ASG News Briefs
LBJTMC TITLE X FUNDS
Even after resolving the conflict between Title X requirements for the financial assistance program and the financial assistance program requirements for Medicare/Medicaid, and in addition to resuming the use of the original criteria and adjusting the thresholds for participation in the program to cover more people, the LBJ Tropical Medical Center still suffered a loss of about $900,000 during the first quarter of fiscal year 2013.
This was noted in the LBJTMC FY2013 first quarter performance report submitted by LBJ CEO Mike Gerstenberger.
Title X funds the Family Planning Clinic and its requirements for financial assistance programs include the sliding scale discounts for individuals with low income.
ASG WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT BOH CHECKS AFTER MARCH 15
ASG Treasurer Falema’o Pili has announced that ASG will continue to honor personal checks from Bank of Hawaii accounts for all ASG services until March 15.
After that, the ASG Department of Treasury will no longer accept checks drawn from the Bank of Hawaii. This is in accordance with the government’s long standing policy of not accepting checks drawn from off-island financial institutions.
Bank of Hawaii will be closing its American Samoa branches of operation on March 15.
In the meantime, the ASG’s next payroll set to be released on March 11 will be the first payroll that will be issued without any payroll deductions for payments to financial institutions and private businesses. The only exceptions are deductions for normal withholding like taxes, social security, and retirement; and payments to the American Samoa Power Authority, the American Samoa Telecommunications Authority, the Red Cross, and the Development Bank of American Samoa.
Falema’o, with support from the administration, says ASG’s payroll deduction service is not cost effective for the government.
DOH REPORTS OUTDATED ASG POLICIES, PROCEDURES HURT THEIR EFFORTS
The Department of Health finished off the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 with a balance of $6,736 in local appropriation funds. Their budget for the quarter was $405,875. This does not include money from federal grant programs.
DOH’s budget this year from local appropriation funds is $1.7 million with expenditures of $399,139 as of December 31, 2012 leaving a balance of $1,300,861 for the rest of the fiscal year.
The figures were included in the DOH FY2013 First Quarter Performance Report submitted by Department of Health Director Motusa Tuileama Nua to Acting Director of Planning and Budget Office Catherine Saelua on January 30, 2013.
In the report, Motusa says his department lacks internal controls, with outdated ASG policies and procedures for purchasing, travel, personnel, hiring, and inventory tracking, in addition to the lack of funding.
He said the Environmental Health Services or the Sanitation Inspectors are still driving around with ten-year-old vehicles, which are unsafe for driving to villages off the main road like Vatia, Afono, Fagasa, etc.
“The vehicles were acquired back in 1996 and have not been surveyed in order for the department to justify new vehicles for the Sanitation Division’s daily operations out in the field,” Motusa wrote, adding that the Sanitation Inspectors have limited supplies and equipment for their operation.
Motusa said the Treasury Department is another barrier to their day to day operations.
He said the Grants Division returned items or POs that were approved from the Budget Office and Procurement when they were submitted to Accounts Payable. “This caused back logs of payments to vendors and the discrediting of ASG’s purchasing power to both local and off-island businesses,” Motusa wrote. “This really hurts our efforts to provide the needed service to the community and the people of American Samoa.”
TERRITORIAL ADMINISTRATION ON AGING (TAOA)
Acting Director of the Territorial Administration on Aging (TAOA) Kuresa F. Paopao says the only impediment they face is the lack of adequate funds. He said, “I wish the local government would do something about it, and fast.”
In TAOA’s Fiscal Year 2013 First Quarter Performance Report, Paopao wrote, “We could improve the services we’re now giving our seniors and re-employ others that we have put on hold” when we receive more funds. TAOA’s first quarter budget was $583,125 and after expenditures of $431,530.63 the balance was $151,594.37
TAOA is a service provider for the senior citizens of American Samoa, and provides food vouchers every month to eligible seniors who are 60 years and older. TAOA’s Senior Community Employment Services Program for those who are 55 years old and older is still ongoing. Currently 3,185 individuals receive TAOA support services and qualify for monthly food vouchers valued at $25 per person.
The total number of participants is consistent every month, give or take those who travel off-island, pass away, or forget to pick up their vouchers.
TAOA offers part-time employment for seniors to work four hours a day, five days a week performing community service or helping out in government agencies or the private sector. Currently, TAOA has 144 employees in its part-time employment services.
GOVERNMENT VEHICLE POLICY CLARIFIED
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has made it clear that vehicles under the auspices of agencies and departments are not to be exchanged without approval from the Governor’s Office.
“Vehicles purchased with grant funds must stay with the agency administering the grant,” Lolo wrote in a letter to all agency and department directors last month. “Local funds were appropriated specifically to purchase vehicles for the requesting agency and department and are therefore accounted in the Office of Property Management records as such.”
Lolo said when vehicles are exchanged or commandeered by a director, “these records must properly reflect the change.”
He added, “This practice must cease immediately. If vehicles are exchanged or commandeered, these actions must be undone immediately.”
The Governor has instructed the Office of Property Management to inventory all vehicles and to make sure that all vehicles purchased with each agencies funds are in the possession of the respective agency.
Lolo reminded all directors that General Memorandum 0003-13 “authorizes only the director to drive a government vehicle home.” All other vehicles are to remain on agency/department compounds overnight unless authorized by the Governor’s Office.
The exemption, according to the Governor, is provided to first responders; however, the suggestion was made to the directors of these agencies to make sure that overnight vehicles are assigned only to the employee who must respond during emergencies.
The new 24-hour sticker is now ready and will be issued for vehicles that have received authorization from the Governor’s Office. All other vehicles with the old 24-hour sticker will be impounded. “It behooves you to submit your requests and justification for 24-hour vehicles for your agency,” Lolo concluded.
Copies of the Governor’s letter were forwarded to Lt. Governor Lemanu Peleti Mauga, the Governor’s Chief of Staff Fiu J. Saelua, Director of the Office of Property Management Malo Niumata, and the Commissioner of Public Safety William E. Haleck.
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