Audit criticizes DOT overspending, delays

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More than half-a-million dollars in office renovations — that’s  just one example of questionable spending for the state’s billion dollar airport improvement project.

“Well, it’s state taxpayers’ money,” acting state auditor Jan Yamane said.

Yamane is talking about expenses from the Department of Transportation for the fiscal year 2009 and 2010. This new audit slams the airports division.

A huge part of the audit covers Parsons Transportation Group, the contractor hired to manage Honolulu Airport’s $1.7 billion modernization project.

According to the audit, the DOT put the contractors’ need ahead of public interest, resulting in questionable allowances, including rent-free facilities, $570,000 for office renovations and $21,000 for team-building training.

The division also spent nearly $1 million on a field office in Kahului. The auditor believes it cost almost 30 times the amount it should have.

The auditor also criticized the airports’ division spending and delays.

For example, DOT did not procure a new security contract, allowing the original contract term limit to exceed by 16 months and more than $37 million.

KHON2 asked, “Do you think the DOT wasted money?”

“I think the DOT could’ve done a better job and could’ve gotten a better bang for its buck,” Yamane said.

Lawmakers started looking into these allegations years ago and held special hearings, surrounding these issues. Some lawmakers are disappointed this report took three years to complete.

“You know the auditor took a long time to do it, he did a good job finding all the information, but they took way too long and thus, it’s a historical document,” said Sen. J. Kalani English, (D) Hana, East & Upcountry Maui, Lanai.

In response, the DOT says it has changed its ways and points fingers at the previous administration.

In a letter to the state auditor, the head of the DOT says the department is now charging consultants rent, is diligent on monitoring, reviewing and executing extension requests on a timely basis, and has a stronger centralized leadership role.

The state auditor will review the situation in one year to ensure the DOT has changed its ways.

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