The Office of Hawaiian Affairs has posted a report reviewing contracts and disbursements of the agency and its limited liability companies.

Chair Colette Machado and Trustee Dan Ahuna are interpreting the report, described as an independent audit, as a confirmation that OHA “is moving in the right direction. In fact, a number of the recommendations of this report are similar to those of recent state audits.”

But Trustee Kelii Akina said, “This audit raises numerous concerns over the possibility of waste, fraud and abuse. It is essential for OHA to deal with these concerns and act decisively to implement the auditors’ recommendations.”

OHA Trustee Kelii Akina first pushed for a detailed audit of the agency in 2017. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Machado and Ahuna see things differently: “While this report observed indicators of potential fraud, waste or abuse, it did not identify actual instances of fraud, waste or abuse.”

It was Akina who called for the audit. The report comes nearly a year after Civil Beat first reported that the Hawaii State Auditor concluded that OHA “spent millions of dollars loosely and without proper oversight.”

The new audit, conducted by Clifton Larson Allen, offers a number of recommendations and observations, including these:

  • OHA should establish a process whereby it ensures that financial conflicts of interest disclosure statements are completed on an annual basis, consistent with the policies established for the LLCs.
  • OHA should ensure that verification of receipt of a product or service is document consistently.
  • OHA should consider the implementation of a hotline for anonymous reporting of fraud and abuse.
  • OHA should consider establishing an internal audit division or function within the organization.

Read Akina’s full analysis here. And read Machado and Anuha’s full statement here.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author