AG Camacho: Raises to GHURA’s Executive Director and Deputy Director cannot be paid retroactively to date of hire

November 01, 2021- Tamuning, Guam- The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) issued an Opinion today on whether the pay raises given to Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority’s (GHURA) Executive Directors and Deputy Directors violated the prohibition against retroactive pay. The opinion was given in response to a request made by Public Auditor Benjamin J.F. Cruz after his office discovered that personnel action forms appeared to have effective dates retroactive to the date that salary adjustments were authorized.

In the Opinion, the OAG noted that no retroactive pay raises are allowed for unclassified employees or officers of the government of Guam unless specifically authorized by law. There is no law authorizing retroactive pay for GHURA’s executive and deputy directors. GHURA’s Personnel Rules and Regulations do authorize pay raises upon certification of a satisfactory performance evaluation. Pay raises authorized for GHURA’s directors from 2013 to 2018 were justified by performance evaluations as required by these rules. The raises would be in compliance with the law as long as the raises were paid out on or after their respective authorization dates. Additional pay raises were authorized on September 11, 2020, when the Board of Commissioners (BOC) certified satisfactory performance by the directors for the annual review period of January 2019 to January 2020. These pay raises would be in compliance with the law as long as they were paid out on or after September 11, 2020.

On July 8, 2019, the BOC also authorized a new pay schedule granting an across-the-board, one-step pay increase to all GHURA employees. At the time of the authorization, a salary freeze was in effect under Public Law 34-111; the freeze was lifted on September 30, 2019. The pay increases would be in compliance with the law as long the pay raises were paid out on or after October 1, 2019.

The OAG requested written confirmation from the GHURA BOC that any payments made were, or will be, made in compliance with Guam law.

In November 2019, the OAG and the Office of Public Accountability (OPA) announced they were teaming up to tackle the misuse of public funds and work to increase transparency. Since then, the OAG discovered that the Consolidated Commission Utilities (CCU) held closed-door discussions on pay raises and bonuses for certain employees in violation of the Open Government Law, and the OPA has completed several audits of raises given to directors, including its audit of GHURA’s salary adjustments.

When receiving requests to review misuse of government funds, the OAG analyzes each case and is guided by the law and the evidence provided. Opinions of other government officials as to illegal actions of another government entity or official are considered but are not determinative. If agencies or government officials are found to be violating the Open Government Law or any other law, the OAG will decide, on a case-by-case basis, on the most appropriate remedy, which may include civil, criminal, or administrative action.