UPDATED 6/16/11 8:45 a.m.

A financial audit of Hawaii’s health insurance fund for public workers and retirees is months overdue — and the state has been unable to reach the California firm paid more than $100,000 for the work.

Donna Tonaki, the trust fund’s financial management officer, told trustees of the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund at a monthly meeting Wednesday that she expected the draft audit two weeks ago. But accounting firm Macias Gini & O’Connell has not returned phone calls or emails for the past two weeks.

The hold up could trigger a delay of the Hawaii’s statewide audit, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report — aka the CAFR — which is already past due. (The most recent CAFR available is for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009.)

EUTF board chairman Dean Hirata, who is also deputy director of the state Department of Budget and Finance, was visibly concerned about the delay.

“The state can’t issue the CAFR without this audit,” he said.

Sacramento-based Macias Gini & O’Connell was hired to audit the benefits trust fund for the 2010 fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2010. The company has so far been paid $111,000 of the contract’s $125,000 value, according to EUTF Administrator Barbara Coriell.

The trust fund, which covers approximately 200,000 active and retired state and county employees and their dependents, is facing an estimated $14 billion in unfunded liabilities.

UPDATED A spokeswoman for Macias Gini & O’Connell told Civil Beat Thursday morning that the report is “definitely in process and it should be issued soon.” In contrast with what EUTF said, she said the firm has been “in close contact with (EUTF staff) this week.”

Under a “who we are” section of the company’s website, it says: “Obsessively detail-oriented, full of integrity, totally reliable and totally boring providers of assurance, tax and business management services.”

Some of the delay stemmed from the firm’s request to review the previous year’s “work papers,” Coriell told the board. Grant Thornton had been contracted to handle the 2009 audit, and Macias Gini & O’Connell wanted access to Grant Thornton’s work, which the EUTF provided.

“Grant Thornton’s work should be irrelevant at this point since their report was for the prior year,” Hirata said.

EUTF trustee Audrey Hidano asked if the board could seek damages from the firm for not completing the audit on time. She was told the answer is unclear because Macias Gini & O’Connell’s contract technically falls under the Hawaii auditor’s office. Coriell said the auditor’s office has been told about the lack of communication.

State Auditor Marion Higa is out of the office until Monday, according to a staffer.

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