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Audit recommends change in school repair policy

Audit recommends change in school repair policy

HONOLULU (AP) — The management of Hawaii public school construction and repairs is hampered by outdated policies and a shortage of staff, according to an audit conducted by a national consulting firm.

Money appropriated for student education has been used for urgent repairs at schools on islands outside Oahu, as a result, and inefficiencies have led to delays and cost overruns, according to the audit.

The 69-page Deloitte & Touche audit concluded that the Hawaii Department of Education’s facilities development branch “does not have updated, comprehensive and consolidated policies and procedures to manage design and construction projects.”

The branch annually oversees approximately $250 million worth of capital improvement projects.

Hawaii legislators in 2004 transferred responsibility for Oahu schools to the DOE. Public school projects on neighbor island facilities continue to be managed by the Department of Accounting and General Services. The audit concluded DAGS is “insufficiently staffed” with inspectors, which leads to delays, costly change orders and budget overruns. Insufficient staffing results in mistakes or poor workmanship, according to the audit.

Matt Wolfram, a manager with Deloitte’s Los Angeles office, on Tuesday told the Board of Education Audit Committee that neighbor island schools are apt to use pupil funding to pay for needed repairs or maintenance. The DOE, he said, appears to adequately staff oversight of Oahu school maintenance.

DAGS officials in a written response to the audit said the agency has lost positions for the program since 2008.

Duane Kashiwai, public works administrator for the DOE’s facilities branch, said the department is considering project managers for the state’s 15 complex areas. Each complex area includes a high school and feeder schools. The Farrington complex is testing the concept.

“That gives us eyes and ears on the ground,” Kashiwai said.

Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi ordered the audit to address department inefficiencies.

Deloitte & Touche in 2011 was hired to perform two audits for $451,000.


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