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$1 million in “political appointee payments” will begin in new FY

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Sialega Mauga
Transition team appointed as Lolo-Lemanu admin nears its end

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has named his administration’s transition team, which will provide, among other things, a comprehensive government report to the new incoming administration, as well as to the federal government.

Lolo made public his transition team during a cabinet meeting this week Wednesday at the Pago Pago International Airport conference room, where he announced plans to start paying out later next month sick and annual leave for executive branch directors — who are political appointees.

The cabinet meeting agenda named the governor’s transition team, chaired by ASG Treasurer Ueligitone Tonumaipe’a, and co-chaired by Human Resources director Eseneiaso  Liu.

Members are: Education director Dr. Ruth Matagi-Tofiga; Budget Office director Catherine A. Saelua; Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele; Public Works director Faleosina Voigt; acting chief procurement officer Taumavave T. Laupola; Homeland Security director Alfonso Pete Galea’i; and American Samoa Community College president Dr. Rosevonne Pato. Transition team coordinator is Iulogologo Joseph Pereira, who is also the governor’s executive director.

The governor instructed Tonumaipe’a to put together a budget for the transition team. Lolo explained the reason that he and Lemanu are naming a transition team, is so that “we can compile the report” to be handed over to the new incoming governor, showing a good government would be handed over to the new administration with which to continue.

Lolo said all cabinet members, who are government leaders, are all part of the transition team but the identified cabinet directors in the team are charged with compiling the transition report to be presented, not only to the new administration, but the federal government through the US Department of Interior.

During a cabinet meeting last week (there were two cabinet meetings within 7-days) the governor’s chief of staff, Fiu J. Saelua told cabinet members that their transition report should be submitted to the Governor’s Office by Oct 23rd.

In his address to the Fono early this year, the governor said he had instructed cabinet members “to engage in the process of identifying and documenting operational weaknesses and challenges, detail documentation of the agency’s status in terms of finances, human resources, inventories, physical assets, and vehicles.”

Lolo said this report will give the new leaders an instant and complete view of the status of the American Samoa Government and its respective component units, so they would not waste valuable time deciphering and determining the status of the government but instead, focus on the business of serving our people.

In a previous cabinet meeting, Lolo said he was looking to meet with the new governor and lieutenant governor  — who will be sworn into office before 12noon on Jan. 3, 2021 — either in late November or early December.  


Also at this week’s cabinet meeting, the governor said Human Resources has provided the annual and sick leave for executive branch directors and “we can start paying” them after Oct. 15th.

ASG’s budget for the new fiscal year 2021 — which begins Oct. 1, 2020 — includes $1 million for “political appointee payments” under the Governor’s Special Programs. Lolo said this funding will “help defray the separating payout costs for leave and other benefits.”


Lolo reminded cabinet members that the Adopt-A-School program is still ongoing and for them to respond to requests from school principals who need assistance.

Cabinet directors were also reminded by the governor the program includes private schools and ASG agencies have already been designated private schools and to do good work. He says students attending private schools are “our children” and their parents pay taxes to the government.

The governor acknowledged several deputy directors attending the meeting, which he says allows them to be more familiar with operation of the government, as the current administration transitions out and they are at the helm, for the new incoming government.

Port Administration director Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele also acknowledged the presence of deputies, saying that deputies play a vital role in a department’s operations working closely with directors. She says deputies are the ones that ensure the work is carried out.

She said her two deputies have been trained for some time now to take over when she exits her post at the end of the year. “I keep telling them, ‘it’s your turn to take on the job, now it’s my time to just coach you, and to continue to guide the work that you’ve been doing since I came in,” Taimalelagi said of her two deputies.