Thursday, July 24, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 27 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Auditor slams DOE for losing control of school bus program

By Mary Vorsino

LAST UPDATED: 12:27 p.m. HST, Aug 31, 2012

Ineffective planning and “unsystematic” oversight at the Department of Education allowed the costs of providing school bus service to students to skyrocket over the last five years, the state auditor’s office said in a new report.

“The Department of Education has lost control of its student transportation program,” the report concluded. “We found that the department has failed to identify and address anticompetitive behavior among contractors and allowed costs for school bus services to escalate unjustifiably.”

Since 2006, according to the audit, general funds spent on student transportation nearly tripled to $72.4 million.

In its response to the audit, the DOE acknowledged some of its past practices led to rising costs and cited examples of recent efforts to bring down the pricetag for student transportation.

“The DOE acknowledges that there is much more work to be done to protect public transportation funds and improve public confidence,” schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said, in a response letter to the state auditor.

Among the concerns state auditor Marion Higa raised in the report:

>> The DOE does not adequately plan for student transportation needs, and does not have a system of evaluating routes for cost efficiency;

>> Bus routes are rarely changed and changes made are not tracked to ensure they are benefitting students or the department;

>> The department lacks data to evaluate routes for cost savings;

>> DOE transportation officers are “ill-equipped and under-qualified” for the scope and amount of work they are expected to perform;

>> The DOE’s procurement practices for bus contracts violate the “spirit” of state procurement law.

The audit comes in the wake of cuts to school bus service this school year. Service to some 2,000 students was slashed, in the first major cut to school bus service. Also in recent years, the DOE has increased bus fares and cut routes to save money.

The cuts to school bus service will be discussed at the Board of Education’s meeting Tuesday.

To read the audit, go to http://www.state.hi.us/auditor/Years/2012reports.htm

 Print   Email   Comment | View 27 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
eastside808 wrote:
"Ill equipped and underqualified" is probably the most succinct description of DOE management. This is not news when you put educators into administrative positions that require totally different educational backgrounds and experience.
on August 31,2012 | 10:59AM
prest1948 wrote:
You hit the nail on the head. Instead of and educator in the Supt position, there should be a business management person with management experience in diverse areas. That person has people to draw from in the DOE to provide inputs for educational requirements. The DOE claims that they are always short on educators, but yet they continue to place qualified educators in administrative positions. Sure doesn't make sense to me. Put the right type of people in the jobs.
on August 31,2012 | 01:11PM
tiwtsfm wrote:
on August 31,2012 | 03:01PM
taka50 wrote:
We teach our students in school not to make assumptions and to use evidence to back up our opinions. You might want to reconsider your assumptions and validate them. This come from the DOE website Matayoshi comes to the DOE following a successful career in the private, government, and nonprofit sectors. She served as executive director, Hawaii Business Roundtable (2007-2009); president and chief executive officer, Community Links Hawaii (2006-2007); strategic planning consultant (2005-2007); chief of staff, City and County of Honolulu Board of Water Supply (2002-2005); and director, state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (1995-2002). She also held positions at Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. (1988-1995), Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel (1983-1988), and served as a law clerk for U.S. District Court Judge Samuel P. King (1982-1983).
on August 31,2012 | 03:18PM
danielpecoraro wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 31,2012 | 11:06AM
1local wrote:
All of DOE should be Audited...many balls have been dropped...
on August 31,2012 | 04:53PM
Living_Large wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 31,2012 | 11:21AM
allie wrote:
on August 31,2012 | 12:25PM
sailfish1 wrote:
"DOE transportation officers are “ill-equipped and under-qualified” for the scope and amount of work they are expected to perform;" Yet, they are paid very very well for doing a lousy job. Get rid of them and get qualified people and people who are not too cozy with the bus contractors.
on August 31,2012 | 11:29AM
culi wrote:
Is that the reason Matayoshi had a poor rating? She should get rid of the free loaders and also U.H. should get rid of the dead beats.
on August 31,2012 | 11:56AM
Dragonman wrote:
So sad, so disappointing. In six years the cost of student transportation has trippled. Wow, you know what, in a few days no one will remember this article and it will be businese as usual for the DOE. What do you have to say about this Governor ?
on August 31,2012 | 12:11PM
danielpecoraro wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on August 31,2012 | 12:19PM
beachbum11 wrote:
It is not kissing up but sucking up or they say
on August 31,2012 | 12:28PM
iwanaknow wrote:
"It's a new day in Hawaii".
on August 31,2012 | 02:52PM
kahuku01 wrote:
The contract tripled in the last six years to $72.4 million. Got to be some hanky-panky deal or under the table deal going on especially when the DOE transportation officers are "ill-equiped, under-qualified and doesn't have a system of evaluating routes for cost efficiency. The whole state of Hawaii's city and state government should come under the microscope because there is so much undisclosed wrongdoing going on internally and the taxpayers should start voicing their concerns as they have about the over budgeted rail system. These incompetent officials should be held accountable.
on August 31,2012 | 01:00PM
GeoDiva wrote:
Go Marion! Wish she could audit HART!
on August 31,2012 | 01:09PM
HawaiiNoKaOi wrote:
Why an I thinking that this school bus issue is nothing compared to the cost overuns and oversight that rail will incur?
on August 31,2012 | 01:13PM
Descartes22 wrote:
If the Senate was really concerned about the misappropriation of public monies, it would tackle issues like this - not grandstand some more about the Wonder debacle.
on August 31,2012 | 01:15PM
Mikilai wrote:
we pay full fare, hard on the pockets but it still beats the price I would pay for gas waiting in the long school lines and it would definitely save me time.
on August 31,2012 | 01:45PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
"The DOE’s procurement practices for bus contracts violate the “spirit” of state procurement law." This could mean that someone or some people in the department gave favored treatment to bus companies. There should be an investigation on how the contracts were procured and who approved of them. If there is a possibility of illegal activities, we must make sure to look into them and weed out those involved if any are found.
on August 31,2012 | 01:51PM
WesleySMori wrote:
Touche "NODADDYNOTTHEBELT"!! "TOUCHE"!!!!!!!!!! "GOD BLESS HAWAII & AMERICA"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on August 31,2012 | 03:34PM
akuman808 wrote:
You needed an audit to learn of the tripling of the transportation budget???? DOE is entrusted with educating our youth, auwe!!!!!
on August 31,2012 | 02:18PM
MalamaKaAina wrote:
A New Day in Hawaii begins when Abercrombie resigns!
on August 31,2012 | 02:30PM
Wazdat wrote:
ANother fine example of this great city and state totally INCOMPETENT
on August 31,2012 | 02:41PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Totally incompetent? That's a stretch. Generalized statement.
on August 31,2012 | 03:30PM
elijahhawaii3 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on September 2,2012 | 09:13AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
Very intelligent opinion.
on September 2,2012 | 04:22PM
mcc wrote:
I never understood why the DOE is responsible for taking children to school. What is wrong with the bus system or maybe the parents??? Am I missing something? I feel the same way about special ed getting so much of the budget.
on August 31,2012 | 03:54PM
false wrote:
They need to subpoena the email correspondence between these contractors and the DOE procurement personnel. I bet they would find a ton of information regarding gifts and dinners....
on August 31,2012 | 04:22PM
HD36 wrote:
What do you expect, we have the highest percentage of government workers in the United States.
on August 31,2012 | 04:34PM
Larry01 wrote:
And we also seem to have the highest percentage of high-and-mighty government bashers in the US.
on August 31,2012 | 05:10PM
Breaking News