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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Procurement controversies -- Hawaii

Hawaii audit calls for ouster of economic development director
State auditor Marion Higa said the head of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism withheld or misrepresented information that should have been provided to the Legislature and other state agencies. His actions obscured accountability over how federal grant money and money raised from the private sector were spent, she said.

In 2006 the state procurement office found that the Lingle administration did not violate procurement law when it turned to a nonprofit without competitive bidding to handle private sponsorships of the 2005 trade mission. The state attorney general's office found that the administration did not violate any criminal laws.

In April, the state auditor cited the department for a range of procurement errors that were the "direct result of its lack of training, poor management oversight, and a weak control climate."

In June, the city prosecutor declined to file misdemeanor criminal charges in relation to the department's botched award of a hydrogen investment fund contract to the lowest-rated bidder. The prosecutor said he found evidence of "incompetence," but not a crime.

Hawaii Lawmakers Question State’s China Spending
"There's this pattern of simply not knowing the law, not understanding what the rules are," said Kim, D-Kalihi Valley-Halawa, chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee.

"I know there isn't a pattern. I know why we did what we did at the times that we did it," the Department's director, Ted Liu, said. "We did not intentionally withhold any information or intentionally provide any erroneous information."

State Auditor Marion Higa cited the department last April for procurement errors due to a lack of training and oversight, and Honolulu Prosecutor Peter Carlisle found evidence last June of "incompetence" in Liu's role of handling a hydrogen fund contract that didn't go to the highest-ranked bidder, but Carlisle declined to press misdemeanor criminal charges.

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