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Ethics panel clears water board but calls for audit

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    Honolulu Board of Water Supply manager and chief engineer Ernest Lau stood outside the agency's building.

A city Ethics Commission investigation has determined no ethics laws were violated in the awarding of three Honolulu Board of Water Supply contracts but called for the city auditor to examine management and performance issues.

One of the contracts investigated is tied to the agency’s recent problems involving billing and customer service. More than half of the Board’s 162,000 customers received estimated bills showing charges higher or lower than their actual usage last year due to a series of problems.

The investigation was requested by board officials after a member of the public made allegations of misconduct, the commission said Thursday.

The commission looked into whether any relationships existed between the members of the board’s contract selection committee and those awarded the contracts. There were no business, financial or personal relationships that created a conflict of interest, the commission report said.

However, the commission said it found systemic problems and asked that the board and auditor take corrective action to prevent possible ethics violations in the future.

Board Manager Ernest Lau said he is pleased that the commission found no ethics violations.

"We appreciate the commission’s recommendations to review certain systemic issues within the BWS and we are taking action to improve these areas raised in the opinion," Lau said in a news release.

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