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SSIC continues TALOFAPass contract and DataHouse probe

Chief Procurement Officer Ti'alemasunu Dr. Etuale Mikaele

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Government has filed a motion to quash in part and comply in part with the Senate Select Investigative Committee’s (SSIC) ‘Subpoena Duces Tecum’  in regards to the TALOFAPass contract to the DataHouse Consulting Inc.

(A subpoena Duces Tecum is an order that requires a witness to bring documents, books or other items under his, her or their control, that he she or they is bound by law to produce into evidence.)

The SSIC hearing was scheduled yesterday for the Chief Procurement Officer Ti'alemasunu Dr. Etuale Mikaele to testify on the procurement process regarding the awarding of the $6.35 million three-year contract for the TALOFAPass contract to the DataHouse Consulting Inc.

During the hearing yesterday, Senator Magalei Logovii the Vice Chairman of the SSIC said they had received the government’s motion to quash the subpoena for the CPO, saying the SSIC’s legal counsel Mitzie Jessop Taase has to file a response, before they can proceed.

During the CPO’s first appearance before the SSIC, a full report on the TALOFAPass procurement process was submitted to the Deputy Attorney General Roy Hall to review whether there is privileged information that is not for public knowledge.

The Senate’s Legal Counsel confirmed with Samoa News a scheduled hearing on ASG’s motion to quash on November 21, at 11:a.m. after the Senate session. 

In the meantime, a lawsuit has been filed in court by Klaod Solutions, a local company owned by Kenn and Luisa Kuaea against the ASG Office of Procurement in relation to the ASG websystem, TALOFAPass contract awarded on August 19, 2021.

The complaint for declaratory judgment was filed last month by the Kueaus through their lawyer Thomas B. Jones and Associates.

According to the plaintiff’s information and belief, it suggests that DataHouse Consulting was the presumptive contract awardee prior to the public announcement of the request for proposal, a situation that violated numerous procurement laws.

This conclusion is based on several factors and the plaintiff alleges the Safe Travel System Talofa Pass website went live prior to the announcement of the award, clearly demonstrating that DataHouse constructed the website prior to the award of the contract; it thus follows that DataHouse had advanced knowledge not only of the RFP, but that they would be awarded the contract.

Klaod Solutions accordingly says it has substantial reason to believe that DataHouse was pre-selected as the awardee of the multi-million dollar STS contract and that its receipt of the contract violated American Samoa procurement laws.