Senate passes resolution establishing new SSIC
The Senate yesterday passed a resolution to establish a Senate Investigating Committee (SSIC), when all Senators attending yesterday’s morning’s session voted yes.
Their stated purpose for establishing the SSIC is to review and investigate the operations of the Government and the activities within all Departments, Offices, Agencies, Boards and Commissions, including the American Samoa Government Employees Retirement fund and Development Bank of American Samoa, for compliance with applicable constitutional, statutory and regulatory requirements and for effectiveness of management practices and procedures.
It was within the last two weeks that Senators voted to set up the SSIC, when senate president Gaoteote Palaie Tofau discussed the issue with them.
Gaoteote told senators during that discussion that it’s time to set up the SSIC so that senators will have a good understanding of how money has been spent. He touched upon such things as donations for the tsunami victims, the ASPA and the LBJ probes, and also the the $20 million loan.
According to the bill, “the lack of responsible and accountable fiscal management continues to be a major factor in hindering the ability of the American Samoa government to provide the proper level of services to the people of the territory.”
For example, as stated in the bill and as evidenced by overspending, “there is instability in the financial condition of the primary health care facility, escalating utility costs, a deteriorating infrastructure, exposure of ASG to significant liability and impairment of private sector economic development.”
It also says that “the failure to adopt and implement management practices, which ensure compliance with applicable laws andregulations and provide foroperations oversight further contributes to, allows and even encourages inefficient and wasteful conduct, often jeopardizing federal and local funding, and can contribute to illegal and corrupt activities.”
The resolution further states that in order “to identify the source or sources of imprudent, wasteful or legally noncompliant management practices and activities, the Senate intends to investigate government operations.”
It also states that for this reason, the senate wants “to investigate the government fiscal management practices and its compliance with the budget process, as well as adherence to budget and appropriation acts,” and the reason for all of this is “to improve the government’s financial condition and restore public confidence in the affairs of the government.”
The SSIC is to be composed of seven members appointed by the President of the Senate, with the Committee Chairman and Vice Chairman also designated by the President.
The committee will conduct hearings, issue subpoenas to witnesses and also subpoena government records, files and documents as needed during their hearings.