The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) appreciates that the state audit released June 1 recognizes that “the amount of grants that OHA budgets for each year is significant.” The more than $21.5 million in total OHA grants for the two fiscal years covered by this state audit and the February state audit substantially contributed to improving the lives of Native Hawaiians. These grants were awarded to more than 260 programs and events that, among other things, helped low-income Native Hawaiians rent and own homes; provided reading and math assistance to at-risk youth; trained Native Hawaiians to obtain higher-wage employment; and helped manage lo‘i and fishponds to feed our communities.
The state audit released in February reviewed OHA’s non-competitive grants. This audit focused on our two competitive grants programs: our event grants, called ‘Ahahui Grants, and Community Grants, which combined constituted more than $7.5 million of the $21.5 million in total grants OHA issued in fiscal years 2015 and 2016. In addition, the June audit reported on our implementation of the auditor’s recommendations from 2013.
OHA appreciates that the June audit acknowledges that our community and events grants are “well-managed,” and that OHA has made significant progress in addressing concerns identified in the 2013 state audit, fully or partially implementing all but one of the 23 recommendations from the previous report.
However, we recognize that the purpose of this audit is to identify areas of improvement so that OHA can continue to fulfill our mandate of bettering the lives of Native Hawaiians. Formal Board and administrative initiatives already underway to review and update OHA policies and procedures, including those related to our grants program, will consider the findings and recommendations from the June audit.
In closing, OHA remains committed to improving the overall administration and reporting of funds that we disburse to the Native Hawaiian community and to providing increased transparency and accountability to our beneficiaries.
Visit www.oha.org/oha-audit to review OHA’s full response to today’s state audit and the list of total grant awards for fiscal years 2015 and 2016.
The audit did not review OHA’s current grantees but Ka Wai Ola published OHA’s FY18-19 programmatic grant awards in August 2017 at issuu.com/kawaiola/docs/kwo0817_web.