When Hawaii State Department of Education Superintendent Pat Hamamoto, for the first time in history, addressed the Hawaii State Legislature from the Senate chamber floor in 2004, she requested that the Department of Education take over management of the public school’s capital improvement and repair and maintenance program from the Department of Accounting and General Services. She said: “Give us (DOE) the resources and authority to do the job and then hold us accountable.” Her wish was granted by the Democratic majority, which dominates the Hawaii legislature and the DOE took over procurement responsibilities beginning in 2005.
Five years later, on Dec. 28, 2009, Hamamoto abruptly “retired” nearly two years before her contract expired in October 2011. Her resignation comes in the wake of an audit released earlier this year that clearly details insider dealing, waste and alleged corruption in the Office of School Facilities and Support. See reports:
Part I: https://www.state.hi.us/auditor/Reports/2009/09-03.pdf
Part II: https://www.state.hi.us/auditor/Reports/2009/09-04.pdf
In Part I of the state audit, conducted by Grant Thornton LLP on the state’s behalf for FY 2007, auditors found “significant deficiencies, weaknesses and instances of non-compliance.” The firm recommended implementation of controls and oversight over the DOE’s procurement process. The DOE agreed to forward the findings to the Office of the Attorney General, Criminal Division, for a thorough investigation.
Part II of the expanded audit, conducted between August 2007 and November 2008, verified “inappropriate” procurement practices and a “culture of disregard” for procurement rules in the Office of School Facilities under the leadership of both former Assistant Superintendent Rae Loui and current Assistant Superintendent Randy Moore.
The audit found that the current Assistant Superintendent “perpetuates the culture by demonstrating to his staff that compliance with procurement rules is secondary to getting the job done.”
As Chief Procurement Officer for the Department of Education, Hamamoto was accountable for the actions of her subordinates. Critics say Hamamoto set the tone for her administrators in her 2004 speech before the Legislature, when she admitted how she learned to “work around the system”