Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the General Accounting Office (GAO) study being conducted in the Territory is separate and apart from the ASG audit.
“The ASG audit has nothing to do with my office,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “The ASG audit is being conducted by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) in the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and it is my understanding that OIG has initiated this audit for purpose of evaluating ASG’s fiscal reform plan,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“As part of the tobacco loan settlement and in exchange for receiving an advanced payment of $18.6 million from the U.S. Congress to pay off its debts, ASG was required to put a fiscal reform plan in place and enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the U.S. Department of the Interior. The late Governor Sunia signed the MOU and the OIG is now conducting an audit to determine whether ASG is complying with the reform plans.”
“In no way is this audit associated with the GAO study that is now underway. The GAO study is being conducted at my request and also at the request of Congressman Nick Rahall, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Resources. The GAO is an agency separate and apart from the U.S. Department of the Interior and, again, the GAO is technically conducting a study, not an audit,” Congressman Faleomavaega said.
“Because I believe our local business owners are being disadvantaged as a result of foreign investments, I pledged to the American Samoa public that I would request a study in hopes that the information gathered can provide data necessary to the development of a sustainable local economy. First and foremost, I have requested the GAO to determine what percentage of private business in American Samoa is foreign versus local, what types of businesses foreign investors are involved in, and from whom they import their goods and products.”
“In addition, Congressman Rahall and I requested that the study focus on determining what the foreign business practices are, what the current corporate laws are in American Samoa, whether foreign investors are offered any incentives to operate in the Territory, and what percentage of their investments are reinvested into the local economy.”
“In turn, GAO informed us that the U.S. Census Bureau is conducting an Economic Census for the insular areas and that many of our questions may be answered by the information that is gathered during this process. Results are expected to be made available next year.”
“For now, we have agreed that the GAO should examine the use, assess the effectiveness, and evaluate the accountability of major federal grants and programs to American Samoa,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “American Samoa receives about $100-$120 million annually from the federal government and it is important for us to know whether these funds are staying in or going out of the Territory.”
“To address these objectives, GAO will use federal expenditure and budget data to identify major grants and programs to American Samoa and, through on-site observations and document reviews, report on the use of these funds. GAO will also review program documents and reports to identify program objectives and performance, as well as interview program managers in the United States and in American Samoa.”
“Finally, GAO will review single audit reports and program files and conduct field work, including discussions with American Samoa and U.S. government officials and other nongovernmental organizations, to determine accountability of U.S. grants and programs and to identify opportunities to improve program management. As a result of this process, I am hopeful that the GAO study will provide us with the information we need to develop American Samoa’s economy and provide a level playing field for our local business owners,” the Congressman concluded.