The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands has taken steps towards acting on 15 of the 20 recommendations made by the state auditor in 2013, but has not actually implemented any of them, according to a follow-up report released Friday.
Under pressure from a judge’s ruling that found persistent, severe underfunding of the department, Hawaii lawmakers agreed Thursday to give the department its biggest appropriation ever at $17 million for fiscal 2016, which ends June 30. House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke cautioned that the department is expected to use the funding to “appropriately and properly serve the beneficiaries.”
The auditor’s report — a follow-up to a 2013 audit that found a number of deficiencies in the department’s operations — comes two days before acting Auditor Jan Yamane is replaced by newly confirmed Auditor Les Kondo.
Acting State Auditor Jan Yamane, seen here at the Legislature in 2015, released one of her final reports as acting auditor on Friday. Les Kondo takes over May 1.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Here are some highlights from the follow-up report.
“The commission has not established a risk management plan and does not have any direct involvement in adopting policies or procedures related to the issuance of direct loans, delinquent loan collections, or monitoring contested case hearing orders,” the auditor says in the report.
“The department has, however, more clearly identified staff responsibilities for collecting and monitoring delinquent loan-related contested cases through amendments to the department’s loan policies and procedures manual,” the auditor says. “It has also established financial requirements for direct loan applicants and reassessed and adjusted departmental direct loan interest rates to help identify qualified loan candidates and to provide financial relief for borrowers.”
However, the auditor says the department continues to provide monthly reports to the commission “that do not fully reflect the severity of loan delinquencies.”
The department says its current reporting method is based on industry practices.
Read the full audit below.
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