PSC denies Stowers resignation in light of “serious misconduct”


The Public Service Commission has denied the resignation of the suspended ACEO of the Finance and Procurement of the Ministry of Health, Agnes Stowers.

The ACEO was also warned to adhere to the four weeks notice period and respond to the allegations otherwise PSC would recommend to Cabinet to “terminate [her] contract of employment without payment of the end of Contract entitlements” due to non-compliant with the notice period.

This is outlined in a letter addressed to Stowers, signed by Chair of the PSC, Lauano Vaosa Epa dated 15 March 2022 obtained by Radio Polynesia. 

Eight days after Stowers was suspended by Cabinet she submitted her resignation letter to the PSC citing “unnecessary stress” on her family and her reluctance to return to a work environment that is “unhealthy for [her] peace of mind.”

Lauano’s letter was sent five days after Stowers was officially charged with four counts of misconduct, the charge sheet was also obtained by Radio Polynesia (see below).

Stowers was suspended by Cabinet in relation to an Internal Auditor report that levels allegations of falsifying documents that led to awarding of a $48,000 tala contract to her husband’s company, Transwork Ltd.

Repeated efforts to get comments from Stowers were unsuccessful, but she disputed the Internal Audit report noting she “disagrees” with the report,” in an earlier interview with Radio Polynesia.

Lauano noted in her letter that during the Commission’s Delegate investigation, it’s alleged that Stowers admitted to seeking financial assistance from two Companies that are service providers for the Ministry of Health.

Evidence was found in Stowers’s work email.

Furthermore, the PSC alleges the paintwork at the Leulumoega Hospital in a progress report she prepared “misrepresented the completion of renovation works” dated 17 June 2021 which was carried out by Transwork Ltd. 

Another issue cited by the PSC is that Stowers allegedly forged the signature of another colleague on the progress report. During the course of the PSC investigation, Stowers attempted to “influence an employee of the Ministry to cover for her by “misrepresenting the evidence for the Leulumoega works.” 

The PSC also highlighted the sole awarding of flowers services to her mother’s company without following the proper Request for Quote method of procurement.


“Given that you have resigned without complying with the statutory notice period of four weeks, the Commission must now decide the appropriate way forward relative to the circumstances of this matter i.e., you are currently suspended and under investigation for serious misconduct.”

Lauano cited PSC Act 2004 section 56 is clear that a resignation is not in compliance with the contractual or statutory notice and does not validly terminate the contract unilaterally but only a resignation compliant with the notice can unilaterally terminate the contract.

Therefore the PSC’s position is that where a contract employee who is contractually obliged to serve a notice repudiates the contract when they do not serve the notice.

“As such the contract remains valid and binding unless waived by the Commission on the Government’s behalf.” Also, the PSC is entitled to proceed with any disciplinary action.

Regarding the resignation letter, Lauano stated the reasons behind it do not fall within the contract of employment as the PSC conduct exists to ensure that public servants work carefully and diligently and must fulfil their lawful obligation with professionalism and integrity, honestly and mustn’t bring the Public Service into disrepute.

“We understand and sympathise with your submission that this matter has caused unnecessary stress on your family and your concerns for their well being.

“Unfortunately, these things happen and it is outside of our control. What we can control (including you) however, the way forward is utilising the processes that are in place.

“We do not accept your submission that now is an -opportune time for [you] to move on to new horizons.”

Lauano reminded Stowers of her signed contract in which she agreed to the terms and conditions therein to uphold the Public Service Code of Conduct.

“You also agreed that you would be subject to the Public Service Disciplinary Process if you are suspected of misconduct. The letter of resignation of immediate effect is anything but honouring that arrangement.”

Lauano concluded by advising Stowers to provide a written submission on the issues raised by PSC.

“Otherwise, we will proceed to recommend to Cabinet to terminate your contract of employment without payment of end of contract entitlements due to non-compliant with the notice period and serious misconduct pursuant to your admission.”


The PSC charge sheet, dated 11 March 2022 outlined the misconduct charges against Stowers and was endorsed by Grace Taulealo, PSC Charging Officer.

The first charge indicated the ACEO breached section 19 (f) of the PSC Act when she failed to disclose and take all reasonable steps to avoid any real or apparent conflict of interest in the discharge of her duties and responsibilities as the ACEO.

The PSC cited that Stowers endorsed procurement services from Transworks Ltd, a company where her husband is a shareholder and her mother’s florist company Esther Florist.

Radio Polynesia has independently verified from the Government business registries, that Josef Kirk Mua is a shareholder of Tranworks limited.

It is alleged that in June last year Stowers sought quotes from three companies to repaint the Leulumoega hospital including Transwork Ltd. 

The ACEO assessed the quotation and endorsed the award of the contract. “It wasn’t until Transwork was awarded the contract that you passed on the paperwork to the Procurement Officer Kalolo Tuaena.”

In another incident in March 2022, Stowers allegedly admitted forging a progress report under the Principal Maintenance Officer, Iosefa Fa’aumu for the painting of the Leulumoega hospital indicating the completion of works for processing of payment.

However, this was untrue, the works were not completed according to the charge sheet. Fa’aumu also denied preparing the report.

“The progress report was fraudulent in its entirety to ensure early processing of payments by MOH while service is not fully completed by Transworks,” says PSC. 

Stowers is also accused of attempting to influence another MOH staff to lie to the PSC investigating officer, regarding getting the quotations.

Last year October, there was a beautification MOH program, in which Stowers was the Chair of the Committee. The program included florals for grounds and buildings, indoors and outdoors as well as interior bouquets.

In this matter, Stowers is accused of allegedly handpicking her mother’s florist company to provide floral arrangements without going through the request for quotation method of procurement.

The payment for her mother’s florist company to date was $7,375, says the PSC charge sheet.

In October-November 2021 Stowers allegedly assisted Iosefo Faaumu and Dr Glen Faapito in drafting the scope of work for the Nurses Hostel.

“On the same date [Stowers] conducted the assessment of the quotations with [another staff] and awarded the contract to Transwork at the value of $38,000 as per their quote. To date, the Ministry have yet to recover a copy of the assessment report.”

However, in November 2021 a second assessment report shows the contract with Transwork increased from $38,000 to $48,000.

“This report was misleading in content and form, there was no mention of the $10,300 variation and it was prepared as if it were the initial assessment report.”

In November, a completion report to process payments for Transwork was conducted after a site visit to the Nurses Hostel by Stowers and MOH staff.

The report was addressed to Dr Glen who at the time was overseeing the Maintenance Unit of MOH, but the report was never received by Dr Glen for his endorsement.

An Audit team conducted a visit the same month to the Nurse’s Hostel and found the work is not completed.

“To this point, the status of the works is not consistent with the report prepared” by Stowers and another staff member.

“According to the Audit Report, the work conducted by Transwork did not meet the scope of works in which their quotation was provided.”

The same month, Stowers is accused of making several follow up with the ACEO of Audit and his team on why the Transwork payments were on hold.

“The content of the message was highly inappropriate given her conflict of interest in this matter.”

The PSC indicated that Stowers claimed she “verbally declared” her conflict of interest to the Director-General, Leausa Dr Take Naseri which he denied.

“Whether or not you declare your conflict of interest to the DG is futile in this matter, the action had already been done and you ought to have written to the DG to declare your conflict of interest and recuse prior to your involvement in the procurement process.

“Further to declare your conflict of interest, you must completely remove yourself from any dealings or work relating to Transwork. “Yet it is evident in this matter that you have repeatedly failed to disclose and take all reasonable steps to avoid your conflict of interest with Transworks.

“A company owned by your husband and your husband’s family. In fact, you are also living under the same roof as your husband’s family who are shareholders of Transwork,” reads the PSC charge sheet. 

The second charge is alleged to breach section 19 of the Public Service Act when Stowers failed to act with integrity and not misuse her authority to seek and obtain benefits for herself.

The charge sheet alleges that Stowers admitted to seeking financial assistance from two Companies that are service providers for the Ministry of Health. An engineering company and another stationery store.

The email exchange uncovered these actions. The PSC also cited the “further deletions of the email were very dubious on [Stower’s] part and it was not until extensive recover works by the Ministry IT that the email was able to be recovered.”

The third charge violated sections 19 (d) and (c) when Stowers failed to comply with all laws that apply to her and all lawful reasonable instructions given by persons who have authority.

Incident one, failing to declare a conflict of interest and incident two, calling a staff to cover for her in the course of the investigation.

The final charge is for alleged breaching of sections 19 (j) and 17( c) of the Public Service Act when she failed to be honest and transparent in the procurement process for the Transwork Lt and Easter florist.