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Misuse of ASG vehicles once again the focus of Governor’s ire

Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga
Directs police to arrest illegal driver of any ASG vehicle, impound vehicle…

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has directed police to take into custody the driver of any ASG vehicle, who is not supposed to be operating that vehicle;  and the ASG Road Marshal has been instructed to canvas church locations on Sundays to identify the misuse of ASG vehicles being illegally used going to and from church.

The governor made the public announcement at last Wednesday’s cabinet meeting at the American Samoa Community College campus, where Lolo once again told cabinet members, in particular executive branch directors, of current existing polices covering the use of ASG vehicles.

Just because “our administration has a few months left in office” — less than 4 months — doesn’t mean the administration is going to relax enforcement of long standing policies, such as restrictions of use of ASG cars, according to the governor.

Lolo said that he met early last week with Police Commissioner Le’i Sonny Thompson, who reported that many ASG vehicles on the road are in violation of the vehicle-use policy.

According to the governor, these vehicles are used by deputy directors, and other employees to go home. Lolo points to the Administration’s long-standing policy that deputy directors are not designated an ASG vehicle and are not allowed to take it home. “But this is still happening,” he said, noting that if a deputy director uses a vehicle during working hours, that vehicle remains at the office compound after work and is not to be taken home.

Through a memo issued late last month, the governor reminded his directors that deputy directors are prohibited from taking government vehicles home and the Police Commissioner is tasked with enforcement of this prohibition including repossessing all ASG vehicles not in compliance with this set policy.

“Many deputy directors are now going home in government vehicles and are being seen on the road at night conducting personal business,” Lolo said in his Aug 25th memo. (See Samoa News edition Aug. 27th for details.)

At last week’s cabinet meeting, Lolo said the Police Commissioner has been asked to direct police to take into custody a deputy director or unauthorized person observed using an ASG vehicle, violating current policy,   

“Everyone must comply with [ASG] policies,” the governor said and announced that he has also instructed ASG Road Marshals to canvas church locations on Sunday and identify ASG vehicles parked there and file a report with the Governor’s Office, which has received reports of people using ASG vehicles to go to church. He said such a practice is illegal under current policies.

He also advised his chief of staff, Fiu J. Saelua, to fully scrutinize requests from agencies seeking 24-hour passes for use of ASG vehicles. Lolo claims that too many passes are being issued.

And with political campaign events on the rise, as the Nov. 3rd general election nears, Lolo reminded cabinet members as well as all government employees not to use ASG assets — including vehicles — for any campaign purpose.

He said those involved in political campaigns must use their own vehicle to attend such events. He also said that the problem with the abuse and misuse of government vehicles stem from a director’s failure to properly monitor his/ her personnel.

Lolo reminded cabinet members of provisions under the federal Hatch Act, which prohibit the use of government assets for political purposes.

Details of the Hatch Act can be found on — — the website of the US Office of the Special Counsel, as well as websites of other federal agencies.