Business Report 4/18/16: Rail audit

Business Report 4/18/16

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The rail audit is online for people to read. It will take time to study, since the auditor's conclusions were leaked but the rail authority's detailed response is only available for the first time.

I did notice a breakdown on $1.6 billion in cost-overruns attributes $190 million to lawsuits and delay claims. But those delays are the main reason for $240 million in cost escalation, listed separately. In fact, when you subtract the factors not attributable to delays by rail opponents, you find most overruns were caused by them, not rail management.

The audit also faults the repackaging of station bids. That's an attack on the only move since the project began that actually saved $31 million. It also attacks rail for real-time accounting that doesn't match projections. It doesn't match because it's newer data. Frequent updates on actual numbers is a good thing.

The auditor makes an outright accusation of management knowing but not reporting true projections. But the dots are not connected. That's the kind of knee-jerk unsupported allegation more suited to Facebook than an audit. And that's a shame, because a project so complicated can use honest auditing. That's undermined by allegations unsupported by any spreadsheet.

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