Finally! OHA Is Being Audited for Fraud, Waste and Abuse

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Keli‘i Akina, Ph.D., Trustee, At-Large

After well over a year of waiting, the highly anticipated independent audit of OHA and its subsidiary LLCs for fraud, waste and abuse, promised by the Board of Trustees, is finally underway.

While I am still deeply concerned about the amount of time it has taken to begin this audit, I do want to thank my fellow Trustees for following through and making good on our promise to OHA’s beneficiaries. As a result of their support and resolve, this audit is finally moving forward.

As so much time has passed since the audit was first approved, it is probably good to remind everyone of the goals of this audit. First, this audit is an exercise that can improve and strengthen the relationship between Trustees and the Administration through improved governance policies. Secondly, and importantly, it can improve OHA’s reputation by providing a higher level of assurance to the public that Trustees and all of OHA are striving for more accountability for every trust dollar spent. Finally, the independent audit can restore beneficiary trust and confidence in the Board’s transparency and management.

In my role as Chair of the Audit Advisory Committee, I helped craft the scope of work for the audit. Rather than duplicate the work of other types of audits already conducted on OHA, we set out to craft a unique audit, one that would produce a more complete picture of OHA’s financial health and specifically search out fraud, waste and abuse. With this in mind, I resolved to have OHA’s wholly-owned LLCs included in the audit, even though that was likely to face some resistance.

Then, in February 2018, the state Auditor published a scathing report on OHA. Just weeks later, the public attention to OHA’s finances reached a fever pitch when it was reported by Hawaii News Now that OHA was allegedly under investigation by the FBI and state Attorney General for corruption and misappropriation.

Finally, last month, OHA awarded the $500,000 contract for audit services to renowned financial and consulting services firm, Clifton Larson Allen LLP (“CLA”).

Now the work begins!

CLA is tasked with conducting a thorough, systematic examination of OHA and LLC contracts and other funds disbursements over the span of five fiscal years (FY 2012 to FY 2016). The CLA team will present its final report to the Board in April 2019, barring any further delays.

It is my expectation that the independent audit will help to lay the foundation for a stronger, more efficient OHA that will better serve its beneficiaries. I truly believe that this audit is the best thing that can be done at this time to illustrate to OHA’s beneficiaries, the public and the media that OHA is taking steps towards integrity, openness, and transparency.

Stay tuned for the final audit report, to be presented to the Board of Trustees in April 2019.

And, as always, E Hana Kākou / Let’s Work Together!

Trustee Akina welcomes your comments and feedback at TrusteeAkina@oha.org