Previous Am. Samoa Administration Incurred

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Most Overtime
Treasurer: majority of overtime pay can be covered

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, June 4, 2013) – More than $600,000 in overtime was incurred by the American Samoa Government (ASG) during the first six months of the current fiscal year, 2013, with a majority of it occurring during the previous administration, says ASG Treasurer Dr. Falema’o ‘Phil’ M. Pili in a memo included in the Treasury Department’s 100-days report submitted to the Governor’s Office.

Treasury’s analysis of overtime covers the period of Oct. 1, 2012 up to Apr. 8, 2013 with the total overtime at $616,519.61. Of the total overtime, $376,076.96 or 61% took place during the Togiola Administration and $240,442.65, or 39% is attributed to the current administration, said Pili.

For revenues collected during the same period (Oct. 1, 2012 and Apr. 8, 2013), Treasury says the Togiola Administration collected $286,699.01 (or 55%), versus $234,571.92 (or 45%) under the Lolo administration, with a total of $521,270.93 from reimbursable arrangements with vendors and airlines, in accordance with local laws.

Pili noted that the drop in revenue is the result of the "cutback" in overtime. (Lolo during the outset of his administration halted overtime and this message was reiterated in an Apr. 1 letter to government agencies.)

"Although at first glance these numbers seem to indicate excessive overtime activities, it is critical to note that there are reimbursable budgeted funds and budgeted grant revenues to cover the majority of the overtime expenses," said Pili.

He explained the two overtime funding sources — Local Revenues and Grant Revenues— are $480,421.23 and $136,098.38 respectively. Of these amounts, $521,270.93 has been reimbursed by either the vendors or the airlines, with $136,098.38 covered under the grants program.

That leaves overtime work directly funded by local funds at $97,383.14 of which $84,234.80 was incurred during the Togiola Administration and only $15,483.36 during the Lolo Administration, according to the Treasurer.

Pili said it appears that the governor's mandate limiting overtime is "progressing fairly well" with the exception of the Department and Education and Public Works. "This I believe can be easily corrected and improved in due time," he said.

He also says that the combined surplus of $138,229 from overtime billed — at the reported period of this review — by the departments/agencies in accordance with local law, contributes to the revenue make up of ASG.

Pili further points out that after a complete and thorough review, it is obvious that the overtime incurred by the departments/agencies who are guarding and securing territorial borders to safe keep the community, is paid for by the fees from the vendors and airlines, for whom "we are providing services for our national security" in accordance with Customs Officers Service Fees and Payment of Government Personnel Working After Hours provisions of local law.

"The clearance services provided to our vendors and airlines are vital to their operations; the longer a vessel takes to enter and depart affects their bottom line," the Treasurer said. "At the same time, we must take into consideration our obligatory duties to the community and to our government."

Treasury says customs — as regulated by statute — is able to charge for clearance services in order to support overtime. However, no overtime is paid unless funds are sufficient to cover these expenditures.

"Moving forward, all overtime is pre-approved by executive leadership based on the requirements needed to provide the service to our people," said Treasury, adding that during the month of January, the value of imports brought into the territory was equivalent to over $27 million with $11 million worth of exports in fish products departing the territory.

Pili also stated that it is apparent that the budgeted overtime under approved grants is not being spent and "highly" recommends that the grantees be encouraged and allowed to spend their budgeted funds to serve the purpose of their programs.

With the federal sequestration, the grantees should review ways of maximizing the usage of approved funding without jeopardizing their programs or the usage of local revenues, said Pili.

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