Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Fiscal board denies fault in Forensic Sciences crisis

By on January 30, 2019

SAN JUAN – The executive director of Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board, Natalie Jaresko, blamed Public Safety Commissioner Héctor Pesquera for the fiscal crisis at the island’s morgue, which has caused delays in the processing of bodies.

Jaresko wrote a letter to Pesquera on Wednesday to reject his remarks that budget reductions required by the board were the cause of the crisis.

In developing the government’s fiscal plan, the board said it worked with the government to ensure the funding of services. Among the work collaborated on, the board and the government developed a “right-sizing model for agencies that would be consolidated into the umbrella of the Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) based on attaining a certain level of consolidation efficiencies,” the Jaresko said in her letter. “The measures to reduce costs include back-office, front-line, non-personnel operations, and utilities spend reduction,” she added.

“The savings, which should be the product of efficiencies and shared services, require deep commitment and a sense of urgency to implement all measures,” Jaresko went on, pointing out that the DPS has not submitted the “required implementation plan” for the Forensic Sciences Institute. “In fact, DPS has only provided an implementation plan for the Police Bureau and no others,” Jaresko stressed.

She noted that implementation plans and progress reports are key to understanding DPS’s progress in achieving consolidation measures and efficiencies, and even more important to successful completion of the measures and achieving the targets set by the Government and Oversight Board together.

It is important to note that the only reapportionment request received during fiscal year 2019 for the Institute is a payroll transfer of $78,000, for which we requested additional information back in December 2018. To date we have received nothing from you. Until such information is provided, the Oversight Board cannot move forward in its review of the request,” she said.

During fiscal 2018, the two reapportionment requests for the institute were approved, one for a budget increase, by $3.34 million “for the purchase of equipment, and another which reallocated $310,000 within the non-personnel concept of spend,” she said.

Jaresko asked Pesquera to provide a status update on the delivery of an implementation plan during a meeting scheduled for Feb. 5, and that the DPS submit certain information by Feb. 15.

The board requested the following information:

a) Personnel and non-personnel actuals per month, by agency and by concept of spend (“objeto de gasto”) from July 1st 2018 to December 31st 2018;

b) Personnel and non-personnel expenditure projections for FY19 by agency and by concept of spend (“objeto de gasto”);

c) Amount and classification of open positions by agency required at each to backfill;

d) Certification of the use of previous fiscal year $3,340,000 budget increase for the purchase of equipment at the Institute;

e) List of all professional services contracts, purpose and values by agency;

f) An implementation plan for the Institute and remaining DPS agencies; and

g) Any additional information that can assist the Oversight Board in understanding budgetary needs at the Institute.

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