The 2016 Festival of Pacific Arts may be steering into some trouble with just 68 days until opening day. During an organizing committee meeting yesterday at the Governor’s Complex at Adelup, Nate Denight, general manager of the Guam Visitors Bureau and chairman of the FestPac committee, said funding for the event is only at about $5 million. With total spending estimated at about $7 million, the festival is nearly $2 million short of reaching its goal.
According to Denight, the donations and sponsorships portion of funding resources contributed to the shortfall. Only about $300,000 has been committed to the event by various private partners. Of that amount, he believed about half still needs to be collected, but should arrive shortly.
Denight said that prior to becoming chairman, the FestPac committee in 2013 estimated the budget for the event to be about $13 million. Of that amount, about $5 million in cash would come from the government. Another $2 million in cash would come from donations, fundraisings and sponsorships. The final $6 million would come from in-kind services.
Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes is the chairwoman of the FestPac finance committee which is responsible for soliciting sponsorships and other partnerships. She said that before the shortfall is acknowledged, the budgets put forth by different teams should undergo a reconciliation to determine what is necessary and what needs to be “scrubbed out.”
This scrubbing process, according to Muña-Barnes, is when duplicate costs are identified and removed from an original budget request.
During yesterday’s meeting, an additional budget of more than $90,000 was introduced for the programming portion of FestPac. Muña-Barnes said some costs include logistics that should not be included because a separate committee is already handling the logistics of the event.
“What we need to do is look at the breakdown for all the budgets that came in, scrub it, and make sure that we’re not duplicating the efforts for the resources,” Muña-Barnes said.
She added that reconciliation may reveal the actual budgets to be smaller overall and lead to a reduction in the shortfall.
“It may be much lower than ($2 million) because there were talks of duplication of logistical support,” Muña-Barnes added.
About 49 solicitation packages were sent out late last year. Barnes said she believes the committee needed to continue seeking private partnerships to provide additional support for FestPac.
While concerns were aired about the shortfall in funding, another senator questioned whether spending is being done in accordance with proper procurement procedures.
Public relations company Adztech has been contracted to serve as the event manager. But, according to Respicio, the company is procuring services and products with government money and may need to follow Guam law with regard to procurement.
“I’m thinking that although you have an event specialist to procure these items, those items are still subject to the procurement process,” Respicio said.
Denight said this aspect was covered in the request for proposal for the event manager and the attorney general had signed off on the contract. In addition, moving through normal procurement without an events manager could have led to delays because of protests and other issues.
But Respicio contended that the contract covered management services and did not necessarily extend to procurement on behalf of FestPac. About $800,000 has been spent on management services so far. It was stated yesterday that about $4.2 million would eventually be spent through Adztech.
“At the end of the day, you’re still dealing with government funds that have to be still subject to the procurement (law),” Respicio said. “Unless you have a ruling from the (attorney general) or public auditor, otherwise we’re going to have to cross that bridge when we get there.”
Public Auditor Doris Brooks announced that her office will conduct a pre- and post-event audit of FestPac. One aspect of the audit is to determine if proper procurement procedures were followed.
Respicio said he is fully aware of the impending audit at the meeting and expressed concern with the possible ramifications that would result from it if issues, like procurement, were not addressed beforehand.
Denight agreed to have the matter reviewed by legal counsel.