ASG buy out of Ottoville Center One approved
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved $1.5 million for the American Samoa government to purchase the Tafuna-based Ottoville Center One building and the land where the building sits, to house operations of the local Department of Homeland Security (ASDHS).
The funding approval was outlined in a Jan. 24, 2013 letter from FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate to then ASDHS director Mike Sala, who initiated the proposal for federal funds so that a building could be purchased to house the department’s operations that are currently spread-out around Tutuila.
For the purchase of the building and the land, currently owned by Haleck Enterprises Inc., ASDHS had requested to utilize $156,750 from FY 2009; $791,611 from FY 2010 and $551,639 from FY2911 Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP) funds.
“The activities American Samoa has outlined in the request ... meet the intent of the program guidance … ,” Fugate wrote and confirmed each funding amount from the three fiscal years.
Fugate also cited provisions of the federal Homeland Security Act, which “allows for such purchase if it achieves target capabilities related to preventing, preparing for, protecting against or responding to acts of terrorism.”
“The consolidation of emergency management and security operations for enhanced coordination and operations will without doubt aid preventing, preparing for, protection against, or responding to acts of terrorism; as well as assist in preparing for and responding to any disaster that would face American Samoa,” he wrote in the letter.
“There is no greater responsibility of government than the safety of our citizens. We are committed to supporting the efforts of the skilled and valiant men and women who serve in American Samoa and protect the people of the Territory,” says the letter.
ASDHS current director Utuali’i Iuniasolua Savusa said last week that the agreement for the purchase is being finalized with the Haleck family and hopes that everything will be in place before the end of the year. ASDHS’ Office of Vital Statistics is the only office that will remain at its current location in Fagaalu.
The purchase price could not be revealed by Utuali’i in Samoa News’ earlier story because the agreement needed to be finalized first.
Thereafter Samoa News sent questions to the FEMA regional office in Oakland, Calif., seeking comments on the total funds approved for this project and if the purchase is necessary for ASDHS as well as in accordance with federal law. Samoa News also asked if there are any restrictions placed on the spending of this money and any restrictions on who should occupy this building.
Yesterday morning, FEMA spokesperson Mary Simms informed Samoa News via e-mail: “As the SAA - State approving authority - American Samoa's Department of Homeland Security would be the most appropriate source to direct your query.”
“We've been in communication with ASDHS regarding your request and they have indicated they will be providing you with a letter from FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to ASDHS that will provide information relating to the grant amount and approval of the facility purchase,” she said.
She said Fugate approved the purchase of the facility on Jan. 24, 2013 and “ASDHS will provide you with a copy of the Jan. 24 letter that approves the use of funds ($1,500,000 total) from three fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011 of Homeland Security grant programs.”
“In addition, the letter states American Samoa's request to purchase the facility meets the intent of the program guidance and the Homeland Security Act,” she said.
Samoa News sought a copy of the letter from ASDHS, whose director provided the copy yesterday afternoon.
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