ASG employees paid with fed grants — “stay home”
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has applied the federal shutdown order to all local government operations that are funded fully with federal grants. This was according to a memorandum issued to Departments and Agencies yesterday where the governor instructed ASG employees whose salaries are paid with federal grants to “stay home”.
According to the ASG FY2014 budget, close to 2,000 job positions are funded by federal monies, with the majority of these jobs being held by local government career service workers.
However, the governor pointed out that LBJ Hospital Medical Center, American Samoa Community College and the Department of Education are the agencies that will be exempted from ASG's shutdown.
The governor called an emergency meeting with his cabinet to discuss the situation, after he issued the memorandum.
“In light of the implemented Federal shutdown and given its direct impact on our financing operation and uncertain duration, I am compelled to apply the Federal Shutdown order on all government operations funded with federal grants."
Lolo ordered the shutdown of all non-essential operations funded through federal resources except for those services exempted by the President of the United States, which are the hospital, ASCC and DOE.
“Departments and Agencies with personnel salaries funded exclusively by federal resources, notwithstanding the exempted agencies, are directly affected by this order and should therefore stay home. Locally funded employees should be assigned to ensure that department and agency services to the people of American Samoa are not compromised,” said Governor Lolo.
According to the memorandum, the order was to be effective at midnight last night (Oct. 2, 2013) which will remain in affect until the Federal shutdown order is lifted by President Obama, evidenced by approved congressional action. “Determination whether non-work hours during the shutdown period will be paid is predicated on declared policy by the Federal government.”
The governor urged all Departments and Agencies to make sure the quality of service to the people is maintained by assigning locally funded personnel to take over the vacuum created by the furlough order.
“It is regrettable that this action is being taken, but we cannot jeopardize our financial integrity at the onset of this fiscal year. If the federal policy precludes the payment of lost work time, our approved budget lacks the financial capacity to absorb this cost.”
The governor also pointed out to Directors that if their agency faces special circumstances, which significantly affect services to the community, they should discuss the matter with him personally.
The Department of Human and Social Services (DHSS) had already published a 3-day delay in issuing their ASNAP or food stamps and ASWIC benefits to their recipients, which are now scheduled for this Friday, October 4.
According to a statement issued by the DHSS Director, Taeaoafua Meki Solomona this delay is necessary to give DHSS sufficient time to secure temporary funding to pay for supplemental nutrition assistance for some 10,000 low-income recipients consisting of the elderly, blind and disabled as well as pregnant women, nursing mothers and children up to five years of age.
“The only exception to this action is the issuance of WIC checks to purchase infant formula for over 1,000 infants,” which was to take place as regularly scheduled.
Government agencies that are 100 % federally funded are the Territorial Administration on Aging, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, Criminal Justice Planning Agency, Territorial Energy Office, American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Human and Social Services.
Copies of the governor’s letter were also sent to the Fono leaders, Chief Justice Michael Kruse with the Judicial branch and Lydia Faleafine Nomura, Field Representative for Department of Interior.
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