Intentional Fiscal Responsibility


Dan Ahuna, Vice Chair, Trustee, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihauFiscal responsibility is more than just managing dollars and cents. In fact, counting pennies is the easy part. What puts the ‘responsible’ in fiscal responsibility is having clarity of the intention behind how and why we use our financial resources for producing and supporting others in producing value in our communities. Responsibility is essentially efficiency and efficacy captured in a strategy that leverages the resources under OHA with the strengths in our communities.

Value lies in our intent

What kind of life do we want for our people? What does it look like? What are the tangible and intangible things, ideas, concepts, and opportunities that we want and need? And, what kind of indigenous socio-economic system do we want to build to achieve and sustain such a life? Clarity on what kind of life we want to build for our communities sets our intentionality. Here at OHA, the value we can produce lies in supporting the creation and implementation of our intention to foster thriving socio-economic Native Hawaiian communities. The discussion on fiscal responsibility here at OHA, therefore, should be one based on building a strategy that merges three distinct core pillars:

  1. Intentionality of how and why we use our financial resources.
  2. Functionality of how best to implement our intentionality.
  3. Grounding our intent and functions in a place-based context.

Much of the focus that has dominated the discussion on fiscal responsibility in recent years has been on the functional use of our financial resources. While counting dollars and cents is useful for keeping tabs on how much money we can use, it does very little by way of producing direct value to our beneficiaries. The current discussion of fiscal responsibility is overlooking our intentionality of why we count dollars and cents, whereby some have lost context of why we invest in our community members. We cannot separate our intent of how and why we invest in our community from the functions we use to do so.

Currently, we have two initiatives that are working towards aligning our intent with our functionality. These are 1) adopting a Fiscal Sustainability Plan that will work in conjunction with 2) our Strategic Planning process. We humbly ask that beneficiaries participate in the strategic planning process by way of community meetings and focus groups so that we have an abundance of insight and data to ensure the financial resources managed by OHA can be directly aligned with the intentionality of our communities.

Creating a holistic socio-economic investment strategy for our communities that clearly articulates intent, a functional apparatus that aligns with that intent, within our unique place-based context, is the only way to achieve real fiscal responsibility.

Our dedicated trustees and staff are working hard to ensure OHA remains in alignment with the intentions of our communities and we look forward to navigating this uplifting journey with all of you. Mahalo to you all!