Legislature Denies Funding for OHA and LLCs Unless Audit for Fraud, Waste and Abuse is Completed
Trustee Keli'i Akina praises decision as victory for OHA beneficiaries
News Release from OHA Trustee Keli’i Akina PhD, April 27, 2019
HONOLULU, HI - In a unanimous decision on April 24, the Legislative conference committee on HB172 HD1 SD2 CD1 voted to withhold funding for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' $6.58 million biennial budget request unless a long-delayed audit of the agency and its LLCs is completed. The audit specified by the legislative committee was approved by the OHA Board in March 2017 and designed specifically to ferret out potential fraud, waste and abuse. Despite the passing of more than two years and an allocation by OHA of $500,000 to hire an auditing firm, the audit has not been completed. The Board recently approved a further delay in its completion until December 2019.
Trustee Keli'i Akina, who cast the sole vote against the further delay of the audit, said, "The Legislature did the right thing by holding OHA accountable for completing its long-delayed audit for fraud, waste and abuse. This is a victory for OHA's beneficiaries and State taxpayers who deserve to know the truth about how OHA and its LLCs handle public funds. Now that OHA knows it must make good on its promises to be transparent, it should be motivated to prevent further delays in the audit."
Trustee Akina added, "It is important to note that the Legislature has required that the audit include not only OHA but also its LLCs. Much of the delay in the audit has been caused by the refusal of the LLCs to provide documents requested by the auditors and the failure of the OHA Board to compel the LLCs to comply. Hopefully, the demand of the Legislature should put an end to this lack of commitment to the transparency."
Trustee Akina served as chairman of the Advisory Committee that designed the scope of the audit and has been a major advocate for its completion.
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this news release are the personal views of Trustee Akina and may not reflect the views of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs or its Board of Trustees.
Keliʻi Akina, Ph.D., is a community leader who is known for the phrase he has coined, "E Hana Kākou" - Let's work together! Over the past several years as a public policy adviser at the legislative, congressional and international levels, Dr. Akina’s mission has been to preserve the Aloha Spirit by which native Hawaiians and people of all races are welcomed and encouraged to work together for a better future for all our keiki. He was elected to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees in November 2016.