Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that the General Accounting Office (GAO) has released its report on American Samoa’s administration of federal grants.
“As a follow-up to a promise I made during the 2002 elections, Congressman Nick Rahall, Ranking Member of the House Resources Committee, and I called for a GAO study to look at foreign investment in American Samoa and its impact on local businesses,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “In response to this request, the GAO sent a team to American Samoa to review this request and found that American Samoa’s Department of Commerce does not keep a clear and accurate record of foreign versus local investment.”
“In fact, according to the GAO, the Department of Commerce’s records are vague and, as such, the GAO focused on American Samoa’s use of federal funds. Like other States and Territories, there are serious problems in the way that federal funds are managed in American Samoa and I am hopeful that this report will provide a base from which our local government can make improvements. Again, I want to emphasize that other States and Territories also have problems but the GAO has now provided our local leaders with a report that can be used to make necessary changes for the benefit of our people,” the Congressman said.
“Each federal agency also has in place mechanisms to make sure federal funds are being managed wisely and this is why the U.S. Department of Education recently sent a team to American Samoa to review how our local government is managing those funds.
As I have said before, the job of a Congressman is to make sure his constituents get their fair share of federal dollars and it is up to the local governments to manage those dollars.”
“It is also my job to report to the people and give an accounting of my work in Congress,” Faleomavaega said. “This is why in 2003 I released a detailed chart showing the amount of federal dollars that come into American Samoa. For example, in a seven-year period from 1995-2001, American Samoa received over one billion dollars in U.S. federal aid and over $770 million went directly to ASG for education, health care, transportation, etc.”
“While critics try to mislead our people on this point, the truth is, on a per capita basis, American Samoa continues to receive more federal funding for education than any other State or Territory. In fact, on a per capita basis, American Samoa continues to receive more Federal funding than almost any other State or Territory. In the last two years, federal funding for our health care system has also increased by 50%.”
“In other words, as a result of your support and prayers and votes, American Samoa is getting its fair share of federal dollars and I am committed to making sure our federal funding continues to increase. On the other hand, I am hopeful that our local government will review the way in which it manages our federal funds. Locally, our federal funds must be managed in a way that benefits the Territory and improves our education and health systems.”
“Governor Togiola has inherited a government in need of change and I believe he is committed to making the necessary improvements that will bring about a greater accountability of how federal funds are managed in the Territory. In turn, I am committed to working with my colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats, to make sure American Samoa continues to receive the federal support and funding it needs. I am also committed to working with our local leaders to bring about change and I am confident that with due diligence, and with your support and prayers, we can effectively build a government that will benefit our people now and for generations to come,” the Congressman concluded.