Nikolao Pula Named Director of the Office of Insular Affairs
Office of the Secretary
|Contact: Keith A. Parsky
PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA & WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior of Insular Affairs David B. Cohen announced today in American Samoa that Nikolao Pula, the former Director of Policy for the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), will serve as the Director of OIA effective immediately.
Pula is the first Pacific Islander of Samoan ancestry ever to serve as the Director of the Office of Insular Affairs of the Department of the Interior. As the OIA Director, Mr. Pula will advise Cohen in Washington, D.C. on operational and administrative matters involving federal policy in the insular areas. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and Assistant Secretary Lynn Scarlett praised the appointment today.
As OIA Director of Policy (February 2000-January 2001), Pula was responsible for the general policies regarding insular affairs and oversight of all federal activities. During his tenure with OIA, he served also as a policy desk officer (August 1993-July 2000) and as Acting Director of OIA (January 2001-June 2002).
"In the capacity as Director of OIA, Pula will draw on his past experience working in a bipartisan fashion while he was a senior staff member with the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate," Deputy Assistant Secretary Cohen said in making the announcement. "Many people expected that a political appointee would fill this position, but our approach to the territories is entirely bipartisan. Nik has a great amount of credibility with Republicans and Democrats alike, both on Capitol Hill and in this Administration."
"Since I took office as Secretary in January 2001, I have found Nik's counsel and guidance on insular affairs invaluable," said Secretary Norton. "He is a great choice for OIA director." Assistant Secretary Scarlett noted that "Nik is an extremely talented DOI career employee who has already proved invaluable to our work."
Before coming to the Department of the Interior, Mr. Pula worked for eleven years on Capitol Hill for Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), Congressman Fofo I.F. Sunia (D-Am. Samoa), the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation and the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms.
"He has a tremendous reputation," Cohen underscored. "As he has with his previous positions at Interior, Nik brings to the Directorship of OIA his deep affection and concern for all people of the insular territories and freely associated states." Having traveled many times to all four insular areas and the three freely associated states and having worked extensively with their leaders, Nik has an unparalleled, personal knowledge of insular issues. He did an excellent job as Acting Director and has more than earned the right to continue in that position in a permanent capacity. The members of OIA's staff are very excited about this: Nik is universally well liked and well respected in the office."
The Office of Insular Affairs is the Executive Branch's liaison organization with four of the five principal U.S. insular areas (American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and the three freely associated states (the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau). OIA also exercises certain residual responsibilities in two of the nine smaller U.S. insular areas, Palmyra and Wake Atolls.
Mr. Pula will provide executive leadership and direction to ensure sufficient personnel and budgetary resources are provided, organizational units are properly defined and strategic plans for OIA activities are properly developed. He will be responsible for improved capability of local governmental operations, planning and implementing long-range operations maintenance needs, and all policy coordination of project-specific issues.
A graduate of the Marist Brothers' School in American Samoa and Menlo College in Atherton, California, Mr. Pula has pursued further studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. He is the youngest son of the renowned Tofa Nikolao Iuli Pula Sr. (later Tuiteleleapaga Nikolao), one of the founders of the public school system in American Samoa. Mr. Pula and his wife, Lois Phillips Pula, R.N., B.S.N., make their home in Alexandria, Virginia. Mr. Pula's son, Konrad Nikolao, serves with the U.S. Marines in San Diego, California.