Nepotism undermines public service mission in Puerto Rico government

Nepotism undermines public service mission

The recurrent hiring of family and close relatives of government officials deprives Puerto Rico of millions of dollars. This pattern based on the Legislature mocks the people and shows contempt for Puerto Rico.

Thursday, November 21, 2019 – 11:53 AM

The recurrent hiring of family and close relatives of government officials deprives Puerto Rico of millions of dollars. This pattern based on the Legislature mocks the people and shows contempt for Puerto Rico.

New contracts for millions of dollars granted to relatives of advisors in the Legislature and La Fortaleza, without justifying the amounts or services, were revealed this week.

Many of these contracts come from the Capitol Superintendence Office, whose director José Jerón Muñiz Lasalle has been linked to questionable contracts in the Puerto Rico Natural and Environmental Resources Department. These allegations arise from investigations that led to the resignation of the agency’s secretara Tania Vázquez. The official, however, has the trust and confidence of Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and House Speaker Carlos Méndez.

Granting contracts to party donors and elected leaders is a regular practice. That is the case of a nearly $1 million contract granted to a company owned by the husband of a senator’s donor, who in turn provides legislative advice to this senator for more than $ 100,000.

However, these contracts are not only frequently amended to higher amounts but also show recurring characteristics. Communication or advisory services top the list even though suppliers don’t necessarily have professional credentials or qualifications. These contracts seem to duplicate efforts since the central government, the Legislature and municipalities have offices and staff for similar purposes, who contrary to those contracts must comply with the regulations of sound administration.

In other cases, job descriptions and billing reports lack details to understand the need for and the results of those contracts. In most cases, the benefit of these businesses for Puerto Rico is questionable. It is evident, for example, that they have not translated into better relations with citizens, who are denied access to the floor and participation in the evaluation of crucial measures such as those that soul d significantly change the electoral, civil or territorial order.

On the contrary, in addition to doubling costs, the creation of these parallel structures deepens the demoralization of public servants, whose salaries are barely small parts of the contracts that the central government and the legislature distribute to their relatives.

And even worse, in recent months, Puerto Rico has seen agency heads, lawmakers, employees and contractors appearing in federal court on corruption charges. In these cases, according to the indictments, the contracts would have served as a subterfuge to obtain taxpayers’ money for the personal enrichment of the defendants and to favor political campaigns.

Meanwhile, those ruling the island seem not to listen to the strong claim that took the street last summer and they had done very little to stop this practice which deprives citizens of Resources and rights. With their inaction, the governing class justifies a practice that undermines opportunities for other equally or better-prepared professionals interested in serving the people.

The government has provisions to regulate the recruitment of public servants to whom it ultimatelyapplies rules and sanctions for not fulfilling their duties. Those who choose public service should follow the application proceses and prove competence and compliance with requirements, without personal or party interests interferring in that process.

Political interests and nepotism that lacerate public service and undermine the already damaged trust of citizens in their institutions must be eliminated. Puerto Rico needs proven and committed employees and the Legislature should set the example by strengthening the agencies in charge of overseeing the use of our Resources.

This entry was posted in analysis and opinion, corruption, Puerto Rico necessary improvements and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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