REPORT FROM THE SENATE MAJORITY – The Senate Committee on Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs will be holding an informational briefing to address concerns raised in the Audit of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands’ (DHHL) Homestead Services Division and other related departmental issues.   The Office of the Auditor (Auditor) released a report on the division (Report No. 13-02) in April of this year.

The briefing will be held on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 2:45 p.m. in the State Capitol’s Conference Room 229.

Among the concerns found in the report is the commission’s failure to meet its fiduciary obligations, as well as the department’s lax management of lessee loans. The report states that in attempting to provide long-term tenancy to lease beneficiaries, the commission has thwarted collection or cancellation of chronically delinquent homestead leases, consequently tying up leases and staff resources to the detriment of the beneficiaries still waiting for leases. The report further found that, as of June 30, 2011, there were 9,922 homestead leases statewide and 26,170 applicants waiting for homestead leases. In FY2011, the department issued 177 new homestead leases. That year, the department collected $61.1 million in revenues and accrued $70 million in expenses.

“I’m glad that the department has recognized many of the Auditor’s concerns and is seeking to aggressively look at and take action on the loan delinquency issues,” said Senator Brickwood Galuteria, chair of the Senate Committee on Tourism and Hawaiian Affairs. “This is not a time to point fingers, but is a time for self-reflection. My hope is that through this report and discussion that we will be able to take steps to resolve these issues and enhance the overall performance of the agency. Our beneficiaries and the public at large deserve greater transparency and accountability.”

The following officials from the DHHL and the Auditor will be present during the discussion:

  • Jobie Masagatani, Director, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
  • Darrell Young, Deputy Director, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
  • Commissioners, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
  • Jan K. Yamane, Acting State Auditor

DHHL administers about 200,000 acres of public lands set aside for agricultural and pastoral use to be leased to native Hawaiians, upon which they may live, farm, ranch, and engage in commercial or other activities. The department, headed by a nine member executive board, the Hawaiian Homes Commission, is responsible for the provision of financial and technical assistance to native Hawaiians (those with at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood), which enables them to enhance their economic self-sufficiency and promote community-based development. According to the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act of 1920, by doing this, the traditions, culture, and quality of life of native Hawaiians will be self-sustaining.

No public testimony will be accepted.

 

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