The Secretary of Finance has advised of a projected reduction in the estimated general fund resources for the current fiscal year ending September 30, 2020. In a communication to the Governor dated February 3, 2020 (SFL 2020-081), the Secretary of Finance reported a shortfall in revenue by 8% or $4,364,189 for the first quarter of FY2020. The Secretary further advised of the need to revise the annual revenue estimate for FY2020 by a reduction of 16.8% and budgetary resources by 25.3% for the remainder of the fiscal year. Subsequently, in a communication dated February 6, 2020 (SFL 2020-085), the Secretary of Finance informed the Governor that his department updated and revised the annual revenue estimates for FY2020 based on new data. The Secretary of Finance now reported the need to revise the annual revenue estimate for FY2020 by a reduction of 20.7% and budgetary resources by 28.3% for the remainder of the fiscal year.
The proposal to change revenue estimates is a result of lingering economic effects of Super Typhoon Yutu and the substantial adverse impact of the current Novel Coronavirus Outbreak in China. This outbreak has essentially brought our tourism industry to a standstill for an undetermined period, causing a severe disruption in revenue and affecting many of our local businesses and residents accordingly. As a government, we have to adapt and make adjustments for this unforeseen circumstance.
This Directive applies to the entire Executive Branch, including semi-autonomous agencies and entities. Other branches of government, and autonomous agencies and entities, including the Commonwealth Ports Authority and the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation, are encouraged to respond, likewise, to the present fiscal circumstance. Further, Directive 2019-003 is rescinded and superseded by this Directive.
A. Implementation of 64-hour work schedule Due to the change in economic and budgetary conditions facing the CNMI and the government, please be advised that the Executive Branch will be implementing a 64-hour work schedule beginning on March 15, 2020. Under the authority of this Directive, business hours for
departments and agencies under the Executive Branch will be closed during every Friday beginning March 20, 2020 until further notice.
This Directive shall be observed by all locally-funded and federally funded government employees, both civil service and excepted service, under the Executive Branch. While I recognize that certain offices and/or functions may be required to adopt a modified 64-hour work schedule to meet certain needs and requirements, written requests must be submitted to my office and must be approved before any modified 64-hour work schedule may be implemented.
In view of the aforementioned revised schedule of government operations, it is important that all affected departments and agencies ensure that all necessary actions are taken to ensure that your respective staff report for duty in accordance to this Directive.
I have directed the Office of Personnel Management to work with all departments and agencies under the Executive Branch to properly implement this Directive. Your cooperation is expected.
B. Cost–containment measures
I also direct all Executive Branch department and agencies to take the following cost-containment measures to non-federally funded programs and agencies until revenue collections meet targeted goals.
1. Personnel Actions. No personnel actions involving hiring, re-hiring, reclassification, reassignments, within-grade increases or any other change of status may be processed. This requirement applies to all requests for personnel actions, whether involving a monetary benefit or being purely administrative in nature. Lump-sum payments of unused annual leave and other employee benefits are also restricted.
2. Overtime. There will be absolutely no accrual and payment of overtime and compensatory time hours for all employees. Exception: Overtime-eligible employees directly involved in law enforcement, fire protection, emergency management or medical services may be authorized by the Appointing Authorities to receive overtime at levels sufficient to protect and maintain public safety and health. The Appointing Authority may only authorize up to ten (10) hours of overtime per pay period. Authorization of overtime must be in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Administrative personnel engaged in law enforcement, fire protection, emergency management or medical services will not be authorized to receive overtime. The Appointing Authorities will be responsible for accomplishing their department or activity mission within these constraints.
3. Travel. Travel outside of the CNMI is not allowed. This restriction applies to locally funded travel. For travel under federally funded programs, employees will receive travel advances upon receipt of federal drawdowns.
4. Contracts and Leases. No new or renewal of contracts and leases may be entered into or approved unless advanced approval is obtained from the Office of the Governor. Additionally, all vehicle leases must be terminated where possible.
5. Purchases/Purchase Orders. Purchases of capital items (e.g., computer equipment,
furniture, vehicles) or orders greater than $2,500 is not permitted. Open purchase orders (open PO’s) will be closed immediately upon the issuance of this Directive, with the exception of PO’s relating to fixed costs and essential supplies such as but not limited to telecommunications, medical supplies, and public safety equipment. The Secretary of Finance will be responsible for ensuring that purchases are in compliance with this Directive.
6. Utility conservation. Department and activity heads will take immediate steps to
reduce consumption of electricity, water, sewer, and telecommunications services. Simple steps, such as ensuring that lights are out at the end of the work day, leaks are fixed, and unused telephone lines disconnected, should be undertaken immediately.
7. Fuel conservation. Department and activity heads will take immediate actions to reduce the consumption of fuel. Vehicles must be used strictly for program purposes, and we encourage coordination within and between offices to reduce vehicular trips throughout the day.
Requests for authorizations or exceptions to the above listed cost-containment measures must be first submitted to the Office of the Governor. Requests for authorizations or exceptions will not be entertained absent compelling circumstances such as a need critical to the operation of government.
Please use government resources in your control conservatively. Look for ways to save. Consider fully whether any spending decisions you make or recommend are truly necessary.
The reduction of work hours was a very difficult decision for the Lt. Governor and I to make but it is necessary in order to avoid more drastic options that would have more severe impacts on government employees and their families. Financial recovery remains at the top of our efforts so that we can eventually revert back to a normal 80-hour work schedule
We also understand that the cost containment measures will have an impact on public operations and services, but we must remain proactive in our approach by realigning government spending with available resources. It is imperative that we work collaboratively to examine operations and activities and identify areas that can be reduced. Under the present economic and fiscal constraints, ensuring that the government is able to continue providing essential public services and avoid lay-offs will require all of us to be proactive and financially prudent. In the meantime, please use the government resources within your de conservatively. Encourage your employees to find ways to save money. Share your and your employees’ ideas on how to save money with other employees, departments, agencies and with me and Lt. Governor Palacios. Continue to find ways to save. Any saving helps all of us get out of austerity.
With your assistance and cooperation, I am confident in our collective ability to overcome this current fiscal challenge and ensure that the delivery of essential public services will continue to be met for every single person who calls these islands home.
RALPH DLG. TORRES