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ASG News Briefs

reporters@samoanews.com

OFFICE OF PLANNING AND BUDGET
 
In its first quarter performance report submitted to Gov. Lolo M. Moliga, the Office of Planning and Budget recorded an excess of $11,476 (savings) from its first quarter budget allocation of $185,750. “If this trend continues throughout the year, we should anticipate a budget excess of a little over $46,000 in total savings by the end of the fiscal year,” the report states. Overall, the office underspent their first quarter budget despite the slight overrun of $3,711 in personnel costs due to the outgoing director’s payout.
 
“This approved budget will support our current operation as well as the reinstatement of the preliminary budget process already in progress this fiscal year for FY2015,” the report states.
 
DOE’S LONGITUDINAL DATA SYSTEM
 
The implementation of the Longitudinal Data System (LDS) for the local Department of Education is now complete and includes the long awaited upgrade and overhaul of the Chancery (data) System. With the upgrades, numerous trainings have started for Chancery staff and administrators within the department. Reports have been generated by data of various fields relevant to students, teachers, and DOE. Some of the reports that were enhanced, created, and customized as a result include teacher attendance, course catalog, special education database, and the early childhood education database.
 
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE
 
Administrative Law Judge Toetagata Albert Mailo says that between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012, two new workmen’s compensation cases were transferred to his office from the Workmen’s Compensation Office but no funds were paid for either of the 2 cases and the 3 personnel cases that were previously filed.
 
“Money for these new cases were collected and deposited accordingly,” Toetagata wrote in his office’s FY2013 first quarter performance report, adding that there are 54 Workmen’s Compensation cases pending, and decisions were rendered accordingly for the 15 cases that he presided over during this quarter.
 
The Office of the Administrative Law Judge was created to decide administrative decisions of departments, offices, agencies, boards, or commissions of the American Samoa Government. The office is headed by the Administrative Law Judge who is appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. It operates under a local appropriation budget of $288,500 for FY 2013. No federal funds are available to this office.
 
PUBLIC DEFENDER’S OFFICE
 
Budgetary constraints continue to hamper the ability of the Office of the Public Defender to provide necessary client services. This is according to the PD’s first quarterly performance report for FY 2013 submitted by M. Douglas Fiaui who wrote, “As legal representatives of people who are indigent, often not employed, without family support and in many cases in prison, all expenses incurred while defending and litigating our clients’ criminal cases are paid by our office.”
 
Among other expenses, these include all costs related to the taking of depositions and transcripts, case and scene investigation, expert witness fees, and mental health evaluations. Fiaui says they are without funds to pay for necessary legal research tools and case management software to bolster the competency and increase the efficiency of their work.
 
“A shortage of attorneys in our office makes the increasing caseload in our office especially burdensome,” he wrote. “Coordination with other departments and agencies of the government for services to our clients is also a standing problem.”
 
As of January 31, 2013, the PD’s Office caseload included 394 criminal cases, 135 traffic cases, 159 juvenile cases, and 5 civil commitment cases. They employ four full time career service employees and one federal grant funded full time contract specialist.
 
E-RATE SERVICES
 
Smart boards and video teleconferencing equipment are still being installed in local schools. In addition, the installation of the new Eagle Eye Polycom Teleconferencing cameras with 50’HD monitors has begun. The local Department of Education says this will assist with direct communications with teachers and administrators in Manu’a and Aunu’u as well as other schools. "This communication is valuable most especially in emergency situations.”
 
Meanwhile, the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority started providing wireless ISP services for the ASDOE and wireless hotspot services at 33 public and private elementary schools beginning July 1, 2012. Additionally, ASTCA also provided unfiltered access to the World Wide Web at 50Mbps of dedicated ISP bandwidth for 11 DOE offices, 60 school sites, and the Feleti Barstow Public Library.
 
BLAST PROJECT
 
During the first quarter of FY 2013, the number of jobs created and retained under the BLAST project for the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority totaled 57. This is according to information from the FY 2013 first quarter performance report for ASTCA submitted by Executive Director Aleki Sene.
 
For the BLAST project, job tasks and project activities included the completion of many projects including the Submarine Plant desk top study for the Manu’a undersea fiber optic cable, the Archaeological Monitoring Plan, the Olotele-Ta’u microwave path study, and the LIDAR existing underground utility overlays for all servicing areas.
 
Final outside plant (OSP) fiber distribution plans for the Laulii to Fagatogo distribution fiber build are completed, in addition to the pre-bid conference and site walk. In the first quarter of FY 2013, ASTCA conducted a series of training and certification courses for their technical staff on fiber splicing and new systems that ASTCA is installing under the BLAST program, as well as those that are already in service.
 
ONESOSOPO PARK
 
Department of Parks and Recreation Director Pili Gaoteote says that the bleachers at Onesosopo Park are no longer safe for public use and “it really needs to be repaired.” In his department’s FY2013 first quarter performance report, Gaoteote said the main focus in this park is the repairing of the baseball field. He said 12 loads of sand were delivered to level the affected area in the outfield and another 10 loads of topsoil was also delivered for the same purpose.
 
He reported that trash pick-up, like any other public park in the territory, is done on a daily basis with 20-30 gallons of gasoline needed in order to operate the maintenance equipment for the park and the public restrooms there.
 
Onesosopo Park consists of a shelter, baseball field, and soccer field. It is frequented by local athletes, especially youngsters in the ongoing football and softball leagues, and members of the Faga’itua Vikings football squad who use the field for practice sessions.
 
ELECTION OFFICE
 
Acting Chief Election Officer Seupule S. Leo reported in his office’s FY 2013 first quarter performance report that the election overrun of $181,249.42 was because their proposed supplemental budget was not approved in its entirety.
 
The Supplemental Budget for the 2012 general election submitted to the Governor’s Office, the Budget Office and the local Legislature during budget hearings included costs of the general and run-off elections. The proposal was for the amount of $440,000; however, only $200,000 was approved by the Fono and signed by then Gov. Togiola Tulafono.
 
MULTI DISCIPLINE LAND MOBILE RADIO
 
This project was awarded to Durham Communications Inc., whose personnel were in the territory to initiate the installation of radios at Mt. Olotele, Breaker’s Point in Laulii, DPS West Substation in Leone, DPS Central Station in Fagatogo, and Mt. Alava. The project is aimed at creating a land mobile radio interoperable communications linkage in the untimely event of all hazard emergencies.
 
It is spearheaded by the Territorial Emergency Communications Committee (TECC) from the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) composed of the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority, the Department of Public Safety, Port Administration, the local Department of Homeland Security, the American Samoa Power Authority, KVZK-TV, etc.  
 
According to a report from ASDHS Acting Director Jacinta Brown, pursuant to the contract, 25% of the work within the Scope of Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of April 2013.
 
EVACUATION ROUTES – INUNDATION MAPPING
 
The National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program project manager, in conjunction with the Department of Commerce GIS Division, has identified evacuation routes throughout the territory, for modeling and inundation mapping. A contract with the University of Hawaii is in place for the development of inundation maps of evacuation routes throughout the territory. The project is scheduled to be completed by March 14, 2014.
 
Site visits by seismologists are slated for summer 2013 to deliver inundation mapping. LIDAR data information from NOAA is expected.
 
ISLAND WIDE SIREN SYSTEM
 
A total of 47 sirens have been installed and commissioned on Tutuila, Aunu’u, and the Manu’a Islands, with the installation of the last siren in Ofu tentatively scheduled for the week of February 24, 2013.
 
A scheduled maintenance call by the American Signal Corporation (ASC) is planned for the first quarter of the calendar year 2013 which will include replacement of certain components and all stand-by batteries, as covered under the maintenance warranty.
 
The local Department of Homeland Security is awaiting coordination between ASC and local contractor Paramount Builders to confirm their availability for travel to Manu’a to install the remaining siren for Ofu. Ocean transportation is provided through collaborative efforts with officials from the Department of Port Administration.
 



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