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New policy: All contracts with gov’t must be reviewed by AG

fili@samoanews.com

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has implemented a new policy which requires a legal review by the Attorney General’s Office of any and all contractual or legal agreements made with the American Samoa Government.

The new policy, implemented in a Jan.18 memo and effective that date, deals with agreements entered into on behalf of ASG by any director, officer or authorized representative.

According to the governor, “all agreements that create a contractual or legal obligation” for ASG must be reviewed and approved as to legal sufficiency by the Attorney General’s Office before such agreements are finalized.

“As may be necessary, the Attorney General may provide further clarification as to the nature and types of agreements for which legal sufficiency review is required,” said Lolo in the memo. “However, until any such clarification is provided all agreements… are subject to this policy.”

Responding to Samoa News questions as to the reason for this new policy, the governor’s executive assistant, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said this policy is “to reaffirm the fact that the Attorney General is responsible for all legal matters pertaining to the American Samoa Government in light of agencies having their own resident legal counsels.”

“Legal documents committing the American Samoa Government have not been routed to the Attorney General for his review prior to execution,” he said late Tuesday afternoon. “With the mounting legal liabilities which the government is forced to pay, caution is taken to ensure that replications of these incidents will be preempted. The Attorney General must review all legal documents for legal sufficiency.”

During his State of the Territory Address three weeks ago, Lolo said that ASG owes $10.33 million ib legal liabilities — such as court judgments — and this is only based on what his administration has been able to find so far.

More than a week ago, the governor’s office learned that the Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS) has since last year demanded from ASG payment of $36,323 along with interest, penalties and agency charges.

CNCS is the federal grantor for AmeriCorps, who provided funds to local organizations such as Read to Me Samoa and Jungle Busters. American Samoa Special Service Commission was the ASG entity charged with AmeriCorps in the territory.

The program was shutdown following an audit of ASSSC by the federal grantor two years ago and a probe by the federal government. The ASSSC executive director Mine Pase was charged in federal court in Washington D.C., where she later plead guilty under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. CNCS in 2011 terminated funding for ASSSC.

In past years, lawmakers have raised concerns over contracts by departments and agencies that are finalized without approval of the ASG Attorney General, who lawmakers believe has the final say on any and all government contracts.



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