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DPW staff shortage may be alleviated by NEG workers

Some participants of the National Emergency Grant employed with the Department of Public Works will be given permanent jobs in the department, but will start off on six-month contracts, while future funding for making these jobs permanent will be sought in the fiscal year 2013 budget proposal.

This was Gov. Togiola Tulafono’s revelation on his weekend radio program, saying that some 200 NEG participants were temporarily employed for 90-days at various ASG departments and their salaries were paid by the NEG, which is a U.S. Department of Labor program administered locally by the Department of Human Resources.

Togiola says he was informed Friday that most of the ASG departments want to keep their temporary NEG participants to make them permanent workers, because of their excellent job performances, and the need to have them on board these departments, which are short- staffed.

He said some departments have found vacant positions so that these participants can be kept on a permanent basis and these workers will be of a great help to these ASG departments.

The governor also said that he held discussions last week with DHR director Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford to identify funding which would allow NEG participants at DPW to continue working there for six months because a lot of work needs to be carried out, and there is a staff shortage.

He said all NEG participants at DPW who had excellent work performances and who were honest in carrying out their work duties and responsibilities, as well as being best qualified for the job, will be kept on at DPW under a short term six month contract; while permanent funding will be sought for their permanent employment through the proposed FY 2013 budget. (FY 2013 begins Oct. 1, 2012)

The governor didn’t  reveal the number of NEG participants who will be given six-month contracts at DPW or hired on board other ASG departments.

In its first quarter performance report for current fiscal year 2012, DPW points out again that it continues to face a shortage in manpower while project work increases. The report says DPW is in need of both “skilled workers” — such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers — and “Engineers”. But in an effort to prevent overrun in the budget, DPW has “not acquired such person(s),” the report says.

Later in the governor’s radio program, an elder male caller thanked Togiola for the decision to provide permanent jobs for some of the NEG participants; however, he said that there are reports that ASG was not in a good financial condition and the caller questioned whether these permanent jobs are politically motivated — as this is an election year.

The governor said there are no politics involved because he is not running for any office this election year. He said the government departments are depending on these NEG participants to assist in the work load and giving these participants permanent jobs will benefit both the government and the families of the NEG participants.

Togiola is barred by local statute from seeking a third consecutive four-year term as governor and he announced last month he was not seeking any other political post this election year, including the Congressional seat.

Samoa News notes he has not publicly stated support for any one of the declared five teams running in the gubernatorial 2012 race.