- By Pacific island Times News Staff
DOI announces $35.6M funding support for American Samoa
American Samoa will receive $35.6 million in fiscal year 2019 grant funding to supports its basic needs, the Department of the Interior announced Monday.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said the grants “support the people of American Samoa through improvements made in healthcare, schools, energy and utilities infrastructure, and other urgent needs.”
Office of Insular Affairs Director Nikolao Pula delivered a large portion of these funds to American Samoa Lt. Gov. Lemamu Mauga and members of his administration on May 3, DOI said. He and a small team from Washington, D.C. traveled to American Samoa to visit sites and offices that benefit from the assistance.
“Assistant Secretary Domenech and I are pleased to support American Samoa at the Department of the Interior,” Pula said, “as we do all the U.S. insular areas. We are happy to help support and strengthen the relationships they have with the federal government.”
The 2019 funding support for American Samoa combines Technical Assistance Program funds, Maintenance Assistance Program funds, Capital Improvement Program funds, and American Samoa Government Operations funds as follows:
A total of $2,136,280 in Technical Assistance Program (TAP) funding was provided for fiscal year 2019.
TAP funds are provided to improve economic and fiscal conditions in the territories. Activities may include, but are not limited to, building institutional capacity in health care, education, public safety, data collection and analysis, fiscal accountability, energy, transportation, economic development and communication. The 2019 TAP grants provided to the Government of American Samoa are as follows:
Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center - $669,600 for various projects:
Workforce Development Training in Division of Radiology and Laboratory - $200,000 to send the top two employees from both divisions on a two-year program at an accredited school. In the laboratory division, only six of 47 employees are certified medical technologists. In the radiology division, only four of 22 employees are credentialed.
Infection Prevention Training - $120,000 to hire a consultant to train the entire hospital staff on best practices for infection prevention and control. LBJ has been cited consistently for deficiencies from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regarding the lack of infection prevention practices.
Addressing nurse and support staff shortages - $249,600 to hire part time nurses, as well as a nurse consultant to review staffing schedule options and help improve workforce solutions and staffing shortages.
Health Information Technology Training - $100,000 to train healthcare digital technology technicians. This will improve maintenance and accessibility of the electronic health record for patients and doctors, as well as decrease medical errors and improve quality of care for patients. This training is recommended by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Office of the Governor - 2019 Polynesian Leaders Group Summit - $350,000 to host the annual Polynesian Leaders Group Summit. The Pacific Leaders group was established in 2011 among the Pacific Islands nations and territories of Polynesia. American Samoa is hosting this year's summit in July. Discussions will include the financial viability of the remaining tuna cannery in the territory, and options to create cooperation among the group related to fishery issues.
American Samoa Community College - $500,000 for the American Apprenticeship Initiative. Funds will be used to upgrade the technical training facility used for certificate programs in automotive and air-condition maintenance repair. The goal is to enroll 70 students in the first two years, increase the number of qualified skilled workers in the territory, and reduce its heavy reliance on off-island technicians.
Department of Port Administration - $383,680 for the Airport Rescue and Firefighting Division. Funds will be used to replace and update specialized firefighting equipment that has long been outdated. Funds will also be used to provide certified training to the entire airport rescue and firefighting team of 34.
Department of Public Safety - $233,000 for the REAL ID Implementation Project. Funds will be used to provide technological upgrades of the Driver's License and State ID systems within the Office of Motor Vehicles, to include database, infrastructure and interfacing in order to fully implement the REAL ID Act of 2005 in the territory. Using local funding resources, the territory has achieved an 80 percent compliance rate, but needs this funding to finally bring the territory into full compliance.
Under the FY 2019 Maintenance Assistance Program (MAP), $400,000 was provided in support of an assessment of the hospital required for American Samoa.
The MAP funds were provided to have the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conduct an on-the-ground assessment of the Lyndon B. Johnson Tropical Medical Center in American Samoa. This project was required in report language under the 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act directing OIA to provide information “on the condition of the hospital; the estimated cost of building a new hospital; the estimated cost of completing all renovations necessary to modernize the hospital; and estimates of whether a renovated facility has sufficient capacity to meet American Samoa's needs.” A report is expected after on or about May 16.
Capital improvement program funding awarded to American Samoa for fiscal year 2019 totals $9,864,000. CIP funds are used to address a variety of public infrastructure needs such as hospitals, schools, and wastewater and solid waste systems. Improvements to public infrastructure projects also support and encourage business investments.
The CIP grants awarded for 2019 are listed below, and include an additional $5,180,132 in prior year funding for the Hawaiki Cable project and the purchase of garbage trucks and bins:
Insular ABCs Initiative - $1,000,000 - Based on the Insular ABCs, deferred maintenance needs for public schools that are identified as critical health and safety items will be prioritized to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for children.
American Samoa Community College - $364,000 for maintenance and renovation, to include upgrading air conditioning units and renovations to the administrative building interior.
American Samoa Power Authority- $ 1,000,000 for improvements and maintenance to multiple structures and sites operated by ASPA, including the electrical and energy infrastructure, along with solid waste and landfill expansion and maintenance.
Aoloau Wind Turbine on Tutuila, $230,000;
Aunu’u Submarine Cable Maintenance, $100,000; and
Futiga Landfill Expansion and Upgrades, $670,000; and
Equipment Purchase of Garbage Bins and Trucks, $800,000 of prior-year funding.
American Samoa Shipyard Services Authority - $1,000,000 for ongoing upgrades, restoration, and improvements of the 3,000-Ton Slipway. Project includes the removal of existing individual units and systems; design, procurement, and transport of a new slipway; fabrication of various hardware and components; construction and preparation of site; assembly and installation of new units and systems, and finally the testing and certification of the new slipway. Begun in 2015, this project is ongoing and is expected to be completed in 2022.
LBJ Tropical Medical Center - $2,000,000 for upgrade to the Labor, Delivery, and Operating Room; Nursery; and Operating Suite. The new facility will meet several safety codes including Health Care Building Codes and ADA standards, among others. Surveyors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have identified health and safety deficiencies that will be addressed. Begun in 2009, this project is ongoing and is expected to be completed in 2022.
American Samoa Telecommunications Authority $4,500,000 for the Hawaiki Cable project wherein ASTCA is working on improving various telecommunications infrastructure comprising the IP Security systems, and conversion of its existing CDMA cellular service to LTE Advanced GSM based services. An additional $4,380,132 from prior year CIP funding will be added to this FY2019 grant for a total OIA commitment of $8,880,132 to the Hawaiki Cable project.
Funding being provided to the American Samoa government for operations in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2019 is $5.8 million. Each year, as made available by Congress, the Office of Insular Affairs provides grant funds for operation of the local government, including the judiciary. This quarterly payment brings the full total of FY 2019 government operations support to $23.265 million.