American Samoa Historic Preservation Office implements process improvements

The American Samoa Historic Preservation Office (ASHPO) is responsible for protecting historic and prehistoric sites among the territory’s seven islands. In April of 2012, the ASHPO began implementing strategic process improvements.

“Creating more efficiency to safeguard the heritage of American Samoa while providing solutions to accomplish new construction projects is our main focus,” stated Dr. Joel Klenck,  ASHPO’s new Territorial Archaeologist.

The first objective of the ASHPO is to increase the level of responsiveness to government agencies seeking to construct roads, docks and other building projects in American Samoa.

David Herdrich, the Director of the Historic Preservation Office, states, “Our office is required by law to respond to U.S. agencies within a thirty-day period. With the addition of Dr. Klenck, we now strive to respond within a week of our being notified of a construction project. Our recent data indicates a seventy-five percent improvement in the timeliness of our responses.”

ASHPO also plans to modify its current system of data analysis. Klenck stated, “The goal is to permanently improve the process by which we evaluate areas for potential construction with regard to the presence of archaeological artifacts and features. Currently, when contractors ask for an analysis of a particular area, we must look through many paper site forms to respond.”

With the help of an archaeology intern, Ms. Victoria Su’e, all archaeological site forms are being added to a computer database. This data will then be updated and processed through a new archaeology program called ARC GIS 10 that enables researchers to ascertain archaeological features and artifacts throughout the seven islands of American Samoa using satellite data from the Global Positioning System (GPS).

“In the future,” Klenck adds, “Contractors will be able to give us the location of a construction project and within minutes we will have a clear understanding of the historical features and artifactual assemblages that were discovered in the researched area.”

Herdrich added, “These measures will make it easier for researchers to formulate new studies of the past, preserve the heritage of American Samoa, and enhance the government’s efficiency in planning building projects.”


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