Special Audit of OHA and Its Subsidiaries
by OHA Trustee Dr Keli’i Akina PhD, Ka Wai Ola, May, 2017
Your Board of Trustees has taken to heart the concerns of beneficiaries, and voted to authorize a special financial audit and management review of OHA and its subsidiaries. According to the approved Board action item, this audit seeks to identify areas of “waste, abuse and fraud...” among other purposes.
I am humbled to have been appointed Chair of the Advisory Committee for this special audit and consider it a daunting responsibility which can only be fulfilled with the support of fellow Trustees, administration and beneficiaries. I wholeheartedly commend OHA Chair Colette Machado and my fellow Trustees for approving the audit and demonstrating our shared commitment to a transparent and accountable OHA. Together, we can use the results of this audit to ensure that OHA funding is truly serving the crucial needs of Hawaiian beneficiaries such as housing, jobs, education, and healthcare.
A common question is “Why have beneficiaries called for a special audit when OHA currently does other audits?” The answer is simple. OHA routinely undergoes three audits with specific purposes (financial statements, federal grants, and the Legislative Auditor). However, these routine audits do not comprehensively and systematically hunt for the problems the special audit will deal with. For example, the Board approved action item states that this special audit will look into issues raised by beneficiaries and Trustees to “identify potential areas of waste, abuse and fraud in the procurement of goods and professional services.”
This month, the structures and steps for executing the audit are being put in place. The Advisory Committee has begun to meet and is in the process of drafting the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for independent, highly qualified accounting and/or auditing firms to conduct the audit. Our Advisory Committee reports to Trustee Carmen Hulu Lindsey who chairs the Resource Management Committee of which all Trustees are members. Trustee Hulu Lindsey brings her strong business background to her leadership of the RM Committee. Trustee Lei Ahu Isa has been appointed Vice Chair of the Advisory Committee. She brings to the table her many years of experience as a state legislator and member of the Board of Education. Additionally, three Trustee Aides serve as members and provide the Advisory Committee with valuable legal, fiscal and policy expertise.
The ultimate purpose of the special audit is to serve the Hawaiian people, the beneficiaries on whose behalf OHA trustees and staff work so passionately and tirelessly. With proper execution, this audit will empower OHA to fulfill its kuleana to protect and grow the trust, so that it will provide for the betterment of countless generations of Hawaiians to come. That’s why this audit is so very important.
Trustee Akina welcomes feedback. Contact him at TrusteeAkina@oha.org or 594-1976.