Gov brings hammer down on unauthorized govt travel
Frustrated with continued violation of already set government travel polices, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has ordered that no travel per diem will be issued to a traveler unless the travel authorization (TA) gets his approval and is fully executed, and failure to follow the policies will result in the director, or the person who authorized the travel, having to pay for the said unapproved travel.
The governor’s disappointment was outlined in a new memo to directors last Friday, following previous memos outlining travel policies and processing of TAs. Among the governor’s memo was a recent one, dated Aug. 28, reiterating the policy in which TA requests must be submitted for the governor’s review and approval 30 days prior to travel.
However, “either you don’t read these policy documents or you have no regard or respect for these policy pronouncements,” the governor wrote to directors in the memo last Friday, which was also the same day that Lolo said eight TAs “were rushed to me for my review and approval for travel... that very night.”
“This was the latest of the continued violation of established travel policy,” Lolo said, adding that two weeks ago, he was “forced to approve” travel which was taken without approval, due to the fact the travel agent was facing financial hardship because said TAs didn’t bear his signature, yet travel had already been taken.
“No travel per diem will be issued to the traveler unless the TA is fully executed, as evidenced by the obtainment of all appropriate signatories,” the governor said. Moreover the TA document will not be released to the travel agent for the issuance of the ticket unless all relevant signatories have been obtained.
Only the governor or acting governor are authorized to grant an exception to this policy.
According to the memo, the director is responsible for enforcing this policy and control should be applied at the departmental and agency level. Additionally, the 30-days review process is established before the travel is taken and all travel paid for by local funds is discouraged and reviewed on individual cases.
The consequence for not following these travel policies, Lolo said, is that the total travel cost connected with the travel “will be borne personally by the director or the person who authorized the travel.”
“The Treasurer will be instructed to deduct automatically the cost of the travel over a period of time from the director’s salary or from the person who authorized the travel,” the governor concluded.
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