OHA: Office of Hawaiian Affairs

Statement from OHA Chair regarding Akina’s press release calling for OHA CEO removal

Statement from OHA Chair Colette Machado regarding OHA Trustee Keliʻi Akina’s press release calling for the removal of OHA’s Chief Executive Officer

First, Trustee Akina’s statement that “the state audit reveals that OHA’s CEO is personally responsible for the misspending of millions of dollars” is inaccurate.  Nowhere in the recent state audit did the auditor find that OHA misspent millions of dollars. This is a gross misrepresentation of the audit.

Instead, the auditor questioned the process OHA used to disburse $14 million in what the auditor deemed “discretionary spending.” Of these expenditures, $13.1 million was approved by the OHA Board of Trustees in public meetings subject to the State Sunshine Law. All of these Board-approved funds were distributed to programs that provide critical services to Native Hawaiians, such as the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Hawaiian-focused charter schools and higher education scholarship programs. This is money well spent.

The only time the word “misspent” is found in the audit relates to trustee allowances and the CEO’s administration of the trustee allowance process. The auditor noted that trustee allowances represent just a fraction of OHA’s overall spending.

Moreover, the removal of OHA’s CEO is not included in any of the auditor’s 10 recommendations. The employment of OHA’s CEO is a confidential, personnel matter for the full Board of Trustees to decide and inappropriate to discuss in public.

The state audit points out improvements that need to be addressed by both the Board of Trustees and the Administration.  Now is the time for OHA to come together to share in the responsibility of making these changes so we can better serve our beneficiaries.  This is why the first action the Board of Trustees will consider will be a moratorium on the use of Fiscal Reserve, Trustee Allowance and Sponsorships, and CEO Sponsorships until such time that these policies can be amended by the Board.

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