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Gov’t vehicle use policies, include vehicles bought with grant money

Get rid of tint on ASG vehicle windows by Feb. 28, 2017, or vehicles impounded

As the Lolo and Lemanu Administration begins its second four-year term at the helm of government, Gov. Lolo Matalasi has moved to get the total count of all government vehicles, while the vehicle policy in the past four years has been maintained with directors given until next month to remove tints from all ASG vehicles.

In a Jan. 27 memo to his cabinet members, Lolo says it’s necessary to get an updated count of all government vehicles including those in private auto repair shops around the island. He says some vehicles are parked at the Office of Motor Vehicle (OMV) and are no longer operating.

Lolo says the continued listing of these vehicles, which are inoperable in the inventory of government assets, skews the true value of these assets and compromises the integrity of ASG’s financial statement.

Accordingly, the governor has requested cabinet directors to submit on or before Jan. 31 the list of all vehicles, irrespective of their operating condition, which are under the purview of each executive branch agency.

“The matrix facilitating the preparation of your inventory list should” include the model, make, year, date of purchase, operating status, i.e. still in use/no longer usable — location of vehicles — at the office compound, private repair shop, at OMV or another location, and recommended action, the governor wrote.

“Our vehicle use policies have reaffirmed and the director is held accountable for any violation of the declared policies,” Lolo concluded.

At last Friday morning’s cabinet meeting, cabinet members were reminded of the ASG vehicle use policies and were also given copies the Jan. 25, 2017 general memorandum from the governor reaffirming Cost Containment Measure policies, adopted from the January 2013 with some amendments.

The seven-page cost containment measures document includes the use of vehicles policies, which notes that all ASG “vehicle windows will be clear and void of any tinting.”

Directors are responsible to have all window tints on all vehicles in their agency, removed by Feb. 28, after which the ASG road marshals will be instructed to impound those vehicles not in compliance with this policy.

Also reaffirmed in the document is the ‘After Hours Vehicle Pass Request” which has been in place since July 19, 2013. And that is the request for use of ASG vehicles after hours is to be made 48 hours before the vehicle is needed.

During Friday’s cabinet meeting, the Governor’s chief of staff Fiu J. Saelua reminded cabinet members that the cost containment measures include the use of ASG vehicles. He said that with the help of the new acting Police Commissioner, the road marshals and the Governor’s Office “we’ll certainly enforce those policies, especially the after-hours pass.”

He said some departments and agencies have argued that the car was bought with grant money, and is not subject to these policies. Fiu reminded the meeting that the governor has authority over the government and that even though vehicles were bought with grant money, the car is on the road in American Samoa.

Fiu said tinting of vehicle windows is another “issue we had problems” with in the past and “we are going to give you until Feb. 28” to remove the tint. He said that there has been problems and calls to the Governor’s Office about people who are not supposed to be driving ASG vehicles and people who are not supposed to be riding in ASG vehicles.

However, police officers and road marshals cannot see inside of the vehicle because of the tint, said Fiu, who asked cabinet members to tint their own private cars, but not ASG vehicles.

See Samoa News edition this week for other issues from the cabinet meeting.