HR director puts the breaks on contract worker payouts
The American Samoa Government may have saved over $30,000 after the Human Resources Director denied a request to pay off Former Chief Immigration Officer Ufuti Ieremia’s contract after he was removed from the post.
HR Director Le’i Sonny Thompson rejected the request based on the Governor’s Memorandum for Cost Containment Measures, which states in part that existing contracts will continue until expiration, at which time they will not be renewed.
Samoa News understands that the portion of the general memorandum on Cost Containment Measures pertaining to contracts was to prevent contract buyouts and instead to move workers who are no longer needed in the positions for which they were contracted to other duties beneficial to government productivity.
In essence, to get some ‘bang for their buck’ rather than throwing large lump sums of money down a black hole.
Ufuti was removed as Chief Immigration Officer in March after Gov. Lolo M. Moliga issued a memorandum appointing Tamasa Dennis Fuimaono as the new Chief. Weeks later, Samoa News learned there was a move to pay off Ufuti’s contract.
Samoa News sent queries to the Governor’s Executive Assistant, Iulogologo Pereira and HR Director Le’i responded, noting the move for the pay off of Ufuti’s contract was a mistake, and one which he did not allow.
“It was a mistake, in fact the effective date (for the payout) was not until it was executed, meaning when it was forwarded to me I immediately spoke with the Attorney General (Afoa Moega L Su’esu’e Lutu) to make sure that the mistake was corrected immediately and that the terms and conditions of the Governor’s General Memorandum No. 0002 – 13 … are adhered to.”
The HR Director further stated that Ufuti’s contract approved by the previous administration ran from September 2012 to September 20, 2013.
“I am unable to tell you about the amount of the contract at this point. Had we allowed a payout it would’ve cost the government $34,093.60,” said Le’i. He told Samoa News, “Ufuti is back to work between the AG’s Office and the Immigration Office at the EOB in Utulei.”
Le’i told Samoa News that according to the timekeeper with the AG/Immigration office, Ufuti has been at work and has punched in his timecard.
However, Samoa News contacted the AG’s office yesterday and asked for Ufuti, and the receptionist said, “Ufuti does not work here at our office.” Further, when Samoa News placed a call to the Immigration Office, an immigration officer answered that Ufuti retired in February and no longer works with Immigration.
Samoa News also told an Immigration official that we had been told that Ufuti was still working, and the official said, “I’m shocked, this is news… I’m not aware of Ufuti coming back to work in our office.”
Samoa News contacted Ufuti via mobile phone and asked him if he was currently working for the government, and he confirmed to Samoa News that he will be heading into the office today.
Ufuti declined to tell Samoa News exactly where he is working and we have been unable to confirm what duties Ufuti will be performing to earn the $34,093.60 remaining on his contract.