Department heads following pCard rules

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One’s a frequent flyer, another has repaid $1,189 in personal charges on his county-issued credit card, but in general county department heads and other top officials adhere pretty closely to the rules governing the county cards known as pCards.

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One’s a frequent flyer, another has repaid $1,189 in personal charges on his county-issued credit card, but in general county department heads and other top officials adhere pretty closely to the rules governing the county cards known as pCards.

That’s according to a West Hawaii Today analysis of 26 months of pCard statements for 23 top county officials. The records were released Wednesday as part of an ongoing response to the newspaper’s public records request into county pCard use.

County officials using pCards routinely fill out forms detailing the purpose of the expenditure. And, they complete forms explaining why they’re making the reimbursement.

Coming in with the most personal charges on his pCard is Gerald Takase, director of the Department of Liquor Control. Takase has promptly repaid the $1,189 in charges, and said Wednesday that Hawaiian Airlines defaults to his county pCard when he makes reservations, and he sometimes doesn’t catch it in time.

“It’s probably more trouble than it’s worth,” Takase said of the pCard system.

He said he preferred the old process before pCards were instituted about six years ago, where officials would simply submit receipts and get reimbursed.

Takase said his department has gotten several reminders from the Finance Department about proper pCard use over the past weeks.

The county purchasing cards became an issue after the newspaper revealed that Mayor Billy Kenoi routinely used his card for personal expenses since taking office in 2008. The mayor, who has been reimbursing the county, is now under investigation by the state attorney general and is responding to a county ethics complaint.

The frequent flyer in the county is Police Chief Harry Kubojiri, who rivals the mayor in time spent off-island, according to his pCard records. Kubojiri put $50,598.99 on his pCard over the 26 months from January 2013 through February 2015.

Records indicate Kubojiri spent about 183 days off-island over the 26 months, mostly on trips to Honolulu. He reimbursed $143.43 for personal use of a portion of a hotel and rental car, according to records.

Kubojiri did not return messages left at his office by press time Wednesday.

Also reimbursing for some personal use of rental cars and airport parking was Public Works Director Warren Lee, who reported paying back $100.07. Civil Defense Director Darryl Olivera reimbursed for a $72.51 rental car charge, and Corporation Counsel Molly Stebbins paid back $58.17 she accidentally charged on her pCard at Lava Lava Beach Club.

Several officials bought computer software and accessories on their pCards. That’s not against the rule, but it’s not encouraged.

“We make every effort to leverage bulk purchasing of software,” county Information Technology Director Don Jacobs said. “We use volume government pricing for all Microsoft operating systems and software, and utilize corporate rates for Adobe products.”

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The county has no policy on frequent flyer miles, said Finance Director Deanna Sako. That means government employees are allowed to keep the frequent flyer miles for their personal use.

That may change, however, as county Legislative Auditor Bonnie Nims is currently conducting an audit of pCard use, with an eye toward maximizing the return for county taxpayers.

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