LAID OFF AM. SAMOA HOMELAND SECURITY WORKERS VOLUNTEER

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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa, (Samoa News, March 26) - Several TEMCO and TOHS employees that were laid off last week are now working as volunteers at their agencies.

Mike Sala, acting director for the local Department of Homeland Security said these employees, including former TEMCO's deputy director Evelyn Stevens are "volunteering" their time to help reconcile financial records and resolve grant activity reports that are needed by federal grantors and U.S. government officials.

"We need to have continuity in some of the these federally funded programs and records need to be updated," said Sala. "Some laid off employees have offered to volunteer their time to help get the information needed."

Other records needed, which required the help of these employees, are documents being subpoenaed by the federal court in Washington and those documents were to be turned over yesterday to the local FBI office for transport to the mainland.

Sala said he is currently reviewing OTICIDE's FY 2007 budget to determine if there is any available funds, or savings, that can be used to pay some of the urgently needed personnel to staff TEMCO/TOHS offices "on a part-time basis - a few hours a day, but not full time."

If there is savings, Sala said he needs to discuss this matter first with the Budget Office, Treasury Department, and Human Resources before making a decision on who should be brought in as part-time workers. OTICIDE is funded with local revenues and federal grants.

Stevens, who oversees the Pre-Disaster Mitigation grant program, returned Sunday after attending an off-island conference. At a hearing conducted by the Senate Select Investigation Committee earlier this month, two TEMCO officials blamed Stevens for problems with one of the grants awarded to the agency.

Stevens was off island at the time so she was unable to testify at that hearing, but she will get her chance to tell lawmakers her side of the story at an SSIC hearing scheduled for next Wednesday.

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