Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he has expressed his disappointment in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in a letter dated August 2, 2007 to Mr. Robert Sturgell, Deputy Administrator. A full copy of the Congressman’s letter to Mr. Sturgell is included below.
Dear Mr. Sturgell:
On April 23, 2007 as a follow-up to our previous discussions, you and your staff met at my office at which time I requested information regarding what options might be available to the American Samoa Government (ASG) to establish airport traffic control tower (ATCT) services at the Pago Pago International Airport.
On July 20, 2007, three months after our meeting, the FAA provided my office with a letter and information including a list of contractors who have experience building ATCTs. Nowhere in the letter did you mention that ASG would need to enter into an Other Transactions Agreement by August 31, 2007, or else the $2 million which has been set aside for the construction of a temporary airport tower would be lost.
On August 1, 2007, however, your Congressional liaison contacted my staff and informed my office that the FAA would need to know something no later than August 31, 2007 in order to get this processed before the money expires.
Frankly, I expected more from the FAA than this. At a minimum, I expected a 30 day response to our meeting of April 23, 2007, and I expected your letter of July 20, 2007 to include pertinent deadlines. That it did not is reflective of the FAA’s continued failure to appropriately assist ASG as it transitions its airport traffic control services at the Pago Pago International Airport.
As you know full-well, the FAA was derelict in its responsibilities in constructing a temporary airport tower and allowed parts that were sent to American Samoa for this purpose to rot and corrode. Also, after the US Department of Transportation had already approved a temporary airport tower for American Samoa and sent the parts for its construction, Mr. Bill Withycombe of the FAA’s Regional office then decided to conduct a cost-benefit analysis. Certainly if the FAA or Mr. Withycombe were sincere in its efforts, the FAA would have conducted a cost-benefit analysis before it sent parts to build a tower, not after.
While it is my intent to do what must be done legislatively to re-establish FAA presence in American Samoa, I wanted to let you know of my disappointment. Regardless, on July 25, 2007, I wrote to the Governor and our Fono and informed them that I have agreed to release the $2 million and that ASG may move forward in entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the FAA to develop plans and locate a site for the construction of an air traffic control tower within the vicinity of the airport.