A legislative report on the state auditor and whether the office is following its constitutionally mandated duty faulted the office for appointing executives without proper experience and said the move contributed to “delays and untimely reports.”

The office, currently led by State Auditor Les Kondo, was “inconsistent” in its application of auditing standards, leading to a years-long project by the staff to revise the office’s own operating and standards manual.

The report, released Thursday by the Hawaii House of Representatives, concluded that the State Auditor has “not been in complete compliance” with article VII, section 10 of the Hawaii State Constitution, which could pave the way for Kondo’s removal.

Les Kondo HART
State Auditor Les Kondo is under fire from House leaders who ordered a report on his office. The report is now published, and it is not flattering. Olelo Community Media

House Speaker Scott Saiki launched the working group in January to review the operations of Kondo’s office, an investigation considered by many to be the start of an effort to get rid of Kondo. Saiki said the review was triggered by “unnecessary litigation” that involved the auditor as well as missed deadlines for some audit reports.

At the same time, Saiki introduced a bill to slash the auditor’s annual budget by more than 50%, a proposal Kondo said would “basically gut” the office. That proposed budget cut later was significantly reduced.

Saiki named three prominent people to the group — it was led by former City Auditor Edwin Young and included former U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and former state Director of Finance Wes Machida.

In the 79-page report made nine recommendations, including that the state auditor as well as executive level managers and leaders in the office have at least five years of governmental audit experience.

The report said the group reviewed information going back to the inception of the state auditor’s office and that it interviewed former employees of the office.

But, the report said, Kondo declined to meet with the investigators, and refused to respond to questions sent by the group.

The constitution says the Legislature may remove the State Auditor from office for cause at any time by a two-thirds vote of the members in joint session.

The report also found that oversight of the office is needed “to preclude violations of laws and statutory requirements,” such as the deadlines established by the Legislature.

Without that oversight, the report warned, a myriad of problems will continue.

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