One thing we know to be true about the work of most of those in Hawaii state government.

There’s more work than they can ever possibly get done.

That’s why working smarter has become so important. It’s not necessary for officials to duplicate work that’s already been done elsewhere. They can and should learn from the work of others.

That is the opportunity presented by the State Accountability Project, a first-of-its-kind, data-driven assessment of transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states. Civil Beat did the reporting in Hawaii for this national effort.

Today, for the first time, Hawaii can look at its laws and practices when it comes to government transparency, ethics and accountability and compare them with the 49 other states.

The State Integrity Investigation means Hawaii public officials have no more excuses for not improving accountability. The investigation has provided a roadmap for anti-corruption efforts.

This is potentially huge.

But what’s critical is that the State Integrity Investigation not become a study like so many that line the bookshelves of government officials, to be forgotten over the years. Of course, in this case the good news is that the work exists digitally for all to read — citizen and government official alike.

What’s the key lesson from the State Integrity Investigation, as it relates to Hawaii and to state governments nationwide?

Good intentions aren’t enough. The investigation found that state governments are largely doing a poor job delivering transparency and accountability to their citizenry.

And that Hawaii is among the worst.

Hawaii ranked 44th when we examined the gap between the law and reality. That score reflects what’s known as the enforcement gap, the gap between what’s supposed to happen “in law” and what actually happens “in practice.”

The problem: State laws, including in Hawaii, lack teeth. Better education, combined with enforcement, is necessary.

We live in a state where saving face is an important value. We respect personal dignity. But when something is handled inappropriately or the actions of government officials are not in the public interest, the obligation of fellow government workers and citizens must be to the public good, not to protecting an individual, as good as a person may be otherwise.

Sometimes people make mistakes, and they need to be held accountable for them. Our loyalty must be to the place, to the citizens, to making a better society for future generations, not to protecting the reputation of a government official.

The role of a journalist is to serve as a watchdog for potential corruption. That’s certainly how we see the job of our team. But we also know that with the consolidation of media in Hawaii, there are fewer reporters covering the statehouse, courts and other governmental entities.

The State Integrity Investigation provides a basis for understanding how government here works and how it compares with other states.

Reporters in each state researched 330 “Corruption Risk Indicators” across 14 categories of government: access to information, campaign finance, executive accountability, legislative accountability, judicial accountability, budgeting, civil service management, procurement, internal auditing, lobbying disclosure, pension fund management, ethics enforcement, insurance commissions, and redistricting.

This work could be a resource for high school teachers, college professors, government officials and anybody concerned about the health of our democracy.

It could, we believe, provide the basis for policy reforms that would strengthen transparency and accountability in Hawaii.

We invite you to use it, to ask us about it and — most important — to advocate for ways to make the state a better place. To get involved.

Hawaii got an overall grade of C. But we think it’s fair to say that nobody here thinks of Hawaii as a C state.

The results of the State Integrity Investigation can help guide the way to raising that score. Public officials no longer have the excuse that they have too much to do to be able to figure out how to improve the situation here in Hawaii.

That work has been done. Now it’s incumbent on public officials to take steps that will elevate Hawaii’s ranking — and on citizens to help them.

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