Friday, December 27, 2002

State of Hawaii

Gov aims to reform
contract process

She hopes to create an open government
with 2 of her latest staff appointments

Lingle plans address for prime time

By Pat Omandam

Gov. Linda Lingle has taken the first step toward revamping how state contracts are awarded by naming Russ K. Saito, a retired phone company manager, as director of the state Department of Accounting and General Services.

The governor also named small-business woman Katherine Thomason, co-owner of a Kailua accounting and tax firm, as DAGS deputy director.

Lingle said she is relying on their experience and leadership to create an open government contract process where the public knows who the bidders are, why a contractor was chosen, the amount of the contract awarded and how many changes there were for a given contract.

Lingle said every step of the contract process will be available for public viewing on the Internet.

Lingle said she hopes to eliminate the atmosphere of political favoritism that surrounds state contracts. And she wants to attract more businesses to government work, which she said will lead to a fairer process.

"There are many companies that have stayed out of government contracting altogether because of the political nature of the process," she said yesterday.

Saito spent 34 years in the telecommunications industry, the past 25 years as a manager and director at Verizon Hawaii, formerly GTE Hawaiian Tel.

Lingle said she was attracted to Saito's "quiet and effective" leadership and his ability to get people focused on common goals and outcomes.

He was chosen out of a list of 187 applicants. A two-person search committee narrowed the list to 16, with the three final names recommended to Lingle.

"Throughout my career I've concentrated on growing my managerial skills, honing my communications skills and learning how to be a good leader," Saito said.

Thomason, a certified public accountant who has served as controller for OmniTrack Group and Kualoa Ranch, is a partner and co-owner of IMS Inc.

Lingle called Thomason's small business experience "ideally suited" to support the DAGS leadership.

Thomason said she hopes her background will help create cost-effective control systems for the department, which oversees state accounting, archives and public works, as well as the State Foundation on Culture and The Arts, the State Procurement Office, the Stadium Authority and the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission.

Also yesterday, Lingle named Brigadier General Robert G. F. Lee as state adjutant general and Gary M. Ishikawa as deputy adjutant general.

Lee heads the 9th Regional Support Command and is responsible for the Army Reserves in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Japan and Korea. He will head the state Department of Defense and also serve as state Civil Service director.

Ishikawa is head of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. As deputy adjutant general, he will oversee operations of the state Department of Defense and serve as commander of the Army National Guard.

"Both of these men are dedicated to ensuring the security of our state and our nation," Lingle said.

Meanwhile, the governor said she is confident that state public safety director-nominee Stephen Watarai, an assistant chief at the Honolulu Police Department, is the best man for the job, despite ongoing investigations by HPD internal affairs and the city Ethics Commission over his conduct during a Police Week fund-raiser.

"I think he's going to be just an outstanding leader, deeply committed toward leading what has been at times a troubled department," she said.

State of Hawaii

E-mail to City Desk


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