Thanks for the man page pointer. Here are my current thoughts of what I would do if this was my problem and some background discussion.
First of all, in my years of HPUX experience, I always tried to avoid using SAM. SAM does many commands when you execute a function and it is hard to debug errors, as you are discovering.
Back away from SAM, decide what you are going to do, use the HP documentation and man pages and do it, step-by-step without SAM in between you and the environment. This has always been my method-of-operating in an HPUX environment. That is not to say that SAM is 'not good' because I use it to add users, groups and other less complex tasks. However,
for non-trivial tasks or tasks that are giving errors, I immediately move from SAM to the command line.
Now, assume you are at the command line. Take a look at the files and their permissions, write them down, etc. Start your reconfiguration step-by-step. If that does not work and you get errors, for example with frecover(); I would use a system call tracing utility to find out what is the exact HPUX system call returning the error and the arguments being passed to the system call. Sometimes the return codes of the systems call are much more informative that the text messages in the console. You will have to read the detailed man pages of the system calls to get this information. Somethings you will have to go into the header files in the associated system libs and look for the #defines in the right includes to get the next level of details.
I don't recall the name of the HPUX system call trace utility, something like ptrace() or strace() or something like that. There is one however, and learning to use it will become one of your greatest sysadmin debugging tools.
However, in many cases, just executing the task from the command line, step-by-step, in a controlled manner, with lead to a discovery of the problem. It may not be necessary to go a level deeper into system call tracing; but you will surely learn a lot about your environment getting out from under SAM and into the nuts-and-bolts of the task at hand.