HONOLULU, HI (March 28, 2022) – On March 21 and March 28, 2022, sixty-one American Samoa government ethics officers, representing the designated ethics officials for American Samoa Government (ASG) departments, took part in a government-wide training initiative delivered by the Pacific & Virgin Islands Training Initiatives (PITI-VITI), supported by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs and administered by Graduate School USA. The Ethical Decision-Making for Governmental Employees course was tailored to the unique needs of American Samoa, incorporating both general ethics concepts and the specific legal codes and relevant ethics legislation in the Territory.
The newly appointed American Samoa Government (ASG) Ethics Officer, Acting Territorial Auditor Tofa Sualauvi Su’a, requested that PITI-VITI provide this ethics training in response to Governor Lemanu’s Executive Order 008-2021, that created a Code of Ethics for the executive branch.
Within less than a month’s time, the PITI-VITI team, along with ASG Ethics Officer Tofa Sualauvi Su’a and his team, planned and delivered eight hours of ethics training for governmental employees – providing timely support for the new Ethics function in the Territory and allowing the new departmental ethics officers to learn and discuss and apply key principles and the new ethics law.
American Samoa’s Field Representative for Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs, Lydia Faleafine-Nomura, joined the first day of the ethics training to welcome participants and explain their new roles. She asked thought-provoking questions around what it means to be moral and ethical.
In addressing the ethics officers chosen to represent their departments, Faleafine-Nomura emphasized that,
“Sometimes it can be difficult especially here at home in American Samoa because of our culture, our family ties, our close network of friends and families… But if you’re in a situation where you are struggling to decide what to do, you simply must weigh two things…. Is it right or is it wrong?”
The training offered two days of instruction, providing each ethics officer with eight Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits. Graduate School USA instructor Drummond Kahn and Jason Mitchell, the Chief Legal Counsel for the American Samoa Governor’s Office, combined their expertise of American Samoa’s legal system and best ethical practices in the workplace.
“Covering ethical concepts and connecting them with current government decision-making in American Samoa was very appropriate and timely given the new ethics code, and gathering these ethics professionals to study and discuss ethical issues in government can help press the government’s ethics efforts forward.”
To conclude the ethics training, Chief of Staff for the American Samoa Governor’s Office, Tuimavave Tauapa’i Laupola, shared his acknowledgement and appreciation to the PITI-VITI staff, the American Samoa Government, and the participating ethics officers. He made it clear that the reason for having ethics training was that
“…in order to run a transparent and accountable government, a code of ethics must be established to provide a moral compass for the ASG workforce.”
He focused on Governor Lemanu and Lieutenant Governor Talauega’s philosophy of Integrity, Leadership, and Commitment.
“Integrity is doing the right thing whether anyone is looking or not; Leadership is will and influence that maximizes the efforts of others towards an achievement of a goal, in this case doing the right thing; And commitment is your ability to repeat this process because you know it is the right thing to do and will benefit our people.”
The sixty-one ethics officers participating in the two-day training session helped push forward government efforts to improve its ethics-based approaches to decision-making in American Samoa’s government.