by Pearl Hahn
In a draft audit, state auditor Marion Higa alleges that under Director Ted Liu, the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism has been operating under less than honest standards. According to the report, the department violated procurement procedures, filed false financial reports, and spent funds inappropriately on overseas trips.
Liu is accused of prioritizing expediency of job completion over accountability in the department. The audit also claimed that DBEDT transferred money to programs that were previously denied by the Legislature. The gravity of wrongdoing Higa dug up prompted her to suggest Liu be fired as head of DBEDT.
Unfortunately, the audit has not been yet released for public scrutiny. Meanwhile Liu has gone on the offensive, saying that Higa “crossed the line” and made erroneous conclusions. Governor Lingle has also commented publicly in Liu’s defense. It remains to be seen whether Ted Liu and the Governor will issue a more comprehensive explanation of their conduct.
Needless to say, whether or not he is guilty as charged, it doesn’t look like Liu will be in an unemployment line anytime soon.
This is not the first time DBEDT has come under the auditor’s fire. In 2003, the auditor found significant deficiencies in DBEDT’s accounting practices and management of its loan programs in a 50-page report. Ninety-four outstanding loans totaling $9.4 million were identified.