OHA’s Structure and Moving Forward


Dan Ahuna, Vice Chair, Trustee, Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihauOHA is responsible for carrying out a broad scope of activities. These activities are geared specifically to enhance the lives of Native Hawaiians by improving living conditions statewide. The scale of issues faced by OHA is demographically diverse and geographically bound by State borders. Due to the diversity of issues facing the Native Hawaiian community, OHA has evolved a broad scope of activities aimed at enhancing the well-being of Native Hawaiians. We conduct advocacy, research, community outreach, grant making, loans, land management, and investment portfolio management. Through our comprehensive portfolio of social interventions OHA addresses many underlying issues simultaneously. These interventions are aligned vertically across the spectrum of needs and issues facing Native Hawaiian communities. Beneficiaries are, therefore, served according to what need on the spectrum of interventions best apply to you. This organizational approach has evolved to meet the vast array of beneficiary needs. OHA is not looked at by our beneficiaries to only address one problem, but instead we are asked to assist on many different problems. The expectations by our beneficiary base require us to offer a broad scope or products and services. This has led us to structure our services as vertical programs, in the hopes that when we engage with our beneficiaries there is a vertical program within OHA that can assist you.

Having said that, scaling our services to meet the diverse needs of our communities is a challenge as scaling a vertically aligned organization can be very costly. The more vertical programs we build within OHA the more it costs, and therefore, the more money we must use from the Native Hawaiian Trust Fund. Therefore, you can see the challenge we are faced with, where the expectations of our beneficiaries and stakeholders require us to address multiple issues simultaneously – leaving us to grow our internal programs vertically, while having to manage our overhead costs so that we can ensure the future spending power of the trust fund. As it stands now, given our unique multifaceted position in Hawai‘i, here at OHA we still think it is beneficial for us to internally operate as a vertically aligned organization with numerous programs that support our beneficiaries and stakeholders. Having said that, moving forward we would like to increase our capacity in three main areas:

Increasing Clarity of Mission and Organization-wide Outcomes

Clarity of mission and organization-wide shared outcomes is essential for directing an organization into the future. Without a clear end goal, organizations can be pulled in directions it is neither prepared for, has inadequate resources for, or is not in alignment with the organization’s core existence. Therefore, it is essential for all organizations to clearly define their mission and organization-wide shared outcomes. This is vital for OHA at this stage in our development.

Promoting Some Degree of Internal Alignment and Collaboration

Organizations inherently have both vertical and horizontal structures in them simultaneously to varying degrees. In order to improve efficiency and efficacy, whereby maximizing value as an organization, horizontal structures that utilize expertise across the spectrum of activities the organization engages is needed. The degree of horizontal integration varies according organizational uniqueness, and in the case of OHA, given its diversity of responsibilities and limited resources, horizontal integration is a necessity for maximizing value production.

External Partnerships

When maximizing value as an organization with limited resources, external partnerships prove to be essential. Partnerships formalized through an MOU or MOA are formed out of the recognition that partners share mutually desired outcomes – whereby they strategically align their resources to achieve those recognized shared outcomes. By partnering, all may lay claim to the holistic unit of value created by the strategic mobilization, alignment, and implementation of resources and activities. This enhances the value production of each organization without stretching resources and activities too thin.

As the Chair of Committee on Resource Management I am always looking for ways to update you on how we are working to align OHA with beneficiary wants and needs. When reviewing our FY 2020-2021 Biennium Budget (located on our website), please keep in mind our commitment to providing a diverse array of products and services that reflect beneficiary sentiments. Mahalo nui for allowing me to serve you.