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EDITOR’S NOTE: A website comment that provides Food For Thought

“Lolo: ASG takes directions only from DOI — and no other agencies”
Comment from Charles V. Ala’ilima

So people can understand the situation, a little historical context needs to be provided.

Sometime I believe in the 1960s DOI set up what was called an Interagency Council that would coordinate the application of federal regulations and grants to American Samoa through the DOI.

If one recalls the sign-off of KVZK back in the day it referred to its authority to broadcast as being under the "authority of the Interagency Council in cooperation with the FCC".

DOI authority here was absolute and it sent its own Inspector General officials to review the federal grants, laws and regulations being applied down here.

Fast forward now to around 1982 - 1984 a few years after we had locally elected governors.

Interior IG officials who maintained an office in American Samoa were very frustrated that the local AG appointed by the elected governor was not prosecuting people for misuse of federal funds that were being found by the IG and failing to enforce the gambling laws. The Secretary made a move to terminate the local AG and appoint another one.

Congressman Fofo with the help of Governor Coleman slipped in an amendment to a bill going through congress that directed the DOI to not interfere with the local appointments of ASG officials under the DOI approved American Samoa constitution. Once that passed DOI closed up its local IG office and left.

Since then it appears to be DOI policy that while it would provide technical assistance to ASG, it would not assume any further responsibility to oversee the federal regulations and grants of any agency other than its own.

ASG then dealt on its own with the other federal agencies. Apparently this was just fine with ASG and it has involved itself directly with federal agencies seeking grants and has become involved directly in federal cases on federal issues involving the territory. (citizenship, fishing zones …).

However, now that FEMA, a federal agency, asks the ASG to honor building code commitments ASG made to secure federal disaster relief grants for the 2009 tsunami, the ASG position is that only DOI has federal authority over it so it does not have to honor those commitments it made.