Even with billions committed by the U.S. military to Guam infrastructure upgrades to support proposed troop redeployment there, the U.S. Government Accountability Office says the tiny island needs more U.S. government help to cover its required share of costs to expand ports and roads, the power grid and water-wastewater facilities needed to accommodate a projected 15% population increase.
GAO says that the U.S. Defense Dept. is funding infrastructure costs on Guam “directly related” to the movement of 17,000 U.S. Marines and dependents from the island of Okinawa and from other locations, as well as providing “some funds toward civilian infrastructure.”
But the Guam government must fund “civilian requirements related to the buildup,” GAO says. Island officials already have told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that they would request at least $6.1 billion for fiscal 2010 to fund infrastructure work. According to GAO, Guam’s wastewater treatment plants are operating at near capacity and face a 25% demand increase, while its electric grid is “inadequate.”
GAO contends that while a federal governmentwide working group coordinates Guam funding needs, it does not have authority to direct agency budget allocations. GAO says only pressure from top DOD officials “can marshal the resources from member agencies” needed to meet Guam’s infrastructure needs.
GAO says construction on Guam could start in fiscal 2010 to meet the projected 2014 deadline for troop movements, but military and industry sources speculate that overall funding issues in the U.S. and in Japan, which is also set to fund redeployment, could push that date back. There also are delays in completing required environmental reviews.
DOD Deputy Undersecretary Wayne Army concurs with the report but says the time allowed for its review was “compressed.” According to Guam Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo, DOD’s concurrence with the GAO report’s conclusion is “significant.”