23 Nov 2004

American Samoan territorial auditor to meet U.S. officials over concerns

4:44 pm on 23 November 2004

American Samoa's Territorial Auditor, George Webster, is to meet with the U.S. Department of Interior over concerns that his position is ineffective.

He says he has a lack of enforcement powers, he cannot compel territorial departments to undergo audits and his office is totally dependent on the executive for funding.

Mr Webster says he hopes next week to discuss re-establishing the role of a government Comptroller with the Interior department's Inspector-General.

He says a Comptroller has broader powers, including the ability to conduct comprehensive audits.

Mr Webster says whilst many department directors are co-operative, the Treasurer has obstructed audit actions, the Attorney-General has been unresponsive and others in the executive have also been resistant.

"They have it within their power to remedy all of the impairments that I deal with but they've shown no interest in doing that. So, I think the actions of the government speak very much louder than their words. They say that they're for accountability and transparency. However, their actions do not support that."

George Webster says he's yet to receive a response from the Interior department to his proposal to re-establish a Comptroller.