Energy marshals part of aggressive cost containment
Further cost containment measures being implemented by Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga include no new vehicle purchases for FY2013, travel to be approved by the governor, Vehicle Usage Policy enforcement, and each department is to appoint an energy marshal to watch over conservation efforts to bring down ASG power usage.
Cost containment measures were outlined in memos issued last Friday by the governor and distributed to members of his cabinet.
(See yesterday’s edition regarding some of the new measures implemented.)
One of the most aggressive cost containment measures that is detailed in one of the governor’s memos is the “cell phone policy”. According to Lolo, this policy is to help reduce government spending by no longer purchasing cells phones or paying for the monthly cell charges for employees of the Executive Branch.(See separate story in today’s issue of Samoa News.)
Lolo said such measures are necessary in an attempt to aggressively respond to the deteriorating financial health of the American Samoa Government.
The governor made clear that all directors and acting directors of all executive branch departments, agencies and offices are responsible for strictly enforcing the cost containment measures without prejudice.
These measures will remain in effect for the entire 2013 Fiscal Year unless earlier amended based on the financial condition of the American Samoa Government, Lolo notes.
The memo states that all travel requests will require the governor’s approval based on justification — grant requirement, training pointing to upgrading skills, etc.
One of the justifications also listed includes whether the learned skills from off-island training can be taught to other government employees through conducting agency in-house workshops.
Lolo said ASG owes the American Samoa Power Authority a large sum for an “accrued, unpaid electricity bill, which has become financially unmanageable given the government’s current deteriorating financial position.” He didn’t reveal an updated amount of the outstanding debt.
He said ASG in response must engage in an aggressive campaign to reduce its energy consumption habits and directors/acting directors are advised to appoint an energy marshal within their respective agencies to ensure that all lights and air conditioners are turned off at the end of each work day, allowing only the security lights to be on.
The energy marshal is charged with maintaining a schedule to track energy use by the agency each month, and that person’s first task will be to establish a baseline energy reading starting on January 4, 2013.
The memo goes on to say that it expects within “six (6) months, the cost of one Kilowatt of electricity will be reduced which will significantly improve the government’s financial situation,”
Working with the Territorial Energy Office and the American Samoa Power Authority on ways to reduce energy consumption, is highly recommended to the Directors, the governor said.
According to the memo, “Existing [personnel] contracts will continue until expiration at which time they will not be renewed. Change Orders or contract amendments will not be permitted unless thoroughly justified to the governor, highlighting benefits to be accrued resulting from the proposed change order or amendments.”
“No new contracts will be awarded without clear identification of the funding sources and availability of said funds is unrestricted,” the memo states.
PROMOTIONS & RECLASSIFICATIONS
The memo states that a vacancy in a higher grade position with career service status which is deemed crucial to the overall service delivery system of the agency will be thoroughly justified to the governor for his review and approval.
“The justification package will include the alignment of this position within the approved organization chart and distribution of duties and responsibilities in relation to the overall legal mandate of the agency,” it says.
“Moreover, recommendations with respect to whether the position can be filled from within or be advertised will be included,” said Lolo.
“Given the focus on cost containment, it would be the preference not to fill the position but to redistribute the duties and responsibilities to existing employees,” the governor said, adding that this is based on the assumption that the government’s workforce is bloated.
The Vehicle Use Policy or VUP as explained by the governor, is to be overseen or policed for full compliance by the directors and acting directors. A separate memo issued last Friday by Lolo outlines the VUP and was detailed in Samoa News’ Saturday edition.
To oversee the VUP, Lolo is asking for monthly reports from the department heads that “chronicle the use of each vehicle under the agency’s charge.”
Added to the VUP, as stated in the memo, is: “Nogovernment vehicle will be driven by any employee who does notpossess a valid driver’s license or an official government driver’s permit/license. An employee who possesses a valid driver’s license but has noOfficial Government Driver’s Permit/License cannotdrive a government vehicle.”
Lolo in the cost containment measures memo, also makes the statement that “No new vehicles will be purchased during this fiscal year.”
(The memo does not say if this pertains only to vehicle purchases with local funds or if it includes grant funds.)