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ASG moving forward with a ‘contact’ center project

A sole source training initiative
reporters@samoanews.com

The government is moving forward with a contact center training project that appears to be an expansion of the previous call center project. The Procurement Office approved last month the sole sourcing of a $4.7 million contract to the Hawai’i-based Native Hawaiian Holding Company (NHHC).

According to the governor’s office, the project, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Emergency Grant (NEG) and administered by the local Department of Human Resources, was stalled late last year after two off-island companies — American Pacific Resources Inc., and American Samoa Services Associates Corporation — pulled out of a joint-contract awarded for a call center due to matching fund requirements. The contract amount was $1.5 million.

Late Wednesday afternoon Gov. Togiola Tulafono announced that the final workforce development projects are underway for the NEG — and among the projects is the “contact center industry” (which is similar to a call center industry).

The anticipated launch of the “contact center industry training and employment program” was attained late February with the award of the service contract to NHHC, said Togiola in a statement from the governor’s office.

NHHC does not have a telephone listing in Hawai’i and an e-mail message sent through the company’s website seeking a contact phone number for comments went without a reply at press time. The company website says that it has an office in American Samoa, but it has no business phone listing either. NHHC was not one of the three companies that bid for the call center training facility.

However, Samoa News understands that NHHC is associated with Dearborne International, the company, American Pacific Resources (APR) indicated it was working with to place call center trainees. APR is one of the companies that won the call center training facility contract bid last year, but withdrew after matching fund issues surfaced. 

While APR is listed as a California-based company, it is owned by Michael McDonald, a native of Utulei and his wife Paula Stevenson, daughter of Sen. Alo Paul Stevenson of Pago Pago.

At this time it is unknown if APR will be running the NHHC ‘contact’ center training end or office in American Samoa.

The statement from the governor went on to say that Procurement Office approved a sole source request from the DHR-NEG management for the NHHC service contract. The request included the justification with a full analysis of the NHHC proposal to meet the intended scope of work and the evidence of the company’s ability to meet the grant’s match requirement.

Samoa News, however, does not have details of what the grant’s matching requirement might be.

According to the governor, the NHHC contract is to provide training and employment in the contact center industry for 900 NEG participants and is to operate job placement and supportive services in a One Stop Career and Training Center (OSCTC) setting that will serve as part of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Workforce System. 

(Human Resources Director Evelyn Vaitautolu Langfordtold Samoa News last week that this training center is slated to open next month.)

The OSCTC will be located at the former American Samoa Veterans Association club house in Tafuna and the governor says funds for the NHHC contract are being used solely for the participant training and support services, and not for capital improvements to the facility.

The OSCTC will include a newly instituted “Gold Star Veteran Services” which is a joint effort of the USDOL’s Employment and Training Administration and the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), direct job placements, job skills assessments through an existing partnership with the American Samoa Community College (ASCC), development of an Individual Service Plan, career guidance, training and job referrals, provision of educational, training and occupational information and standard case management services.

FIBER-OPTIC CABLE PROJECT

Togiola, in his press release, further notes thatwith the implementation of the remaining projects, the program outcomes are well within reach as the DHR NEG staff advances towards a swift ramp-up of the training and employment projects, includes the fiber-optic cable project.

According to the press release, the Fiber Optic and Copper Basics training and employment project for 20 NEG participants will be conducted through a partnership with the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority and the Hawai’i Community College through the Pacific Center for Advanced Technology Training (PCATT). The projected start date is in April and will run for 2 weeks. The PCATT instructors are certified Fiber Optic Association instructors, with the designation of CFOT (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and CFOS/I (Certified Fiber Optic Specialist/Instructor). 



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