March 30, 2004 – When her bill calling for the creation of a chief financial officer for the territory is taken up by Congress, Delegate Donna M. Christensen plans to introduce an amendment laying out the CFO's duties, she said in a release issued on Tuesday.
The amendment will provide clarification, since the proposed official's duties are not spelled out in the bill, she said.
According to Christensen, the CFO for a period of five years would:
– Assume the functions and authority of the Office of Management and Budget.
– Report on the financial status of the government six months after appointment and submit such reports quarterly thereafter.
– Certify the spending limits of the annual budget and whether it is balanced.
– Monitor budget operations for compliance with spending limits, appropriations, laws and direct adjustments.
– Develop standards for financial management including inventorying and contracting.
– Oversee the implementation of a comprehensive financial management system.
– Provide technical staff to the governor and Legislature for development of a deficit reduction and financial recovery plan.
Another change, Christensen said, is that the CFO will not have to be a certified public accountant. But the individual must have demonstrated ability in general management; have knowledge of and extensive practical experience working with governmental or business entities; and have experience in the development, implementation and operation of financial management systems.
Christensen said the revisions are based on suggestions put forth at public hearings she hosted in the territory and on comments submitted to her office.
Congress is expected to take up the bill in May, the delegate said. Before then, she said, more hearings and further revisions are planned.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull and the Senate majority have strongly attacked Christensen for introducing the bill and have pledged to speak against it if invited to comment by Congress. The territorial Democratic Party voted earlier this month to have its delegates to the party's national convention in July carry a resolution opposing the bill to the floor of the gathering in Boston.
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