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Lolo: “Blatant disregard” of hiring procedures still a problem

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has again reminded his directors of the American Samoa Government recruitment and hiring policy after learning of the “blatant disregard” of these procedures by some executive branch departments and offices.

In a Nov. 7th letter to directors, the governor explained that it has come to his attention that the “unauthorized placement and recruitment” of employees continues to be an ongoing activity among several ASG departments and agencies.

“Although this has been emphasized and reiterated several times in the past, please be reminded that this practice needs to cease immediately,” the governor wrote.

Lolo reminded directors of provision in local law, which states that, “In no instance will a government official allow an employee to enter on duty unless he has been assured by the director of [Department of Human Resources] or a designated member of his [or her] staff that the appointment action has been approved.”

Further, a provision of the American Samoa Administrative Code (ASAC), provides that “the official effective date for all recruitment and placement actions, as well as other personnel actions, shall be established by the office of manpower resources except in the case of resignation, the date of which is established by the employee who is resigning.”

Another provision of the ASAC, cited by the governor, states that the Human Resources Department director, has primary responsibility for establishing and administering procedures for filing vacancies in compliance with appropriate federal and ASG rules.

“To continue with a blatant disregard of the procedures stated above puts us in violation of the [federal] Fair Labor Standards Act and further exposing ASG to liability,” Lolo tells directors.

To ensure compliance, Lolo informed directors that all actions related to recruitment, retention, contracts as well as change orders, short-term extension “and the likes will originate” from DHR.

“The only exception is that of contractors or appointees named by the Governor,” Lolo added, and requested cooperation from directors.

During previous cabinet meetings, the governor as well as Human Resources director Eseneiaso Liu have had emphasized to directors the hiring policies which includes that DHR’s approval is required. Additionally, there must be funding allocated or budget to pay the new employee’s salary.

Among the problems that have surfaced in the past, is that ASG entities hire a new employee, who then ends up waiting for a long time — even six months — before getting a paycheck because not only is the person’s paperwork not processed through DHR, but also there is no approval by DHR. Additionally, there is a lack of an identified funding source — local or federal — to fund the hire.

Since the start of the current fiscal year 2019 on Oct. 1st this year, Samoa News has received unconfirmed reports of some ASG agencies that started hiring new workers.