Proposed FY 2019 funding for American Samoa takes a cut
Proposed funding for American Samoa’s basic government operations and capital improvement projects (CIP) in fiscal year 2019 will be reduced from FY 2018, under the Interior Department's Office of Insular Affairs proposed FY 2019 budget submitted to Congress by the Trump Administration, according to OIA budget justification documents.
OIA announced in a news release on Monday this week that US President Donald J. Trump has proposed $608 million for FY 2019 for the benefit of fellow Americans in the U.S. Territories as well as the freely associated states.
“The 2019 budget request prioritizes the Department’s mission of restoring trust and fulfilling insular responsibilities,” said Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs Doug Domenech.
OIA also released the 95-page budget justification document, which shows that American Samoa’s proposed funding for basic operations is reduced by $1.06 million down to $21.52 million compared to $22.59 million approved for FY 2018. (FY 2017 award was $22.75 million.
Each year, OIA provides grant funds to American Samoa for the operation of the local government, including the judiciary. And the FY 2019 budget request will continue to support American Samoa government operations but will require greater self-sufficiency from American Samoa, said OIA.
Of the total $21.52 million — $11.41 million is proposed for basic operations (compared to $12.48 million for FY 2018); $7.9 million to LBJ Medical Center operations (same as FY 2018); $1.35 million to ASCC operation (same as FY 2018); and $855,000 for High Court (same amount as FY 2018),
A breakdown of how the money will be spent is not detailed in the document.
OIA says CIP funds address a variety of infrastructure needs in the U.S. territories including critical infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, wastewater and solid waste systems.
Additionally, determination of the annual allocation is made on the basis of a set of competitive criteria that measure the demonstrated ability of the governments to exercise prudent financial management practices and to meet federal grant requirements.
Baseline funding — or total amount — for American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and US Virgin Islands, totals $27.72 million. And these territories compete for the same pot of money and therefore allocations will vary from year to year depending upon the performance of each insular government with respect to the competitive criteria.
Approved FY 2018 funding for American Samoa totaled $10.32 million, according to OIA.
American Samoa’s baseline funding for FY 2019 is $9.78 million but it has been given an additional $84,000 as a result of the competitive process, giving our territory a proposed total funding of $9.86 million, according to the budget justification document.
Over the past year, several important CIP projects in American Samoa were completed while others made significant progress. For example, Public Works Department completed numerous school maintenance projects, while the Health Department completed renovations and an expansion of the Faga’alu Primary Care Center.
The Education Department completed construction of a new classroom building for Samoana High School to alleviate overcrowding. For the LBJ hospital, it “made steady progress on the renovation and expansion” of the Labor, Delivery and Operating Room.
The American Samoa Community College completed its new Multipurpose Building.
According to OIA, the FY 2019 CIP funding will be used to continue meeting critical infrastructure needs in American Samoa similar to previous years.
Details of the budget justification document, which includes other funding for American Samoa from OIA programs, can be found on OIA website: www.doi.gov/oia