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Admin cabinet salaries are compared to past cabinets

joy@samoanews.com

With some faipule asking questions about the Lolo Administration’s directors’ pay during ongoing budget hearings, and basically being told cabinet salaries are set by the governor and are not within the domain of lawmakers review, Samoa News has asked the governor’s office for a clarification, in the spirit of transparency and accountability.
 
Years of experience in a leadership position, priorities of the administration, direct experience of the director in the field, and educational credentials with the intellectual capacity to absorb and understand new concepts or quickly master the legal mandate of the agency are among the reasons the new administration hiked the salaries for some of its cabinet members.
 
This was the explanation from the Governor's Executive Assistant, Iulogologo Joseph Pereira in response to Samoa News’ queries on the increase in salaries, one of which is noted with a $12,000 hike. Iu told Samoa News these directors possess the capacity to “hit the ground running” with minimal need for on-the-job training. 
 
In a list prepared by the Fono, cabinet salaries are compared to those in the previous administration showing some moderate to large increases, others getting less, while others are receiving the same as their predecessors. 
 
Iu, in his response, told Samoa News the current administration has established lofty priorities it wishes to accomplish to improve the quality of life for our people, and these priorities have been clearly articulated by the governor and lieutenant governor through the governor’s first State of the Territory address back in January, and the actions of the administration to date have been guided by those directives.
 
He further noted that all the directorship positions were advertised with the resulting selection emanating from this process. 
 
“The governor and lieutenant governor wanted to attract the most qualified to make up their cabinet. The governor and lieutenant governor were blind to race or nationality of the applicants but focused exclusively on the applicant’s credentials and experiences."
 
Iu continued, “Directorship positions have finite life spans. It would be so unfair to cripple the ability of the governor and lieutenant governor to attract experienced leaders to help them advance their priorities aimed exclusively to improve the lives of our people.” 
 
The Governor's Executive Assistant pointed out that all directors are on two-year contracts and they are given deliverables to achieve, they work 24/7 and they are obligated to report when called in. Also, all are political appointees so tenure is limited to a total of four years, hence no future; and they don’t qualify for any overtime or compensatory pay nor allowed payoffs at the end of the contract.
 
Large payoffs to most of directors, as well as the former governor and lt. governor at the end of the last administration, were the subject of public outcry at the beginning of the Lolo Administration, and the subject of a Senate hearing this year, which was reported by Samoa News in March. 
 
At the time, former Chief Election Officer Soliai Tuipine Fuimaono was identified as the person who received the largest payoff, claiming 1,096 hours of compensatory time, or comp-time with a net $50, 552 paid. Payoffs to other directors, contract workers, governor and lt. governor included accrued annual and sick leave time.
 
In total, payoffs of $1.04 million were made, with more than $500,000 not budgeted in FY 2013, contributing to the government’s projected overrun of its current budget. The focus of the Senate hearing included a review of the legality of the payoffs especially to political appointees, and in some cases career employees.
 
THE FONO COMPARISON LIST
 
The highest increases noted are for the Arts Council Director who, in the previous administration earned $48,000, while the current director is making $60,000; and in the Territorial Energy Office, the previous director made $46,000 while the current director is making $58,000 — both are $12,000 increases. 
 
The second highest salary increase is the Public Defender, who is now making $65,000 an increase of $9,600 from $55,400. 
 
The third highest goes to the Commissioner of Public Safety who is now earning $73,000, while the previous Commissioner took home $65,000 — an increase of $8,000.
 
Fourth in line is the Territorial Librarian position which paid $52,226 in the previous administration,  and is now increased by $7,774 and listed at $60,000
 
The Agriculture Director is also getting a salary increase of $7,000 up to $62,000 from the $55,000 paid to the former director.  
 
Directorship positions for Public Health, Port Administration, and Public Works were each making $65,000 but a boost of $3,000 ups each of their salaries to $68,000.
 
The previous director for the Office of Public Information (KVZK-TV) was making $55,000 but an increase of $3,000 gives the new director an annual salary of $58,000. 
 
Marine and Wildlife Resources director and the head of the Property Management Office were among those who received an increase of $5,000 and both are now making $55,000. 
 
Director for the AS Visitors Bureau used to get a $77,500 salary but that has since been increased to $80,000 — an increase of $2,500.
 
The Attorney General position saw an increase of $500 bringing the annual pay to $73,000. 
 
Lowering of salaries was also noted in the Fono list.
 
With the head of the ASEPA earning $8,000 less than his predecessor — $63,000 to $55,000, while the director of Criminal Justice now gets $7,000 less — $65,000 to $58,000.
 
Noted also are the salaries of the directors of the Office of Procurement, the Department of Human and Social Services, and Human Resources, who all are receiving $5,000 less.
 
The CPO now makes $58,000 while DHSS and DHR directors are are taking home $65,000. 
 
Other directors whose salaries are now less by  $3,000, include the Budget Office at $62,000; Vocational Rehabilitation at $65,000 and Parks and Recreation now at $60,000. 
 
There were some directors who continue to earn the same amount as their predecessor: Director of Youth & Women's Affairs ($60,000), Historic Preservation Officer ($50,000), Treasurer ($70,000), DOE ($70,000), Secretary of Samoan Affairs ($60,000), Director of Commerce ($65,0000) Territorial Auditor ($100,000), Internal Audit Officer ($50,000), Territorial Administration on Aging- TAOA ($60,000), Election Officer ($65,000) and the Administrative Law Justice ($73,000).
 
BACKGROUND
 
Samoa News should point out since the TEO director-appointee was rejected by the Fono last week, a new position of Administrator was "established within the TEO providing administrative and management oversight over the day to day operation of the agency until a director is appointed,” according to a letter Governor Lolo M. Moliga wrote to the director of Human Resources. 
 
The governor said Jones would report directly to the governor on all administrative and management issues of the agency. According to the letter, HR is directed to prepare the documents facilitating the establishment of this position. A copy of Jones’ contract was also sent to the HR director. 
 
For now and until a new director is appointed, Lolo wrote, funds earmarked to defray the salary of the director would be utilized to defray costs for this new position.
 
Of interest, is the recent call by some senators and faipule to increase the salary of the Secretary of Samoan Affairs, also known as the Office of the Local Government. His was one of the salaries that remained the same — at $60,000.
 
Samoa News notes this position is not under a 2-year contract, was a direct appointment by the governor (applications were not accepted for the position) and by statute is not subject to Fono confirmation. Further, in Fono discussion, the amount of the Secretary’s salary seemed to be viewed as a matter of ‘rank’ and not qualification and experience.
 



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