ASG News Briefs
DYWA PERFORMANCE FOCUSED ON VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Grant funding continues to provide much needed financial assistance for programs administered by the Department of Youth and Women's Affairs for victims of domestic violence, according to DYWA Acting Director Pa'u Roy Ausage.
Pa’u also said in his FY2013 first quarter performance report that some of the problems facing his office include the lack of funds to implement numerous projects for youth and women, pointing to a lack of professionals and paraprofessionals such as grant writers to search for and write grant proposals.
The first quarter report stated that last year, funds from the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant administered by the Criminal Justice and Planning Agency (CJPA) paid for the training of ten employees, who were victims of domestic violence, and for skills training for women and men who were also considered victims of domestic violence. The training included sewing and pillow case embroidery, weaving and restoration of fine mats and laufala processing.
The 9th sewing session of the Lalaga Faatasi sewing program closed on Dec. 10, 2012 after thirteen weeks of training. At the end of the program, 39 participants graduated and received certificates of completion. The sewing project was also held at the Territorial Correctional Facility for women inmates every Monday from 8am-4pm under the direction of trainer Ms. Soonaalofa Roberts and the supervision of TCF female police guards. This program was officially closed on Dec. 3, 2012.
Meanwhile, VAWA money continues to fund a full time program coordinator, a full time assistant coordinator to coordinate programs addressing domestic violence, and eight short term contract employees, who were previously paid with funds from the National Emergency Grant (NEG) program and the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).
The seven females and the lone male who comprise the fale lalaga continue to maintain pandanus plantations, process laufala for fine mat weaving and restoration, weave and make fala tui, process and weave 'afa, and make 'ie sae at the Department of Agriculture Samoan fale. Some of them were also mobilized to work on a voluntary basis in the operation and management of the Mapusaga Emergency Homeless Shelter.
American Samoa received funding of $81,807 for Program Year 2011 from the USHUD to assist with the operation of the Mapusaga Emergency Homeless Shelter (MEHS). The Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs continues to operate and manage the shelter located at the Tafuna Industrial Park. During the first quarter of fiscal year 2013, three families were housed at the MEHS. A family of two, a family of four, and a family of one — a total of seven individuals. The grant also helped one family by providing financial assistance to help pay for their rental and utility charges.
In addition to the MEHS, the ESG (Emergency Solutions Grant) Program also funded another component called Homeless Prevention. Under the program, one local household received financial assistance to pay for the cost of rent and utilities.
OVS PERFORMANCE ENHANCED WITH TWO NEW DATABASE SYSTEMS
According to the FY 2013 first quarter performance reports of the Office of Vital Statistics (OVS) and the AS Department of Homeland Security (which oversees the OVS), the implementation of two important database systems now allow for more accurate and verifiable record data to be accessed by authorized users — both local and federal.
The contract for the OVS database system was awarded to WEI Incorporated, and initial work allowed for the issuance of identification cards beginning October 2011. The cards passed a trial and error period and the public has been receiving their ID cards upon verification of pertinent information with supporting documentation by OVS staff.
The second phase is extensive and requires careful scrutiny and attention to details when transferring hard copies to digital images of all original records and copies of certificates documented by the OVS.
The second database system installed is the OVS Electronic Verification of Vital Events (EVVE) Database that was undertaken by the AS Department of Homeland Security.
The project is in conjunction with the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS) for the procurement, installation and commission of the EVVE database. Hardware and necessary equipment for this project have been installed and tested.
The report states that since its implementation in August 2012, federal departments and agencies that have utilized this service through their verification requests include the Department of Defense for military personnel recruitment, the US Passport Office, the Social Security Administration, and the US Office of Personnel Management for new personnel, while local government office verifications originated from Department of Public Safety — Office of Motor Vehicles.
OVS PERFORMANCE NUMBERS IN FIRST QUARTER
During the first quarter of FY2013, the OVS issued to the public 1,037 birth certificates and received from the AS Medical Center Authority for registering 199 birth certificates. This is in addition to the registration of 58 death certificates.
The OVS also handled/issued 23 (new/old) copies of death certificates and issued 268 ID cards (new, renewal, replacement) during that same time period. They also handled/issued 111 marriage certificates/license copies/registration and 295 requests for birth certificate verifications for social security purposes from the US Passport Agency-Hawaii, the US Embassy – New Zealand, the Attorney General’s Office, and via the ASG government website email. The OVS also processed 12 registrations for ministers/pastors and facilitated over 2,418 visitors/vital requests in the office for the reporting period.
Altogether, the OVS collected a total of $14,175 through the provision of vital records and identification cards between October and December 2012. According to their performance report, the OVS had a balance of $15,369.72 at the close of the FY2013 first quarter. Their budget was for $37,875 and total expenditures for that time period amounted to $22,505.08.
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’ 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 the 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.”