Puerto Rico Statistics Institute nears consolidation
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rican Senate on Monday passed Reorganization Plan 7, which would place the Statistics Institute under the Economic Development and Commerce Department (DDEC by its Spanish initials) umbrella despite continued questioning of the move, including from the U.S. Congress.
According to the governor’s office, La Fortaleza, the consolidation of the institute and four other offices under the DDEC, as well as the “successive consolidation of the Trade & Export Co. [CCE by its Spanish initials] and the Tourism Company” would achieve $7.8 million in savings the first year and $96 million in the next five years.
In March, the Senate passed a resolution to express that “there is no agreement with the House” on the plan approved Monday, and extended for 15 additional days the measure’s original evaluation period.
In a statement Tuesday, the Statistics Institute said it agrees that “several divisions of statistics from different entities can be consolidated to achieve cost efficiencies, and the Institute is ready to assume these functions under the right circumstances. In fact, we are at the Governor and the Legislative Assembly’s service to develop a Reorganization Plan for the Statistics System that consolidates these functions in an independent institution.
“However, the aforementioned Reorganization Plan #7 also proposes to eliminate all the independent governance structures of the Institute and transfer them to the Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, and then outsource the statistical functions. This is not how the problems with the statistics of Puerto Rico can be solved.
“Thousands of people, 16 members of Congress, the Private Sector Coalition, the Transparency Network, the American Statistical Association and even the Fiscal Oversight Board have recommended that the Institute remains an autonomous entity of the Government of Puerto Rico and independent, free of political intervention.
“We urge the Legislative Assembly to carefully weigh the draft laws. We are once again at your disposal,” the institute added.
In addition, the Senate also passed Monday Reorganization Plan 10 to consolidate in the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) the functions of the Environmental Quality Board (EQB), the Solid Waste Authority and the National Parks Program of the Sports and Recreation Department.
“The savings and/or projected efficiencies with the implementation of this plan are estimated at over $6 million for the first year and approximately $56 million for the next five years,” the 10-page document submitted by La Fortaleza states.
The debate over both plans extended past 8 p.m. The reorganization of the DDEC now goes to the governor’s desk for enactment. It is up to the House to approve the DNER plan.