Permitting processes are the bane of businesses in many jurisdictions.

The Governor of Guam said in January that Guam’s permitting process will be moved on-line “by the end of the year.” 

We have yet to hear how any improvements will work in Guam, although we are already in Month 6 of 2021. But the delays with permitting continue.

The Governor of the Northern Mariana Islands is taking a different approach, according to his comments at his weekly press briefings.

The NMI also knows just how much of a problem the permitting process is.

In an editorial submitted to the Journal on June 3, Michael S. Sablan also addressed the issue. Sablan is not only the vice president of Triple J Enterprises Inc., but the chairperson in the NMI of the Domestic Policy and Recovery Committee of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors.

He wrote, “Under existing procurement and permitting procedures, it can take 28 months for a project to get approval to start construction, if there are no legal disputes raised along the way.”

If that doesn’t paint an unattractive picture, Sablan went further.

“Much of the delays over the past decades can be attributed to disjointed processes within and among the agencies and to conflicting and duplicative procedures.”

Of course, the same is true in Guam.

But the NMI has stood up an office to deal with that. What’s driving the NMI’s desire to impact the dreadful burden of permitting is the millions in construction and typhoon recovery funding it has to spend, while the clock is ticking.

Gov. Ralph DLG. Torres announced who will run the Infrastructure and Recovery Program Office, and that it will employ its own engineers and staff.

In his editorial, Sablan underscored that the coordinator “will be supported by three directors who will oversea procurement, permitting and construction management and engineering. A legal team will ensure that the IRP will expedite contracts …,” he wrote.

And of course, if outstanding procedures are set in place, it’s going to be impossible to go back to the old ways. mbj