Monday, January 30, 2023
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, August 30, 2020
Case of the Missing Contact Tracer Millions
By Tom Yamachika @ 6:06 AM :: 4285 Views :: Ethics, Hawaii State Government, COVID-19

Case of the Missing Contact Tracer Millions

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

The story you are about to read is true. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent. This is the city: Honolulu, Hawaii. I live here. I’m a doggie.

This is the Case of the Missing Contact Tracer Millions.

In a previous column the Boss mentioned $1.25 billion that the federal government made available to Hawaii through the CARES Act. (I wanted to howl about the real possibility that lots of that money will disappear at year’s end.)

Another federal act was passed after the CARES Act to throw a few more bones to those using the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). That act, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, also made $11 billion more available to the states. Hawaii’s share of this additional money was roughly $50 million. It was supposed to be for necessary expenses to develop or scale up COVID-19 testing, conduct surveillance, trace contacts, and other pandemic related activities.

In Senate Bill 75, the legislature told us what we were going to do with that money. $36 million was to go to the Department of Transportation for thermal screening and related uses, and $14 million was to go the Department of Health for outbreak control, contact tracing, and personal protective equipment.

The bill also said that both agencies were to submit a monthly report to the governor and legislature that details all allocations and expenditures.

Governor Ige allowed the bill to become law without his signature on July 15th. None of the appropriations just mentioned were vetoed or reduced. So, the Department of Health was able to fetch $14 million.

It doesn’t seem like $14 million was spent on contact tracing. When a group of senators raided the Department to sniff around, they found only a handful of overworked tracers where there were supposed to be closer to a hundred.

As mentioned, the appropriation act required monthly reports to the legislature on how the money was spent. Reports to the legislature from an executive department are called Departmental Communications and are available on the Legislature’s website. I pawed through the departmental communications from May 5 to August 20, DC 432 to DC 492, and none of them were from the Department of Health. (There was no Department of Transportation report either.)

I’m not the only one trying to dig up information on where the money went. On August 19, U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo of California, who chairs the Subcommittee on Health of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote a letter to Governor Ige asking the same question. She said that “less than two months ago, Hawaii had the lowest number of COVID-19 cases per capita of any state in the nation. However, this trend has reversed and now Hawaii has the highest infection rate in the United States.” She requested specific information, and the last request was: “Due to numerous instances of conflicting and false information being released to the public by your Department of Health regarding the number of contract tracers employed and their capabilities, what specific actions will you take to restore the integrity of the Department of Health?”

Yipe! Talk about pointed questions!

This is a true story. The end of the story has not yet been written. We too will be following the money, or trying to, and will continue to bark like crazy if we can’t. Ours is a tough job but someone has to do it. The name’s Watch Doggie.


Last Week:  Is Our Share of CARES Act Money Disappearing?


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii