AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNMENT OWES U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE $123,661 FOLLOWING FOOD

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STAMP AUDIT

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (May 5, 1999 - Samoa News)---"The American Samoa Government will be responsible for reimbursing the [U.S. Department of Agriculture] for $123,661 due to undocumented as well as unrelated expenditures" of grant funds that were originally earmarked for Food Stamp Coupons.

This is one of the conclusions drawn by the Territorial Audit Office (TAO) after it completed an extensive audit of the Territory’s Food Stamp Program late last year.

The audit covered fiscal year 1998 (Oct. 1, 1997 to Sept. 30, 1998) at the request of Marie Ma‘o, the Director of the Department of Human and Social Services which oversees the American Samoa Nutrition Assistance Program (ASNAP), the official name of the Food Stamp Program.

The auditors drew this conclusion because "ASNAP management did not provide any documents to justify the significant increase of Food Stamp coupons redeemed over Food Stamp coupons issued during fiscal year 1998."

The reimbursable amount includes $80,758 that is the value of 2,872 Food Stamp books that were unaccounted for by the program’s local managers, according to the TAO’s final audit report which was released several weeks ago.

"We believe these unaccountable Food Stamp books could be more if records maintained and submitted by ASNAP for our review are reliable and accurate," wrote the auditors who were headed by Acting Territorial Auditor Francis Sefo.

"After repeated requests and time extensions, ASNAP management declined to provide a written response to this report," the auditors noted.

"While there is nothing in the American Samoa Code that mandates a response from an auditee, the territorial Audit Office finds this lack of response to such a serious problem as mentioned in this report to be very disappointing," they continued.

"Accordingly, the Territorial Audit Office [construes] the lack of response as an acceptance of our audit report findings," they added.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa’s daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to samoanews@samoatelco.com. For additional reports from the Samoa News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa News.

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