Feds take up the case of mis-use of ASG vehicles
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has implemented a corrective action plan, following a US Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General (DOI-OIG) audit, which found that ASG Executive Branch government-owned and leased vehicles “did not have effective internal controls of the use of its vehicles.”
The 32-audit report, which includes a Sept. 28 letter from Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Kendall to US Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech, was publicly released last Tuesday.
DOI-OIG found, among other things, that ASG vehicle records were inaccurate and incomplete, and ASG had no comprehensive and government-wide policy to regulate and monitor the use of government-owned and leased vehicles. (See Samoa News Oct. 4 edition for details.)
In her letter, Kendall said DOI-OIG offered 13 recommendations to “address the deficiencies” in the ASG's policy and practices and help ASG improve its ability to ensure proper use of its government vehicle fleet.
It also provided results of the audit to the governor, who responded in August along with the ASG corrective action plan. Based on the governor’s response, Kendall told Domenech that DOI-OIG “considered all recommendations resolved but not implemented.”
Kendall recommended that DOI’s Office of Insular Affairs “monitor and track the ASG's efforts, including resolution and implementation of the recommendations in our audit report.”
DOI-OIG, in collaboration with the local Territorial Audit Office, conducted the audit from July 2017 to January 2018, sampling government vehicles based on the initial inventory, provided by the ASG Office Property Management, which consisted of 637 general-purpose vehicles. This included sedans, SUVs, and light-duty trucks used to transport people and cargo.
Excluded were specialty vehicles, such as fire trucks, school buses, and heavy-duty equipment. DOI-OIG conducted a physical inventory of the 519 vehicles from the 17 sampled departments.
Lolo, in his Aug. 14 response letter to Kendall, said the ASG takes “judicious note of the findings and recommendations”, and he submitted the corrective action plan.
Lolo said ASG “recognized with appreciation the significance” of the audit report, which he says has given ASG specific direction on the required actions that “must be adopted by all agencies of the American Samoa Government to make sure that government vehicles are fully documented along with processes to dispose of vehicles deemed to have exceeded their useful lives.”
“This effort will also improve the integrity of the American Samoa Government's financials,” he said, adding that ensuring implementation of the corrective action plan comes under his office.
Based on ASG’s responses, the audit report shows that ASG took corrective actions on each of the 13 recommendations between Aug 1 and Aug. 15.
DOI-OIG, in response to ASG action taken on each recommendation, said that while ASG reported that “actions were completed, it did not provide any supporting documentation to verify the actions taken.”
Details of the audit report, which include DOI-OIG recommendations and ASG’s corrective actions is found online at the DOI-OIG website <doioig.gov> posted Oct. 2nd, under the heading, “American Samoa Government Did Not Have Effective Internal Controls for Its Vehicles”.
The audit report comes amid more and more public complaints of alleged misuse of ASG vehicles during and after office hours and on the weekend, despite the governor’s continued call from the start of his administration for directors to keep a close watch on the use of ASG vehicles.
The audit raises an issue, which many had questioned in the last five years, if any action is ever taken against Executive Branch employees who don’t comply with vehicles use policy.
The Human Resources director issued an Aug. 6, 2013 a memorandum to enforce disciplinary action against employees who continue to violate policy, including termination.
However, the audit report says “ASG officials did not take formal disciplinary action against employees who violated policy and, on limited occasions, would issue a written reprimand against the employee.”