Chief of Staff explains $80,000 worth of per diems for Gov’s trip
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Governor’s Chief of Staff, Loa Tauapai Laupola is defending the $10,000 each per diems for their delegation that are accompanying Governor Lemanu P. S Mauga on his several meetings in Hawaii, North Carolina and Washington D.C. The per diems add up to the tune of $80,000.
The governor left two weeks ago with eight members of his staff, including Loa and other support staff from the governor’s office.
“The Department of Treasury follows per diem rates established by the United States General Services Administration.
“All per diems are calculated according to the duration as well as the locale (accounting for lodging, meals, transportation, and incidentals),” explained Loa in response to Samoa News questions.
He said the stipends in question were no exception; they were set to cover the series of meetings the delegation would have in Hawaii, North Carolina & D.C. from January to February.
“Thus far the delegation has met with various individuals to initiate opportunities and continue discussions for the betterment of our Samoan youth and community at large.
“Some of these meetings included discussions with Seiuli Jesse Sapolu for youth athletic opportunities, fellowship with students of the University of Hawaii (Hilo & Manoa) and Chaminade, meetings with President Lassner of UH-Manoa as well as discussions with East-West Center President Vares-Lum.
“Meetings with representatives of NTIA & FCC for broadband funds have also taken place.
“While meetings with the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and courtesy visits with Hawaii State Governor, Honorable Josh Green & Honolulu Mayor Honorable Rick Blangiardi are forthcoming.
“Next week the delegation has planned a site visit for two tugboats that are being prepared for shipment to American Samoa.
“Fellowships with Samoan service members and their families stationed in Honolulu & Ft. Bragg, NC are also set to occur.
“Some of the highlights in D.C. include the National Governors Association meeting, discussions with the White House Interagency Group for Insular Areas, and meetings with the CEO of Starkist.
“The Governor also plans to attend a church service in D.C. and fellowship with Samoan service members living in the area.”
Asked whether it was necessary to have the governor’s secretary and supporting staff, Loa said it was essential that his staff be part of the delegation. He also made it clear that no directors are a part of this trip.
“The delegation that traveled with the Governor on January 10 did not include Directors.
“There were a total of 8 staff traveling with the Governor from American Samoa (these individuals serve purposes related to security, personnel and administrative needs).
“Others that will be joining the Governor in D.C. have critical missions related to their departments that require their presence.
“However, the Governor's personal traveling entourage only includes 8 of his staff,” he said.