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Lolo admin warned to heed all grant provisions

Sen. Galeai Tu’ufuli is urging Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga's administration to fully adhere to provisions for spending of federal grants because failure to do so will result in the territorial government having to make reimbursements to the grantor.


Galeai made the public call during a Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing last Thursday where the governor’s $5 million supplemental appropriations bill was discussed.


Among appropriations in the bill is $52,000 to reimburse disallowed grant expenditures for the Vocational Rehabilitation Office and $36,000 for reimbursement of disallowed spending under the AmeriCorps program.


Both programs are funded by federal grants and when questioned by Galeai about these two expenditures that will be funded with local revenue, ASG Treasurer Dr. Falema’o ‘Phil’ M. Pili says the funding request is necessary to pay the disallowed expenses.


(There were no follow up questions as to what the disallowed expenses were that ASG has to reimburse for the two programs.)


Galeai said these types of reimbursements should be a lesson learned for the new administration as these problems occurred during the past administration. He says the new government should fully adhere to provisions of how federal grants are spent because failure to do so, means local revenue - which is already stretched thin - will have to be used to pay back the grantor.


He said these problems will then end up coming to the Fono for approval, due to carelessness of ensuring full compliance.


The Vocational Rehabilitation Office is under the jurisdiction of the Governor’s Office but details of the reimbursement remains unclear.


For AmeriCorps, this reimbursement first surfaced in January this year when Lolo wrote to Washington D.C. based Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS), the federal grantor for AmeriCorps, for additional information on the reimbursement.


Lolo also noted that his new administration plans to pay the reimbursement after reading a 2011 audit report, which outlines problems in the administration of AmeriCorps grants.


American Samoa Special Service Commission (ASSSC) was the ASG entity charged with AmeriCorps programs in the territory and due to problems found by the audit, funding for ASSSC was terminated while its executive director was charged at the federal court in Washington D.C. and is currently serving time in federal prison.