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HART spent nearly $300K for laptops — most of which aren’t being used

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 9:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Back in September when the second stay-at-home order was still in place, the rail authority paid $293,000 to purchase about 200 Dell laptops.

The idea was to replace their decade-old computers and so their employees and contractors could work for home.

But months later, most of the computers are still sitting in their unopened boxes at the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s downtown office.

HART interim CEO Lori Kahikina said 22 of the laptops have been installed in the past two months. Sources said there’s not much need for the rest.

“When you spend billions and billions, a couple of hundred thousand doesn’t seem like much. But I look at it and say the billions that they spent are made up of a lot of expenditures like this,” said longtime investigative reporter and blogger Ian Lind, a board member of Common Cause Hawaii.

“The unfortunate thing is that it is probably indicative of similar sloppy decision making.”

The computers were bought during past CEO Andy Robbins tenure because rail officials worried that many employees might have to work from home permanently because of the pandemic.

But Kahikina said all HART employees have been vaccinated and the telecommuting has stopped.

Another factor is the mass layoffs at HART. Since January, dozens of employees have left the organization. And their computers are no longer needed.

Kahikina said that between September and January, HART didn’t issue a single computer to an employee -- even though most were telecommuting at the time.

“So either A, people got nothing done,” said Lind. “Or B, these things were not necessary because they got their work done at home with the computers they had -- which means this was a totally unnecessary outlay.”

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