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HR director gets pushback on halting pre-selection of job applicants

Lynn Pulou-Alaimalo
However, some ASG workers call pre-selection “unfair”

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Through an Oct. 12th memorandum to ASG directors, Human Resources director Lynn Pulou-Alaimalo put a halt on all pre-selections of applicants/candidates for the recruiting process, saying that this “practice is a violation of merit principles” under local regulations.

“We encourage all departments/agencies to assist in ensuring that the integrity of the ASG recruitment and placement processes are adhered to. As such, there will be no exception to pre-selection,” she wrote in the memo, which is also addressed to the Judicial and Legislative branches.

Samoa News wasn’t able to immediately obtain information or comments on why Pulou-Alaimalo’s directive included the Judicial and Legislative branches and if her memo would influence personnel decisions by the other two branches of government.

In the Fono it’s common knowledge that the Senate President and House Speaker have jurisdiction over the recruitment of legislative personnel. And how the Fono leaders would react to being included in this directive remains unknown at press time.

“Effective immediately, the Department of Human Resources will no longer accept any pre-selections from any department/agency. This practice must be stopped,” Pulou-Alaimalo wrote in the memo and pointed out that this “practice is in violation of merit principles” as set forth in the ASG regulations - A.S.A.C 4.0305.

She noted that all applications form the DHR File Registry, as well as applications submitted during the job-posting period, will be used to fill vacancies.

If a department or agency has any pending actions with DHR including those that were pre-selected, “we will consider these applications in the screening, but will undergo fair screening across the board and will be reviewed based on the requirements and classification of the vacant position for all candidates,” Pulou-Alaimalo said.

In conclusion, she said DHR looks forward to working together with each director and assist in their personnel needs.

But some senior Executive Branch officials — including long-time ASG personnel — say the DHR director’s directive will impede on the immediate need of individual departments to recruit workers, including professionals, to handle the mounting workload in government service.

“To move forward a lot of projects and other urgent workload in government service, there should be flexibility given to individual directors to pre-select candidates for positions, so they could be filled,” according to two ASG senior officials who asked to remain anonymous.

A cabinet member, who only responded to the Samoa News query for reaction if not identified by name, said yesterday morning that there are positions that need to be filled right away due to the urgent need, and “good candidates” were identified, but were “turned down by HR”.

However, there are also supporters in the government workforce of Pulou-Alaimalo’s directive, telling Samoa News that this is a “just and fair” process.

One longtime ASG worker says that this same practice has been seen in previous administrations and it was “unfair” to other applicants for a director to pre-select the person to get the job instead of giving everyone the chance to complete for the position.

(Samoa News should point out that not mentioned by anyone is the possible ‘pre-selection’ of an unqualified individual that has sometimes been the ‘talk’ of this type of job application.)