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House again endorses Ivy Aiumu-Taufa’asau to head Procurement

In a unanimous vote yesterday of 15-0, the House has again endorsed the governor’s nomination of Ivy Aiumu-Taufa’asau as chief procurement officer, to head the Procurement Office. She now goes through a Senate Government Operations Committee confirmation hearing set for 8:30 a.m. today.

The House vote comes after a House Government Operations Committee confirmation hearing held earlier in the day where committee chairman Rep. Faimealelei A. Allen reminded his colleagues that the nominee had gone through a complete review of her credentials and education during her confirmation hearing last year. where the House approved the nomination but it was rejected by the Senate.

During the one-hour hearing yesterday, Rep. Taotasi Archie Soliai wanted to know some of the challenges faced by the nominee during the eleven months she has been acting CPO, or any issue that the Fono can help address to assist the Office of Procurement going forward.

Aiumu-Taufa’asau said the major issue faced by the agency is the lack of available funds to purchase supplies and inventory to re-stock the government warehouse. She said she heard that in past years, there was a special account for this purpose, but none exists at this point.

“That’s the most challenging right now,” she said adding that staff assigned to deal with these duties are without work to do, so they are being reassigned to a bathroom renovation project, which is only temporary. 

She said the only work for her staff at the supplies division is the ordering of paper supplies, such as those for copy machines, paper cups, regular paper and toilet paper.

Rep. Tapumanaia Galu Satele Jr. suggested that the cabinet member-appointee look at transferring these personnel to work at other ASG departments and agencies, where help is needed. He said the transfer could be on a temporary basis.

Taotasi inquired into the status of the Call Center Training Facility project to which Aiumu-Taufa’asau responded that this is a “dead procurement issue” since the two companies awarded the contract have “withdrawn” from the project.

She says that any update on this project, or whether it will move forward, will have to come from the director of the Department of Human Resources, the funding agency, who is also the one responsible for this project. (DHR director Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford has yet to state publicly what will happen to this project and has not responded to Samoa News questions from last month)

The committee also inquired about the request for proposal (RFP) on the new boat for Manu’a which has been advertised publicly, to which she replied that closing date for this RFP is around Feb. 4 and the project is overseen by the Department of Public Works. She said this vessel is to operate between the islands of the Manu’a group and once the RFP is closed, a source evaluation board will be appointed. Board members will include Manu’a faipule Toeaina Faufano Autele, who requested to be on the board, she said.

Rep. Pulele’iite T. Liamatua urged the nominee to make sure that an appropriate boat for the island group is purchased instead of the one that he describes as a tourist boat — referring to the Fo’isia.

(Samoa News understands the vessel has not been in service for over a year and a half, and while it did go to Manu’a for at least two trips, it is said to still have problems with its main engine and its generator(s), which continue to be unresolved.)

Rep. Larry Sanitoa shared with Aiumu-Taufa’asau concerns from the private sector over “inconsistency” of government policies when it comes to ‘invitation for bids’ from Procurement office, saying that the process needs to be done right and to be consistent to prevent any legal action being taken against the government by a member of the business community.

The nominee replied that she will look into this process but she also explained even if a vendor offers the lowest bid, there is still more criteria to be considered when making a final decision.

There were no other specific questions for the nominee, who was praised by several lawmakers. At the end of the hearing, Aiumu-Taufa’asau informed the committee that the door to her office is always open to the House of Representatives in the event anyone has questions or matters for discussions.

Aiumu-Taufa’asau has been serving in the post since late January last year when then CPO, Tauiliili Pat Tervola passed away. Prior to that she served as deputy chief procurement officer for several years.

She is a retired civilian employee of the U.S. Navy, where she worked for 22 years as a program analyst, contract specialist and purchasing agent. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics.