, assessing specific knowledge in the desired license area, faces even more significant issues, with at least 21 out of 68 sections requiring updates, and all 18 written exams (except the Master Electrician exam) remaining unchanged since the IBC adoption in 2000.”

The CLB also has issued specialty licenses to 233 current contractors despite having the authority to do so, according to the report. 

“A CLB board meeting was held in March 2022, highlighting the lack of adjudication for the 2009 Rules and Regulations governing the C-68 classification,” the report states. “This meeting raised concerns about the status of contractors already holding a C-68 classification, as the CLB’s legal counsel stated that without duly enacted regulations, the CLB lacks the authority to issue any licenses.”

Investigations processes adhered to, though weaknesses discovered

The report states the CLB has adhered to SOPs for its handling of investigations, “but our examination revealed areas of weakness.” Most of these weaknesses included inadequate documentation, and minor administrative matters.

Mr. Cruz made seven recommendations to the CLB for corrective action:

  1. Ensure that the C-68 Classification and the updated Rules and Regulations undergo a thorough review and approval process through the Administrative Adjudication Act.
  2. Conduct a comprehensive review and update of examinations to align with Guam’s adopted 2009 edition of the International Building Code (IBC) and/or current industry practices and regulations.
  3. Update and align Standard Operating Procedures and application packets to ensure uniform procedures and eliminate disparities between documents;
  4. CLB management ensures appropriate procedures to maintain documents used to support the issuance of contractor’s licenses to new applicants in line with statutes. This includes updating the CLB checklists attached to folders, as well as keeping applications collectively together;
  5. Creating literature that clearly states the duties and authority the Executive Director should have over licensing and investigation procedures and have such literature approved by the Board;
  6. Updating the CLB’s Standard Operating Procedures for consumer and CLB complaints; and

7. Create a systematic recordkeeping process similar to procurement files, including documenting all steps and using checklists for consistency to improve organization and tracking of case status during investigations. 

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