Report gives ways to resolve DOE’s high risk status

The U.S. Department of Education is calling for a “strong commitment and collaboration” within the American Samoa Government to accomplish goals and resolve issues in the ‘high risk’ Corrective Action Plan (CAP).

 

USDOE’s call was part of a report to last month’s federal Interagency Group on Insular Areas meeting, where the federal report shows that ASG has yet to expend more than $25 million in federal education funds for the last three fiscal years.

 

In the report, USDOE pointed out that ASG and ASDOE have focused their resources to address and resolve the action items listed on their CAP, which was developed in response to “numerous material weaknesses and noncompliance findings” reported in single audit reports and ASG’s designation as a high-risk grantee by USDOE.

 

It acknowledged that Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has created a High Risk Task Force “to promote a renewed sense of urgency and facilitate collaboration amongst the ASG departments and agencies in addressing their CAP items and correct materials weaknesses and significant deficiencies in a timely manner”.

 

USDOE also says it was able to validate during its August 2013 site visit that ASG has in fact completed the implementation of all phases of a Longitudinal Data System (LDS), ASDOE Chancery Student Management System (SMS), and ParentConnect Integrated Data System throughout the entire school system with the capability to administer and maintain student data using one central system instead of having separate databases.

 

ASG has also provided training to Chancery SMS users and has promoted public awareness for parents and community members, it says.

 

According to USDOE, ASG continues to address the remaining critical challenges — involved in the high risk status — in the areas of procurement, internal controls, development and implementation of written policies and procedures for various business processes, and timely completion of expansion and upgrading and full implementation of ‘IFAS’ computer system without further delays.

 

However, “ASG could become effective in managing USDOE funds and accomplishing programs in accordance with laws, regulations, and terms and conditions of the grants through establishing and maintaining credible financial and data management systems and implementing effective internal controls,” the report says.

 

“A strong commitment and collaboration amongst various offices of the ASG is essential in accomplishing these goals and resolving all CAP items,” it says.

 

The governor’s office in a news release on Feb. 6 says the task force received on Jan. 31st this year, a formal response from USDOE to the task force’s Oct. 31, 2013 submission updating the CAP, which took effect Sept. 30 last year. It says that of the 20 findings under review, five were closed by the USDOE team, progress was noted on seven other findings, while one new finding was added. (See Feb. 7 edition for more details.)

 

FUNDING STATUS

 

In its report submitted to the IGIA, USDOE also provided data on funding between fiscal year 2011 and 2013, and it shows that more than $25 million has yet to be expended by ASG.

 

For example, in 2013, the territory was obligated $24.05 million with the largest grant of $17.16 million under Consolidated Grant to the Outlying Areas followed by $6.29 million for Special Education Grants to States. However, the report shows there remains a balance of $19.16 million with $15.03 million remaining under the Consolidated Grant.

 

For FY 2012, a total of $24.16 million was obligated to American Samoa and again the largest grant amount is under Consolidated Grant with $15.01 million, and so far, a balance of $3.06 million remains to be expended.

 

American Samoa did very well in expending its obligated funds of $23.18 million for FY 2011 — which includes $16.30 million under the Consolidated Grant that no longer has a balance. The only available balance for the territory left is $10,752 from the Special Grants to Infants & Families with Disabilities, whose total obligated funded for the fiscal year was $582,117.

 

The Consolidated Grant is the largest annual ASDOE funding which, according to USDOE, can be used for professional development for teachers and administrators to improve teaching and learning, activities to reduce class size, acquisition of supplemental instructional materials and technology for classrooms and libraries, after-school programs for at-risk students, and parent outreach services to promote educational success.

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