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Gov names candidate to fill long vacant post of Territorial Auditor

Gov. Lemanu P.S. Mauga
New nominee possesses credentials required by local law

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A former auditor of the ASG’s Territorial Audit Office, Micheal A. Edmonds, has been appointed by Gov. Lemanu P. S. Mauga to fill the long-vacant post of Territorial Auditor, who also oversees this independent government agency.

The governor’s nomination of Edmonds — who is a U.S Certified Internal Auditor — was submitted this week to the Fono for confirmation. And his nomination will be officially introduced soon in both chambers.

Local law — ASCA 4.0403 — states that the governor appoints the Territorial Auditor, subject to Fono confirmation, for a term of 4 years. Among the qualifications for a Territorial Auditor is that the person shall be a certified public accountant (CPA) or a certified internal auditor holding a current certificate from any US state.

While the CPA requirement has been part of the law for decades, the certified internal auditor provision was added a few years ago as the government was having difficulty securing a CPA to be the Territorial Auditor in past years, according to Samoa News archive stories.

The last Territorial Auditor was Robert Dantini, a certified public accountant from Washington State, who resigned in December 2012 during the final days of the Togiola Administration.

In his nomination letter, the governor informed Fono leaders that Edmonds is a Certified Internal Auditor who has more than 30-years of auditing experience.

According to the governor, Edmonds — who worked as a Contract Performance Auditor in the territory from May 2012 to June 2013 — has worked as an auditor for municipalities in California such as Sacramento, San Jose, Concord, and Oakland.

Lemanu said that Edmonds’ “certification and experience” reflected in his resume “demonstrate he has the qualification” required under A.S.C.A 4.0403 to serve as Territorial Auditor.

An ASG official told Samoa News this week that Edmonds was recruited early this year for the post of Territorial Auditor. And Samoa News notes that a May 16 cover letter to the governor following TAO’s Performance Audit report for the ASG Medicaid Office has Edmonds signing off on the document as Chief Auditor, along with acting Territorial Auditor Morina Jo Fa’asisila — who was appointed to the post early this year after the previous acting Territorial Auditor resigned.

Previous Administrations have tried to fill the post of Territorial Auditor without success, due to provision of the law requiring a U.S certified CPA or certified internal auditor to hold the post.

The Lemanu Administration had twice introduced legislation removing the CPA and certified internal auditor requirement for the Territorial Auditor post but was strongly opposed by the Senate.

Senators at the time said the Administration’s proposal “lowers the bar” for this important post, and downgrades the qualifications for the person who holds the post.