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Former Deputy Director of HR denies governor’s comments

Former Deputy Director of Human Resources Ulugaono Waldie Allen claims the approval of the salary boost of $38,000 to $48,000 for Police Commander Va’aomala Sunia followed a recommendation by then Commissioner of Public Safety, Tuaolo Manaia Fruean to Evelyn Langford, former HR Director and was approved by then Governor Togiola Tulafono and then Budget Director Malemo Tausaga.


This was revealed in a letter Ulugaono wrote, addressed to Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga, after the governor defended the move by Human Resources Director Le’i Sonny Thompson to remove Ulugaono as Deputy Director of Human Resources for this administration.


According to Ulugaono, the letter was delivered to Governor Lolo; however Samoa News was told by the Governor’s Office that the governor has not seen or received the letter.


Samoa News contacted Commander Sunia for comment, who said he would speak to  Samoa News at a later time; however as of press time he’s yet to return the call. Lolo said during a press conference last week, that discrepancies were revealed during the transition period, where there were a lot of promotions approved by the former HR Deputy, yet they were not budgeted.


According to the letter delivered to Samoa News on Wednesday, written and signed by Ulugaono, the promotion the governor was referring to had been officially requested and recommended by Tuaolo and addressed to Langford.


“The request was officially approved by the Governor (Togiola) in accordance with the routing of the paper work. The same request went to the Budget Office for its review and approval by Mr. Malemo Tausaga, the Director for the Budget Office [who] approved and forwarded the request to the Department of Human Resources for its review and approval, an assessment review was done based on the credentials and the years of working experience of the individual and I approved the assessment as recommended for input afterwards to the Director of the Budget Office Malemo Tausaga, who electronically approved it in IFAS (System) before my approval, who [then] sent this action through the system.”


Continuing, Ulugaono wrote “But for you (Governor) to accuse me of approving a promotion and to accused [sic] me of getting side kick from it is completely absurd and its defamation and slander of my character as an employee of the American Samoa Government for 39 years and 9 months of dedicated service.”


Ulugaono in his letter noted that the former governor and budget director had approved the request by affixing their signatures of approval to process such action, and added “I truly believed that is proper authorization.”


He urged the governor to review the official Personnel File of Va’aomala Sunia with all the documents in it and said, “I have nothing to hide or done anything wrong to this government and under the watchful eyes of our good Lord.”


Last week during the press conference with the media, Governor Lolo noted removal of “several” deputy directors from their positions, which he felt “heavily contributed to the corruption that was taking place in the previous administration.”


Lolo said the Human Resources Department was highly involved in this issue.


“They (HR) approved promotions that were done without authority, there were five Departments, and I strongly advised (HR) to find ways to remove those people. I don’t want those people to have the power to repeat the same, but we were trying to find ways to deal with the law on those issues.


“For instance, the deputy (Director) was involved in approving a promotion from 38,000 to 48,000 on the last day of the previous administration — so those are the type of cases that I’m trying to avoid repeating,” the governor said.


Ulugaono in his letter noted that he dully performed his duties with the government to the best of his knowledge and abilities.


“It is very hard for me (Ulugaono) or anyone to believe that you (Governor) to hold a press conference and be on the Samoa News to defend your decision of appointing the new Deputy Director for Department of Human Resources with a salary of $60,000, a position that is not on the Approved Budget for Fiscal Year 2013 that was approved by the Fono and signed by  Governor Togiola Tulafono.”


He further stated in his letter the Deputy Director position for DHR was vacant which was advertised, which he and Mrs. Liu both applied for and they all went through the interview process in which he was selected to be the HR Deputy several years ago.


“I was not appointed because the Deputy Director is a career service position but I was promoted in compliance with the American Samoa Code Annotated (ASAC) title 7 and the American Samoa Administrative Code (ASAC) title 4, Government employees.


“For your information, I am in no position to disrespect you as a Governor, but with all due respect you could have seek [sic] the other side,” said Ulugaono in his letter.


During the press conference, last week Lolo said, upon reviewing the transition information from each department, salary boosts were uncovered and “the directors were given the order to get another person lined up for these jobs.”


The governor said currently the government is in the process of removing some deputies to other positions.“That office (DHR) was heavily involved in doing that, they approved promotions, all kinds of personnel actions illegally,” he said. Samoa News, asked if the governor was referring to Ulugaono, and he replied, “…Yes, Ulugaono”.