14 years after audit blasted Public Utilities Commission, new report finds not much has changed

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Feb. 28, 2018 at 4:11 PM HST
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The Public Utilities Commission regulates companies that provide electricity, water, sewage, telephone and other public utility services in the state.

But the agency struggles with high turnover, doesn't have clear policies on key issues, and relies on an obsolete computer system to manage documents, according to a newly-released report from the state auditor.

One of the biggest problems: Employee retention. Eighty percent of the agency's employees have worked for the commission for five years or less.

And 19 employees have been there for a year or less.

The audit also raised questions about the PUC's document management system, which has cost $2.8 million so far.

The system, according to the report, is "almost universally considered by management and staff to be difficult to use, unreliable, slow and obsolete, with staff developing elaborate workarounds to accommodate for the system's shortcomings."

This is not the first time the commission has been under the Office of the Auditor's microscope.

In 2004, a state audit "found that core deficiencies, including staffing difficulties and an inefficient and ineffective information system, were the result of poor strategic planning."

"Fourteen years later," the audit continued, "we found that these challenges persist."

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