Can you hear me now? ASG's new cell phone policy
ASG employees with the Executive Branch will soon be responsible for the purchase and monthly costs of cellular telephones and other portable electronic devices, according to a memo issued last week Friday by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga.
The general purpose of the “cell phone policy” memo is to reduce government spending by requiring each employee of the Executive Branch to be responsible for the purchase and defrayment of the accrued monthly charges incurred with the use of his/her cell phone.
It further states that at the close of business on Jan. 11, all future incurred monthly charges paid by the American Samoa Government resulting from the use of a cell phone under the possession of any employee will be borne by the user.
Moreover, no government funds will be used heretofore to purchase a cell phone or any other portable electronic device for the benefit of any government employee within the Executive Branch.
The memo gives the authority to acting directors “to aggressively implement this policy” within their respective agencies by assuming the lead in examining monthly communication bills received from the American Samoa TeleCommunications Authority and BlueSky Communications, with appropriate actions taken swiftly to mitigate policy violations.
The memo further states that directors and acting directors “are afforded latitude to request a waiver from this policy by submitting a request to the governor for review and approval supported by a detailed justification package demonstrating the need for certain employees to be supplied cell phones or other portable electronic communication devices.”
The window of seven working days — from the date of the Jan. 4th memo – is provided to avail sufficient time to the directors and acting directors to implement the intent of this policy.
“The employees of each respective agency are to be informed of the declared policy to provide enough time for them to make alternative arrangements,” the memo says, and noted that this policy remains in effect indefinitely unless superseded by an amending policy declaration.
According to the memo, Legislature and Judiciary branches will be exempted and subject to their own respective declared policies on the issue. Also exempted are First Responder Agencies such as the Department of Public Safety, Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health.
While semi-autonomous agencies of ASG are granted operational independence, Lolo strongly recommends that a similar policy be adopted to reduce wasted resources which could facilitate the reduction of rates charged for services which financially burden the people of American Samoa.
“It is also advised that the exempt government agencies must develop internal policies to regulate the use of cell phones and other portable communication devices to ensure that such instruments are only used for government business,” the memo states.