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Pat Galea'i, former ASESRO head demands back pay

Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga has stopped a move by Department of Commerce in the matter of paying Pat Galea'i, the former Director of the American Samoa Economic Stimulus and Recovery Office (ASESRO) from the Industrial Park funding, which is under DOC.


 According to the governor, Treasurer Falema’o Pili was doing Galea’i a favor by referring him to work for DOC; yet when the DOC Director, Keniseli Lafaele went through his budget, he found nothing budgeted to pay Galea'i.


Instead, Samoa News understands Galea’i was being paid from the Industrial Funding, a fund used for the development and care of the Industrial Park; we asked the governor about the reason for it being used to pay Galea’i.


The Governor noted that this was the main reason Keniseli moved to discontinue paying Galea’I from that funding.


During a press conference last week, the governor said that the Fono had not approved the budget for either ASESRO or the IT office, and this not only affected Galea’i but the other government employees from these departments as well. Asked if Galea’i was still overseeing the ASG Federal Grants Office, the governor did not respond.


Queries sent to the DOC director were referred to the Human Resources Director, Le’i Sonny Thompson who responded on the employment status of Galea’i.


“As the governor mentioned on numerous occasions, this administration is transparent in all its obligations and decisions. Obviously the nature of this case relative to Mr. Galea’i’s  employment is an HR matter, and he’s currently an employee under the Department of Commerce. He was and is budgeted under the Department of Commerce, before he was detailed to the office of ASESRO by the previous governor.


“When his office was terminated by Governor Lolo’s Executive Order, he should’ve been reverted back to his previous status and employed under DOC,” said Le’i.


Last week, Galea’i sent a letter to Chief of Staff Fiu Johhny Saelua, Department of Treasury, informing them of his compensation for pay period ending February 2, 2013. Samoa News obtained a copy of this letter.


“Since my time cards for the above pay-period have been misplaced (which is understanding owing to the nearly three-month delay) this is to certify that the American Samoa Government owes me 80 hours of pay for the time I put in as a career service employee during said pay period.”


Galea’i wrote, “Kindly prepare my regular bi-weekly compensation of $2,227.46 prior to deductions.” He also noted that “as to my compensation for the subsequent pay-period to the present, I sayeth naught while it is still under review".


The HR Director noted the 80 hours which are owed to Galea’I from February — to his understanding — were for the job he was assigned with ASESRO prior to his office being terminated by executive order. The current DOC Director had approved those hours to be verified by the Treasurer and paid.


In January, the governor moved to relocate the ASESRO office to the Treasury Department. ASESRO, better known as the ASG Stimulus Office had been established to oversee and monitor all federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), or stimulus money.  Lolo’s order amended the 2009 order issued by then Gov. Togiola Tulafono establishing ASESRO, which was overseen by director Pat Galeai, who also headed the ASG Federal Grants Office.


While ASESRO is now part of the Treasury Department, the monitoring functions dealing with ARRA money have been assigned to the Territorial Office of Fiscal Reform and Clearing House functions have been taken over by the Governor’s Office staff, according to the Governor’s Office. 


The executive order states that the Treasurer is appointed the “permanent executive director” of ASESRO, which was previously under the purview of the Governor’s Office, and ASESRO is now an agency within the Treasury Department.