USDOE official pleased with admin’s efforts in removing ‘high risk’ status
Although USDOE official Philip A. Maestri, Director of Risk Management Service says the “high risk” grantee status remains for the territory due to numerous deficiencies with USDOE funding that the American Samoa Government has not addressed, he was encouraged with the dedication displayed by the directors, managers and staff of the current administration.
Maestri stated in a letter to Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga following their recent visit that with the commitment shown by the current administration, he believes they are taking the matter seriously.
“I was particularly encouraged with the attentiveness, knowledge and dedication displayed by the directors, managers and staff during our meetings, leaving us with the belief and understanding that ASG has taken seriously the magnitude of the problems facing its operations and its responsibilities to take corrective actions to address them,” Maestri wrote.
He added he was quite pleased with the progress ASG is making in addressing its deficiencies and improving internal controls in various business processes. Maestri noted that a more detailed response will be sent in the next semiannual report due October 31, 2013.
Maestri said their time in the territory was “enlightening” and he was very much interested to see how enthusiastic and committed the current administration is in showing how far they have gone in improving fiscal operations since their visit in 2011.
“I commend you and your staff for your hard work and look forward to the time when the High Risk Status can be removed from ASG,” he said.
The Governor’s Legal Counsel and High Risk Task Force Chairman Steve Watson said the Task Force is continuing its regular meetings this week as it prepares its September 30 semi-annual report to the USDOE, due October 31.
“While we are pleased with the acknowledgement of progress by Mr. Maestri, we know we still have a lot of work ahead of us and look forward to continued satisfactory progress,” said Watson.
With the high risk status, the USDOE imposed special conditions on all grants awarded to ASG agencies, including but not limited to the American Samoa Department of Education (ASDOE) and the American Samoa Department of Health (ASDOH) for Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2013.
These special conditions also apply to all grants under the following programs awarded to any ASG agency for FFY 2014: Vocational Rehabilitation program (Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, (Rehabilitation Act)), Supported Employment program (Title VI-B of the Rehabilitation Act), Client Assistance Program (section 112 of the Rehabilitation Act), Protection and Advocacy of Individual Rights program (section 509 of the Rehabilitation Act), State Independent Living Services program (Title VII, Chapter 1, Part B of the Rehabilitation Act), and the Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Who Are Blind (Title VII, Chapter 2 of the Rehabilitation Act) collectively, Rehabilitation Act programs.
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