UH to Conduct Investigation Into Contract Dealings

University of Hawaii officials have announced they’ll investigate allegations that a university administrator wasted what could add up to millions of taxpayer dollars.

The allegations are from local engineer Dennis Mitsunaga, who last Thursday testified in strong support of a bill, SB1383. The measure, which would give the Department of Accounting and General Services procurement oversight of UH construction contracts, just passed through the Senate Higher Education committee.

Mitsunaga argued that Brian Minaai, associate vice president for capital improvements, should be investigated for “blatant mismanagement.” One allegation suggests that Minaai only gives contracts to friends he selects from a “pool of hundreds of qualified architects and engineers in Honolulu.” 

State Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz Economic Development, Government Operations and Housing committee chair — last Thursday wrote to university officials requesting an investigation.

"I am concerned when issues such as this arise as state institutions need to have the confidence of the public that their taxpayer money is being expended according to all applicable procedure and laws," Dela Cruz wrote.

The university in its response said it would conduct an investigation. Today, university spokeswoman Lynne Waters disseminated a press release announcing that UH president M.R.C. Greenwood and other leadership would discuss the investigation at the Board of Regents' meeting this Thursday. 

(Dela Cruz’s letter and the university’s response can be found here.)

Mitsunaga outlined a number of concerns, including Minaai’s selection process for non-bid consultants, lack of accountability for costs and the “blatant waste of state money.”

Read the full testimony here.

Courtesy of katerha

— Alia Wong

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