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Audit finds multiple procurement violations in airport project

  • MARTHA HERNANDEZ / MHERNANDEZ@STARADVERTISER.COMUpgrades needed to build the nearby Diamond Head commuter terminal
    MARTHA HERNANDEZ / MHERNANDEZ@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Upgrades needed to build the nearby Diamond Head commuter terminal

A report released by the state auditor today slams the Department of Transportation’s Airports Division for multiple procurement violations in its handling of a 12-year, $1.7 billion Honolulu Airport overhaul as well as other projects.

The report cites a “pattern of recurring violations and questionable practices” in its procurement of about $265 million in airport-related goods and services for fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

State airport officials essentially removed themselves from major decisions on the Honolulu Airport’s modernization and surrendered their oversight and responsibility to an outside firm, Parsons Transportation Group, Inc., the audit says.

That move allowed Parsons Transportation to rent facilities for free, and for the firm to be reimbursed $570,000 for “office renovation expenses” and $21,000 in “team-building training,” the report states.

Airport staff further failed to do their own construction costs analyses on other projects. That lead to the division paying $1 million for a project field office —  about 30 times more than what it should cost, the report stated.

DOT did not dispute any of the findings and “assures” state auditors that its staff must now complete procurement training, the report stated.

It’s not the first time the state auditor has found problems with the airport procurement process. The auditor flagged the airport’s system for failing to “safeguard public assets” and “not ensuring competition in the selection process” in at least one prior report.

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