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Delayed direct deposit pay for ASTCA employees causes brouhaha

ASTCA board member Andra SamoaFalaovaoto Sualevai, ASTCA Acting Chief Executive Officer
Board member Samoa and acting CEO Sualevai exchange contentious emails

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA —  Some employees of the American Samoa Tele Communications Authority, who receive their pay through direct deposit have complained to several ASTCA’s board members about the delay in receiving their pay causing “unnecessary burden on their plans, especially when it is graduation season,” according to a copy of an email sent by Andra Samoa, an ASTCA board member to Falaovaoto Sualevai, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the agency.

Samoa News has obtained copies of four emails sent between Samoa and Sualevai, with three sent on the same day, Saturday June 23, 2018 and the last sent early morning Sunday, June 24, 2018.

The emails of both women include cc’s to all board members —  Iuli Alex Godinet, Omar Shalhout, Taiulaga Aseuga, and Alofagia Nomura — as well as “”, which means that all ASTCA staff were included in the emails.

In her first email, Samoa asks Sualevai about the direct deposit delay, asking, “Is this true? Has this occurred before? What are your plans to present this from happening again? When did you find out about this?”

Samoa asks that Sualevai “please advise and direct your explanation to the Board.”

Sualevai’s email response to Samoa includes a copy of the email she sent to Management staff about the delay, adding that, “I am getting very confuse[d] on my role as a CEO vs Board responsibilities.”

Email to Management staff dated June 22 is as follows:

“Due to technical issues, between our Bank of Hawaii and Netpay processing please expect delays in the payroll for this week, as normally employees receive their pay over the weekend. We are expecting it to clear by Tuesday, June 26.

“Managers please inform your staff ASAP.”

Samoa chooses to respond to Sualevai’s email — again on the same day, June 23 — in regard to her being confused on her role as “a CEO vs Board responsibilities.”

The board member points to Sualevai being told to familiarize herself with the Executive Order, which states “that the Board hires an Executive Director who shall be directly responsible to the Board…The board has a right to ensure that ‘proper and efficient management of ASTCA’ is followed.”

Samoa asks, “Is it efficient management of ASTCA that the employees do not get paid because of technical issues? What kind of technical issues when we are blessed with a broadband system?”

She further notes that “regardless if you were selected by the Governor as the Acting CEO and of course out of respect by the Board, had acquiesced, it does not take away from our fiduciary duty as Board members.” Samoa goes on to point out that ASTCA “is NOT Blue Sky (private)… nor like ASPA (created by law) — it is a public agency of the government and as such they have a fiduciary duty as Board members,“ and while she is still a Board member she will exercise her “full attention in protecting the integrity and mission of ASTCA … ensuring that the employees are proud of coming to work everyday…”

Samoa advises Sualevai’ to take the Board’s advice given to her in “good faith so that you do not continue the behavior that you claimed was practiced by the former CEO Pule, when according to your explanation, ‘Pule told us to let him handle the Board and we just take care of the operation’.”

Sualevai’s response to this email says, “I do not appreciate you copying the entire staff of ASTCA to this email. Please refrain from coping all of ASTCA staff. This is unprofessional.”

Samoa’s reply, on Sunday, June 24 at 5:52 AM to Sualevai follows:

“Fala Read the EO. The Board has every right to access anyone it so chooses considering issues that will impact the ASTCA organization and its employees. I will not comment about that word ‘unprofessional’. Also, you do not tell a Board member who you report directly to on what they know is critical in the name of transparency and accountability. Again, this is a public agency not a private corporation.”

Samoa News understands ASTCA direct deposits were made on Tuesday, June 26, 2018 as indicated in Sualevai’s email to ASTCA Management Staff.