Sunday, February 23, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Thursday, November 01, 2018
Why OHA Needs to be More Transparent
By Keli'i Akina PhD @ 10:19 PM :: 1927 Views :: Ethics, OHA

Why OHA Needs to be More Transparent

by Keli'i Akina. Ph.D., OHA Trustee at-Large, Ka Wai Ola, November, 2018

In 2017, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) gave the Office of Hawaiian Affairs a failing grade of ‘F’ for its online financial transparency.  (See "Following the Money 2017: Governing in the Shadows"). Why is this a serious problem? According to U.S. PIRG, transparency is essential for the proper functioning of government:

"Citizens' ability to understand how their tax dollars are spent is fundamental to democracy.  Budget and spending transparency holds government officials accountable for making smart decisions, checks corruption, and provides citizens an opportunity to affect how government dollars are spent."

Even before the U.S. PIRG report, public confidence in OHA was starting to wane. In an independent 2015 survey conducted by SMS Research for OHA, OHA was ranked least favorable among Hawaiian serving institutions like Kamehameha Schools and DHHL. The top two reasons for the unfavorable rating given by those surveyed were that OHA management was ineffective, poorly managed or corrupt, and that OHA does not help or represent Hawaiian people effectively.

Some may see the U.S. PIRG report and SMS survey as unrelated. But when taken together, the report and survey indicate that OHA must improve its transparency.

Transparency, as it relates to public institutions like OHA, empowers members of the public by allowing easy access to information about how money is spent and decisions are made. Therefore, it is vital for organizations like OHA to hold transparency ensures an even playing field when it comes to getting information. Since becoming a trustee, I have observed areas where OHA needs improvement in transparency. For example, ad hoc committees and advisory committees established by the Board are not required to keep minutes of their meetings (although some may do so). As a result, major policy recommendations are sometimes made to the Board of Trustees without a reliable record of how those recommendations were arrived at.

Another example, cited in the U.S. PIRG report, notes that OHA does not provide the public with "a register of online checkbook-level spending."

Recently, a proposal to establish a financial transparency website as part of OHA's budgeting practice came before the Board. That measure would have required basic financial documents, including the OHA check register, to be posted online for beneficiaries and other stakeholders to review. While the Resource Management Committee did vote to approve the action, which focused primarily on how the OHA budget is presented to the Board, the provision establishing the financial transparency website was declined for further study.

One of the arguments put forth against; the transparency website was that OHA's financial information is already accessible, because it can be requested through the Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA). My feeling is that having to file a UIPA request places an undue burden on ordinary citizens' access to information that should be instantly available online.

So here is a prescription for making OHA more transparent and accountable; Any information that the public is entitled to anyway, through UIPA, should be posted online and immediately accessible. With full access to OHA's financial information, any beneficiary or member of the public would see that OHA, for the most part, does tremendous good on behalf of the Native Hawaiian community. That would build credibility and confidence in the organization.

Like dutiful parents of a child, OHA's beneficiaries must insist that OHA get a better grade for financial transparency on its next report card.





TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii



Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust 

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

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 Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

Judgepedia Hawaii

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

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

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii


National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons 

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii