Interior Provides Nearly $ 1 Million in FY 2017 Grant Funding to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

To Explore Fresh Groundwater Availability; Support Hospital Billing and Collections; Improve Water Distribution for Agriculture; Improve Waste Disposal and Explore Recycling Alternatives;
Strengthen Efforts in Prosecuting Sexual Assault Cases

Last edited 11/30/2020
Contact Information

Tanya Harris Joshua 202-208-6008,

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 6, 2017) – This week Interior Acting Assistant Secretary Nikolao Pula has made available $994,711 to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to improve water distribution, waste management, and hospital billing services. One grant was provided for a joint government/non-profit partnership to improve efforts in addressing and prosecuting sexual violence cases.

“Requests submitted to the Office of Insular Affairs for grant assistance always outweigh the available resources,” said Pula. “We are pleased that we can support some of the worthy projects prioritized by Governor Ralph Torres as they will have a direct impact towards improving lives for our fellow Americans living in the CNMI.”

The projects approved for 2017 are as follow:

  • Explore Potential Sources of Fresh Groundwater - $300,000 for the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC) Division of Water to fund a study of potential sources of fresh water for the people of Saipan. The CUC is collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct a two-year study to update the understanding of fresh groundwater availability and provide information on the sustainable management of the island’s fragile groundwater resources. The island of Saipan has a population of nearly 50,000 which is more than 85% of the territory’s total population.
  • Improve Hospital Billing Services - $250,000 for the Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation to improve the Chargemaster/Fee schedule and ensure all services within the hospital and clinics across the territory are captured at a reasonable and sustainable rate. Funds will include training for improved coding and billing for Medicare and Medicaid services. This project responds to CNMI Public Law 16-51 which mandates that health centers in the territory improve the fee capture rates for services and financial autonomy.
  • Upgrade Water Distribution at the Kagman Farm Plots - $92,606 to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for procurement of water meters, pressure relief valves, water pumps, pressure regulators and other related equipment to increase water production, reduce waste, and provide reliable water distribution for local farmers and ranchers. The Kagman Farm Plots produce nearly 75% of all produce, meat and specialty crops for Saipan and lessen the need for imported foods.  The CNMI Farmer’s Market Association advocated for the necessity of this project, citing the advantages of providing fresh produce to the local populace and private businesses on the island.  This is funded under the OIA Maintenance Assistance Program.
  • Study Waste Disposal and Recycling Alternatives - $193,620 to the Department of Public Works to explore the possibilities of providing government-operated trash pick-up and recycling services for the island of Saipan with the goal of increasing recycling options for residents, cutting down on illegal trash burning, and eliminating related public health hazards.  From 2013 to 2015, the CNMI experienced a 12% rise in monthly waste tonnage from an average of 100 to 112 tons per month at its Lower Base Transfer Station. The feasibility study will also provide critical information needed for managing the island’s only landfill, the Marpi Landfill, which is projected, by CNMI officials, to reach maximum capacity 15 years earlier than expected.   
  • Refurbish Waste Incinerator for Ports - $111,900 to the Commonwealth Ports Authority to procure parts and equipment to refurbish the CNMI Ports Incinerator unit at the Francisco C. Ada Saipan International Airport and to fund a preventive maintenance program.  The incinerator system was installed more than a decade ago and is the only available incinerator for disposing of waste from aircraft and sea-going vessels that make port in Saipan. The USDA mandates that waste not accumulate beyond 3 days and air and sea vessels serving the island would be highly impacted if the incinerator were to experience down time exceeding that timeframe.  Saipan currently services 13 direct flights from Guam, China, South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong and anticipates 3 new airline routes to the island in the next year. This is funded under the OIA Maintenance Assistance Program.
  • Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence - $46,585 to strengthen CNMI’s capacity to address sexual assault in a joint government/non-profit collaboration with the Commonwealth Health Center by creating a comprehensive medical response for all three islands of the CNMI:  Saipan, Tinian and Rota.  This response, the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners Program, will include recruitment, training, and retention of examiners and nurses to attend to the needs of victims of sexual assault, collect evidence that may be used in prosecution, and testify in court when necessary.

Maintenance Assistance Program (MAP) grants through the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) are used to promote and develop institutions and capabilities that improve the operation and maintenance of island infrastructure.  Technical Assistance Program (TAP) grants are intended for short-term, non-capital projects and are not meant to supplant local funding of routine operating expenses of an island government. TAP priorities include projects that foster development of the insular areas in the following areas: accountability, financial management, economic development, education, energy, management control initiatives, disaster assistance, natural and cultural resources, capacity building, public safety/emergencies, health, and invasive species management.  All funding for 2017 for the CNMI was provided through the TAP program except for two which were funded under MAP, as indicated above.

Funding for the MAP and TAP programs under CFDA# 15.875 at is available to any of the four U.S. territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as to the three freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Funding under both programs is appropriated annually by the U.S. Congress.

The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. On behalf of the Secretary, the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas executes these responsibilities through the Office of Insular Affairs whose mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.



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