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Government housing projects lack much needed materials

Renovations and repairs to government housing units in Tafuna have come to a halt because of the lack of much needed building materials. As a matter of fact, not a single renovation job was carried out during the first quarter of FY2013. This was noted in the first quarter performance report for fiscal year 2013 from the Acting Director of the Department of Administrative Services Eliki Afalava, who oversees the government housing.


The report covers the period from October – December 2012 and includes the performance, accomplishments, impediments, and resources of all eight Administrative Services divisions based on the budget that was provided for their department by quarter.


The eight sub-divisions include the Director’s Office, the Office of Archives and Records Management, the USDA Meat Inspection Facility, ASG Mail Services, the Print Shop, the Executive Office Building Maintenance, EOB Security, and the Government Housing. 


For the Government Housing Division, their first quarter budget is listed as $396,250. Their expenses for the same time period amounted to approximately $349,454.64, leaving a balance of $46,795.36.


The Government Housing Division assigns housing privileges to eligible ASG contract employees working under the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches of the American Samoa Government. They are also responsible for issuing and controlling materials; conducting inventories of all ASG housing equipment, materials and furnishings; maintaining all housing units; and providing ground and landscaping services around the housing area.


According to the report, things are so bad that it isn’t uncommon for the employees to use their own money to purchase supplies that would otherwise take too long to receive, or not receive at all.


In addition, the response to trouble calls is limited in some ways due to the absence of a lot of the building materials that they used to have on hand in surplus. “There are still a few vacant units that we need to repair and prepare for occupancy, but things are on hold as we await materials and supplies to complete the renovations,” the report states.


“As has been the case for the past few quarters, we have been focusing our efforts on trouble calls and grounds keeping to keep our guys busy, and especially to keep our workplace looking organized and safe.”


These trouble calls include mostly minor plumbing and electrical problems. There has been an occasional tenant moving out and new tenant moving in during the quarter but most of the new contract employees, who require housing, are sent to the apartments at Fogagogo “because it is more likely that they would have the maintenance completed in a more timely manner than we have been able to offer,” the report states. A couple of tenants have moved in to the units at Fogagogo.


According to the report, Administrative Services seems to be having a continuous problem with tenants moving out without any given notice. “This results in the units being left dirty and in disarray with trash and junk everywhere, and sometimes there is even damage to the apartment and furniture. By the time we are made aware of the unauthorized check-out, we have no way of resolving the problems with the tenants.”


The daily landscaping routine of mowing the lawns and keeping the grounds of the entire housing premises has been firmly adhered to by the crew during the quarter, despite the eventual breakdown and constant maintenance of the landscaping tools and equipment. There have also been a few lengthy delays in acquiring gasoline and supplies to keep up with the landscaping.


The report notes that at the moment, the biggest impediment facing the Government Housing Division is the delay in getting much needed gasoline and other supplies in a timely manner in order to continue their grounds keeping services. “There have been a few occasions when the employees ended up purchasing fuel and supplies for the grounds keeping equipment in order to keep the work running efficiently,” the report notes.


“We are in dire need of furniture, building materials, and supplies to carry out our basic repairs. The majority of the units have furniture that need to be replaced. There is also the need to furnish the newly renovated/repaired units. We currently have a warehouse full of broken and/or damaged furniture.”


The delay in getting some of the necessary materials for renovating the units and furniture in a timely manner is the primary cause for projects being dragged out.


“We understand that it is not a speedy process, and in anticipation of the delays, we are able to use the extra work force to assist with the grounds keeping duties. We are aware and understand the importance of our role to provide safe and adequate housing for contract employees of the American Samoa Government.”