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Deputy Director of Finance and Administration
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Federal Grants Administrator
Department of Education
Deputy Director of Finances
Fagaitua High School
The report was prepared by Russ Aab, Deputy Director of Finance and Administration for the Department of Education, and submitted to the Acting Director of the Office of Planning and Budget Catherine Saelua.
The Senate Select Investigative Committee (SSIC) resumed their investigative hearings yesterday by recalling the Federal Grants Administrator for the Department of Education (DOE) Russell Aab for questioning on service contracts for HTC Fofo Sunia.SSIC chairman PC Lualemaga Faoa asked Aab if he was aware of any contracts awarded by DOE to Fofo Sunia, to which Aab answered that there had actually been only two contracts, one in Fiscal Year 2002 and another in Fiscal Year 2003.The original contract amount which Aab said he processed was $9,000.However he found out only two weeks ago when preparing a report about Fofo's contract for the SSIC that two change orders totaling $36,000 were made to both contracts."I prepared the original contract for $9,000 but I did not prepare the change orders or the PRs and as far I know, it was not bid out," Aab explained."In the second contract, the change order had a justification and it was signed by the former Chief Procurement Officer."Aab said the contracts were paid with a federal grant for technology and he said the production of a television program was allowable under the grant. Senator Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson said the contract amount for Fofo's services in producing the television program should have been stated up front.He stated that the processing of the contracts was improper and the change orders should never have been allowed.Senator Misaalefua Hudson asked Aab to explain a federal regulation relating to persons convicted of a felony being contracted by the government.Aab said that if a person is convicted, there is a "disbarment" process which must be initiated to prohibit that person from providing contractual services for the federal government.A term of disbarment is 3 years, and after that the prohibition no longer applies.Aab said he was not aware of anyone in American Samoa who had had disbarment action against them.Senator Tuaolo Manaia Fruean who had joined the SSIC hearing pursued clarification of this issue by directing his questions to SSIC chairman Lualemaga, who in turn relayed them to Aab.Aab answered, "The contract we had with Fofo Sunia was not as an employee.That contract was a services contract and we paid for his services."Senator Lualemaga Faoa asked Aab if local law prohibiting the employment of a person convicted of felony stealing, embezzlement and fraud applied in this case. Aab reiterated that he did not believe this law applied to contractors, only government employees and that there was no discrepancy in the awarding of the contracts to Fofo Sunia.SSIC chairman Lualemaga Faoa adjourned the hearing and informed Aab that he may be recalled to testify in the future if his testimony regarding the matter under investigation was needed.
Russ Aab, former Education Department grants manager, is back with the ASDOE central office with the new title of Deputy Director of Finance, part of the move by the governor to solve ASDOE financial woes due to problems with grant funding.
The grant was finally approved this month, after the governor hired Russ Aab as the ASDOE's Deputy Director of Finances.
Russ Aab, who has gone back to teaching, was the previous ASDOE grant writer.
Mr. Aab never had any problem meeting Fed. requirements.