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ASG still “high risk” as far as USDOE is concerned

fili@samoanews.com

Effective last month, the American Samoa Government remains on “high risk” status for all U.S. Department of Education funds due to ASG’s failure to successfully address problems in fiscal accountability, however the local Department of Education (ASDOE) is doing its part to successfully address any federal concerns pertaining to grants awarded to ASDOE.

Samoa News learned of the designation through a June 27 letter from USDOE’s Melody Musgrove, the director for Office of Special Education Programs, to acting ASDOE director Lt. Gov. Faoa A. Sunia pertaining to Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) grant, which is funded by USDOE.

In the letter, Musgrove said, USDOE “has designated American Samoa a high-risk grantee and imposed Department-wide special conditions on June 21, 2012 due to American Samoa’s continuing failure to successfully address significant problems in fiscal accountability for Department grant funds.”

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, ASDOE deputy director of finance, Russell Aab pointed out that there is a general misunderstanding regarding the USDOE High Risk Status.

“The high risk status is with ASG not just ASDOE,” he said yesterday. “What it really means is that any ASG agency that receives USDOE funds is on High Risk status until all agencies come into compliance.”

He explained that ASDOE had three outstanding compliance issues:

1.         Personnel Accountability PCAP (Hours vs Wages)

2.         Implementation of an LDS system (Longitudinal Data System)

3.         Expansion of IFAS to school sites (IFAS is the ASG financial computer system)

“We have successfully closed number 1 and are currently implementing 2 and 3 through contracts with off-island vendors. We expect to be in full compliance within the next several months,” he said. “We actually expect to be done by October 1, 2012 but it will probably take until December to verify with USDOE.”

“This will not mean that we will be off of High Risk. Several other departments must complete their compliance issues before ASG is taken off of High Risk,” he said. “For example, the financial issues are not ours but Treasury Department. Much of it has to do with audit findings. Several ASG agencies still have remaining issues that need to be addressed.”

“Thus while ASDOE will shortly have fulfilled its requirements we cannot answer for the other departments,” he said.

Another ASG department that receives USDOE grants is the Department of Health.



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