Monday, February 1, 1999

Hawaii gets C-
for management

The survey blames the
Civil Service system and unions
for the weak rating

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service


WASHINGTON -- Hawaii is not a particularly well-run state, a detailed survey of state management practices has concluded.

The survey, released today by the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs at Syracuse University and Governing magazine, gave Hawaii an overall management grade of "C-."

Six other states received the same grade, and only one -- Alabama, with a "D" -- did worse.

The study gave Hawaii an "F" in managing information technology; a "C-" in financial management; a "B-" in capital management; a "C-" in human resources; and a "C-" in managing for results.

The report blamed Hawaii's poor performance on complacency and a civil service system that hampers managers.

"We're aware that it's easier to make a state look good in good financial times," said Katherine Barrett of Governing magazine, noting that Hawaii is in worse financial shape than any other state. "That said, Hawaii has an awful lot of weaknesses.

"It doesn't come off looking too good.

"It's sad because 20 or 25 years ago, Hawaii was regarded as a model for management," she added. "They still have a lot of good management systems in place, but people have stopped paying attention to them."

Information technology, a measure of the technological efficiency of a state, was Hawaii's weakest area. While other states are increasing oversight for information systems, Hawaii has slashed its budget for information and communications services by 40 percent since 1992, the report found.

The head of the information division is relatively powerless and stringent competitive bidding requirements often lead to the buying of obsolete equipment.

In the field of human resources, the report found the isles hamstrung by strong unions.

"Hawaii has one of the most rule-bound personnel systems in the country," the survey found, and attempts at civil service reform have failed. "The influence of unions on personnel management here goes far beyond pay levels; there are frequent confrontations between labor and state government. . . ."

Barrett said rigid civil service rules have led to inflexible hiring policies and make it hard to reward good workers. "I get the sense it causes a great deal of frustration among managers," she said.

Many states have powerful unions, Barrett said, but only in Hawaii and Rhode Island do the unions seem to get in the way of better management.

In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Ben Cayetano said reforming Hawaii's antiquated civil service system is a priority for his administration.

Hawaii's financial management also has suffered from the booming economy of decade ago, which lulled managers into a "don't worry, be happy" attitude, the report stated. Its "free-spending history" has given Hawaii one of the highest debt loads in the nation and the isles have no rainy day fund to cover bad times.

Pentagon’s isle projects
could hit $325 million

By Pete Pichaske


WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon wants to spend $325 million on military construction projects in Hawaii during the next two years -- more than in any other state.

Budget proposals unveiled today for next fiscal year show a level of military spending that Hawaii leaders hope will give the state a much-needed economic boost.

"Hawaii's economy can certainly use the money, particularly the construction industry," said Mike Slackman, spokesman for Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Honolulu, who has lobbied heavily for military construction funding in recent years.

"We've always considered the military as the third arm of our economy, so this is a real boost," said Kathleen Racuya-Markrich, spokeswoman for Gov. Ben Cayetano.

The Clinton Administration proposal includes $95 million for barracks renewal at Schofield Barracks, $86 million to begin a new headquarters complex for the Pacific Command at Pearl Harbor and $29.5 million for a berthing wharf at Pearl Harbor Naval Submarine Base.

It also includes $49.3 million for 229 family housing units at Pearl Harbor and $26.6 million for another 100 units at Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base.

Last year, Hawaii received $223 million in military construction money.

With the "add-ons" expected in Congress before the budget is approved this fall, next year's total could rival that record level.

The administration also has proposed spending several million dollars on Hawaii's national parks and refuges, including: $1.5 million to expand Hawaii Volcanoes National Park; $500,000 to expand Haleakala National Park; $3.6 million for Kahalau National Wildlife Refuge on the Big Island; $1 million for the Oahu Forest Refuge, and $1.2 million for a new visitors center at the Kaloko Hono Kohau National Historic Park on the Big Island's Kona Coast.

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin