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Cabinet told to follow the law with regards to hiring

[SN file photo]
Lolo says the process is DHR's responsibility

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has directed his cabinet to “cease the practice of preselecting employees” to fill vacant positions in Executive Branch departments and agencies, and they must follow local law, meaning going through the Department of Human Resources (DHR).

The governor’s directive comes amid new allegations that there have been new hires in the Executive Branch at the start of FY 2018 — which began Oct. 1, 2017 — with similar allegations that it’s “who you know” in government, that will “get you a government job.”

In an Oct. 24th memorandum titled, “Recruitment and Hiring Policy”, Lolo reminded Executive Branch directors that DHR is “legally mandated to develop and manage” the American Samoa Government’s human resources — pursuant to local laws.

“Inherent in these responsibilities is the recruitment and hiring of all government employees,” the governor wrote, adding that the law specifically states that any ASG agency wishing to hire someone to fill a vacant or new position “must transmit the request” to DHR.

The said position must be advertised with all applications received and directed to DHR for processing. The director of the requesting agency will make the final decision on the person to hire from five finalists provided by DHR.

Lolo reminded his directors that ASG “is an equal employment entity and advertising the position manifests our commitment in advancing this policy.”

“It is also a prerequisite for our Career Service Program,” he continued, noting that these “tenets are incorporated in our personnel rules and regulations” managing the recruitment and hiring of personnel for ASG.

According to the governor, the prevailing personnel rules and regulations preclude extension of any authority to any director, except for the DHR director, to recruit and hire government employees.

“Accordingly, please cease the practice of preselecting employees to fill your vacant position(s) and then send them to the Department of Human Resources to rubber-stamp,” the governor wrote. “Your authority lies with making the final decision on the person to hire based on the applicants transmitted to you for review and approval by Human Resources.”

Lolo pointed out that it is the mandated responsibility of DHR to “ensure that the recruitment and hiring rules and regulations receive full compliance.”

Samoa News learned yesterday from ASG officials that the governor’s directive is a result of “agencies now sending their list of vacancies and the names of individuals to fill the positions” to DHR without advertising the positions to comply with ASG Equal Employment Opportunity Employer and the prevailing personnel rules and regulations contained in Title 7 of the American Samoa Code Annotated- local law.

The officials declined to identify the agencies that aren’t following personnel rules and regulations, as they were only providing background information on the reason behind the governor’s directive.

Two other ASG officials noted that in past cabinet meetings, Lolo had emphasized to directors ASG’s hiring and recruitment policy, which must be followed in accordance to local law, and DHR “must be involved in the recruitment process”.

Samoa News points out that there have been many public complaints regarding people being hired for government jobs that were never advertised.