pCard audit finds big improvement

  • NIMS

HILO — Hawaii County government has cleaned up its act regarding its pCard use, according to a report to be discussed today by the County Council Finance Committee.

The report by Legislative Auditor Bonnie Nims is a follow up to a 2015 audit that found numerous violations of purchasing card use in two county departments: the Mayor’s Office and the Department of Liquor Control. That audit found 164 transactions totaling $29,961 that did not follow county policy, had a questionable public purpose and may have violated state law.

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The latest audit reviewed all pCard transactions from August 2015 to December 2017.

“We selected 67 transactions totaling $24,086 for further review and found that these transactions followed county policy and state law,” Nims said in the audit. “We commend county management and the Department of Finance for their continued efforts to improve pCard program efficiency and oversight.”

Finance Director Deanna Sako said she appreciates the positive audit.

“Everybody’s worked hard to make sure we’re following through on the auditor’s recommendations,” Sako said.

The 2015 audit contained six recommendations to tighten controls, and Nims said in her follow-up audit the County Council and the Finance Department have implemented all six.

Those recommendations were: updating the county code, treating all employees and departments fairly and equitably, updating pCard policy and procedures, strengthening monitoring practices to ensure expenditures are for a legitimate department purpose and demonstrate a clear benefit to the county and taxpayers, providing ongoing training to departments and using available technology from the card issuer to improve monitoring practices.

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Former Mayor Billy Kenoi’s pCard use drew statewide attention when Big Island newspapers revealed he’d used it to run up pricey tabs at two Honolulu hostess bars and to buy an expensive surfboard and bicycle. Although he paid those charges back, other personal and campaign purchases were not paid back so promptly and led to a grand jury indictment. He was subsequently found not guilty by a Hilo jury.

The Finance Committee meets at 1:30 p.m. today at the West Hawaii Civic Center, with videoconferencing from Hilo council chambers, the Waimea and Pahoa council offices, the old Kohala courthouse and the Naalehu state office building.

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