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Thursday, June 29, 2023
Report: Honolulu Liquor Commission is Still a Mess
By News Release @ 4:03 PM :: 1588 Views :: Honolulu County, Ethics

City concludes Internal Review into Honolulu Liquor Administration, Unveils Findings and Recommendations

News Release from Office of the Mayor, June 29, 2023

HONOLULU – Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced today the findings of a comprehensive internal review into the practices and procedures of the Honolulu Liquor Commission’s enforcement system. This review was aimed at addressing concerns and ensuring the highest standards of integrity and accountability within the agency.

“One of my greatest responsibilities as Mayor is to ensure the highest standards of transparency, accountability, and fairness in our city’s institutions. The findings of this internal review have revealed the need for significant improvements within the agency’s operation,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “These findings are disturbing and unacceptable and we must restore trust in the agency. We will be implementing comprehensive reforms to ensure the commission operates in a manner that is ethical, accountable, and consistent with the values we hold dear as a community.”

The internal systems review, initiated by the Managing Director and authorized by the Honolulu Liquor Commission in February 2023 was carried out by a dedicated team led by Hui Chen, strategic advisor to the Managing Director. An internationally renowned leader in ethics and compliance. Ms. Chen’s mandate was to conduct a thorough review of the enforcement operations, including processes, activities and internal procedures.

The key findings include:

  • Lack of clear policies, procedures and methodologies to guide Enforcement practices
  • Lack of structured training and clear performance evaluation criteria
  • Paper-based activities tracking systems create inefficiencies and inaccuracies
  • Lack of reliable data prevents ability to use data to ensure consistency and to monitor enforcement activities
  • Lack of a system or processes to track and investigate complaints against staff hinder timely and meaningful response to complaints

Recommendations include:

  • Technology upgrades to enable GPS-based activities tracking and randomized inspections
  • Bring in trainers experienced in liquor enforcement to provide much needed training
  • Policy, procedures, and Liquor Rules update and revisions
  • Implement centralized complaint-tracking system
  • Public engagement through open houses, surveys, neighborhood meetings

The Managing Director and Mayor extend their gratitude to Ms. Chen and her team for their diligent work in conducting the internal review. The findings and recommendations from this internal review will serve as the foundation for the agency’s ongoing efforts to strengthen its operations and effectively fulfill its regulatory responsibilities.

To view the results of the report click here.


SA: Lawmakers, bars call for shake-up of liquor panel

KITV: Internal review finds Honolulu liquor commission needs oversight, and some business owners agree  

HNN: City compliance expert calls for urgent changes to embattled liquor commission



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