Supplements Efforts under Section 902 Consultations between
the United States and the CNMI
Tanya Harris Joshua (202) 208-6008
WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 1, 2016) – Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina today approved a $200,000 grant for the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to create a team of labor certification technicians and a statistician at the Department of Labor to help collect, compile, and analyze crucial data on the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker (CW) Program, which is set to expire on December 31, 2019.
The CNMI is in a transition and working to build a stronger local and U.S. workforce before the CW Program expires. Funding provided through the Office of Insular Affairs Technical Assistance Program will enable the territory to obtain information on job categories currently held by CW workers and monitor losses and gains in particular job fields. The funding also helps the CNMI to develop a strategic plan to provide real-time data on the most in-demand job fields and valuable information needed by decision-makers in allocating limited training and workforce development resources.
“This funding is direly needed to fill job data gaps, strengthen the capacity of the CNMI government to train the workers that are most needed, and assist the Governor and his team in navigating through this transition period,” said Assistant Secretary Kia’aina. “I am pleased to help address this long-standing issue and look forward to further meetings of the 902 Consultations process, which has provided our federal team, composed of officials from the Departments of the Interior, Defense and Homeland Security, a better appreciation of the importance of the CW program to the CNMI’s economy and its impact on people’s lives.”
“Through the coordination and efforts of the Obama Administration, the CNMI has been granted a tremendous opportunity to air and discuss the most critical issues facing our relationship with the federal government through the 902 Consultations process,” stated CNMI Governor Ralph DLG Torres. “This grant award provided by the Office of Insular Affairs is a product of these discussions and recognizes that we can work collaboratively to achieve our goals for the people and the economy of the CNMI. The funding provides the CNMI Department of Labor the resources to work toward the adequate and positive transition of our workforce and I thank Assistant Secretary Kia’aina for her recognition of our needs and her willingness to work together for the people of our islands."
Assistant Secretary Kia’aina was appointed as the U.S. Special Representative for Section 902 Consultations by President Obama on May 19, 2016, following a request by CNMI Governor Torres, the CNMI’s Special Representative, and the late Governor Eloy Inos to initiate the process. At the first meeting held in June 2016, at the White House, the U.S. and CNMI Special Representatives agreed to focus on: 1) the expiration of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program in 2019; and 2) proposed U.S. Department of Defense military activities in the CNMI. A second meeting was held in August.
The Special Representatives have agreed to hold the 3rd round of 902 Consultations in the Northern Mariana Islands on October 1, 2016.