Maunakea financial audit completed

  • In this 2015 file photo, observatories sit atop Maunakea. (Associated Press)

A financial audit to be presented to the University of Hawaii Board of Regents found no irregularities in how the various entities involved in use and management of Maunakea lands account for their revenue and expenses.

The regents, who will receive it at its Tuesday meeting in Honolulu, authorized the review in February.

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The audit evaluated university funds, lease payments and external funds received in the support of “stewardship, management, education, and other activities related to Maunakea.” UH leases 11,228 acres of the mountain that are part of the Maunakea Science Reserve.

University entities that were part of the review include UH-Manoa, the Institute for Astronomy, UH-Hilo, the Office of Maunakea Management, the Research Corporation of UH, and Maunakea Observatory Support Services.

The audit noted the entities have “developed processes and procedures to appropriately account for their respective financial transactions,” but that no individuals or groups at any entity could “describe the university’s overall operations and related financial results associated with the UH-managed lands on Maunakea.”

The audit says that made the review more complex but it doesn’t consider the organizational structures to be a weakness as the entities “collaborate and coordinate their efforts effectively.”

The audit lists six recommendations, including allocating a portion of the costs of the Maunakea ranger program to the observatories and determine if the per passenger charge of $6 for commercial tour operators is sufficient.

It appears to be the first financial review of UH’s Maunakea lands.

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Past audits have focused on its management of conservation lands on the mountain.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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