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Evaluation of Hawaii state website

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Jump to: navigation, search is the website for the state of Hawaii.

Website evaluation

Budget P
Elected Officials
Administrative Officials
Lobbying P
Public records
State agency websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

This website was reviewed on January 15, 2012.

The good

  • The site's search function is good, and the site is fairly easy to navigate.
  • Elected officials are listed with contact information.[1]
  • Agencies are listed with contact information,[2] and officials are listed on department pages.
  • The current multi-year budget is posted.[3]
  • Audits are posted.[4]
  • Tax information is available.[5]
  • Ethics information is posted,[6] along with lobbyist lists.[7]
  • Bid opportunities and awarded contracts are posted.[8][9][10]
  • Information and form for making public records requests is available.[11]

The bad

U.S. PIRG rating

The U.S. PIRG rated the state website a "C" on providing online access to government spending data, with a score of 73 out of 100.[12]

The scorecard that U.S. PIRG uses has 13 items and focuses on a separate state website that is searchable at the checkbook level. Sunshine Review, on the other hand, focuses on the availability of separate spending-related items; they do not need to be in a central database.

Item Possible points Notes
Checkbook-level website 30 Detailed expenditure information, including individual payments made to vendors.
Search by vendor 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by contractor or vendor name.
Search by keyword of activity 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by type of service or item purchased, category, or government fund.
Search by agency or departments 8 Ability to search checkbook-level expenditures by branch of government.
Contract or summary information 10 A copy of the contract or detailed summary information is included for the expenditures.
Historical expenditures 5 Checkbook-level expenditure data from previous fiscal years.
Grants and economic development incentives information 10 Awardee-specific grants and/or economic development incentives are included in the checkbook tool or elsewhere with specific award amounts.
Downloadable 3 Information can be downloaded for data analysis.
Tax expenditure reports 10 The state's tax expenditure report is linked on the website.
Off-budget agencies 2 Expenditures from quasi-public agencies are included on the website.
City and county budgets 2 Financial information for some local governments is accessible.
ARRA Funding 2 A link is provided to the state's website that tracks funding related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Feedback 2 Website users are capable and encouraged to give feedback about the site.

There are several similarities between the checklists. For both checklists, the searchability of information factors in to how usability is rated. Both checklists have an item relating to contracts, tax information, and the budget. The U.S. PIRG requires information for quasi public entities; Sunshine Review requires information on lobbying, which includes quasi public entities' lobbying activity.

Unlike the Sunshine Review checklist with each check worth one point, different items on the U.S. PIRG checklist merit more or fewer points, depending on the item.

State Integrity Investigation

The 2012 State Integrity Investigation graded state ethics laws according to an "Integrity Index." The index was created by researching 330 "Integrity Indicators" across 14 categories of state government. The report assigned grades based on what laws are on the books, and whether or not they were effectively enforced. The report was a project of The Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International.[13]

Hawaii received an overall grade of C, or 74%. It ranked 10 out of the 50 states.[14]

Category Grade
Public Access to Information D
Political Financing B
Executive Accountability C+
Legislative Accountability C-
Judicial Accountability D+
State Budget Processes D
State Civil Service Management D
Procurement B+
Internal Auditing A
Lobbying Disclosure D-
State Pension Fund Management D+
Ethics Enforcement Agencies C
State Insurance Commissions F
Redistricting A

Transparency Legislation


Resource Run by Includes
Hawaii Sunshine Grassroot Institute Salaries, vendor payments
Follow the Money National Institute on Money in Politics Campaign contributions


State and local government employees

According to 2008 Census data, the state of Hawaii and local governments in the state employed a total of 90,599 people.[15] Of those employees, 68,101 were full-time employees receiving a net pay of $287,265,552 per month and 22,498 were part-time employees paid $23,445,784 per month.[15] More than 56% of those employees, or 51,042 employees, were in education or higher education.[15]

State Employee Benefits

Holidays Full-time, permanent employees of the State of Hawaii receive the following paid vacation days:[16]:

  • New Years Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • President's Day
  • Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole Day
  • Good Friday
  • Memorial Day
  • King Kamehameha I Day
  • Independence Day
  • Statehood Day
  • Labor Day
  • Election Day
  • Veteran’s Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Health and Life Insurance

Health Insurance The State offers eligible employees a choice of health insurance plans - medical, drug, chiropractic, dental, and vision - through the Hawai`i Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, which is administratively attached to the Department of Budget and Finance and is under the direction of a Board of Trustees.[17]

Premium Conversion Plan

The State's Premium Conversion Plan provides an opportunity to most health care plan participants to save some tax dollars and make the most of their paychecks. Employees of the State who are enrolled in any health care plan offered through the EUTF that qualifies under the PCP Rules, may participate and have their income taxed after their health care plan contributions are deducted, so their take-home pay should be greater than if not enrolled in the PCP.[17]

Group Life Insurance Plan

The State currently pays the monthly premium for group life insurance coverage for eligible employees. No employee contributions are required.[17]


The Hawaii public Employees Retirement System serves state and county employees and teachers. It currently faces approximately $6.2 billion in unfunded liabilities.[18] According to the Pew Center on the State's research, the state has one of the greatest burdens in the nation relative to the size of its payroll and population, with an unfunded liability of one and one-third times the amount of its payroll in fiscal year 2008.[19] Until 2006, when a new contributory plan began, state employees did not pay anything for their pensions.[20] The state legislature diverted about $1.7 billion from annual contributions in the early 2000's.[20]

In 2009 the fund’s net assets decreased from $10.8 billion to $8.8 billion.[18] That same year, the fund provided $839 million in pension payments to retirees and is projected to pay out $1 billion by 2012 to keep up with Hawaii’s aging work force.[18]

A recent study by economists Joshua Rauh of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business concluded that the Hawaii pension fund will run out of money in 2020.[21] Should the pension fund run out of money then, the cost the following year would be $1.7 billion, which would be 24% of state revenue.[22]

Funding Levels

The state's pension liabilities can be calculated in a variety of ways, which yield different numbers. Below are the numbers as calculated by the Pew Center on the States[23], the American Enterprise Institute[24] and Professors Robert Novy-Marx of the University of Chicago and Joshua Rauh of Northwestern University, Kellogg Graduate School of Management.[25]

In Thousands
PEW AEI Kellogg (2009)
$5,168,108 $18,533,398 $16,100,000

Public Records

The Hawaii Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) is the law that governs access to public records in Hawaii. The law was first enacted in 1975.

The Hawaii Sunshine Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see: Hawaii FOIA procedures.

External links


  1., "Elected Officials," accessed January 15, 2012 (dead link)
  2., "Departments and Agencies," accessed January 15, 2012 (dead link)
  3., "Budget," accessed January 15, 2012
  4., "Financial Reports," accessed January 15, 2012
  5., "Department of Taxation," accessed January 15, 2012
  6., "State Ethics Commission," accessed January 15, 2012
  7., "Lobbying Filings," accessed January 15, 2012
  8., "Request for RFPs," accessed January 15, 2012
  9., "Small Purchase Contracts," accessed January 15, 2012
  10., "Sole Source Awards," accessed January 15, 2012
  11., "UIPA," accessed January 15, 2012
  12. US PIRG, Following the Money: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, March 14, 2012
  13. "50 states and no winners," State Integrity Investigation,
  14. Hawaii Corruption Risk Report Card, State Integrity Investigation,
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 2008 Hawaii Public Employment U.S. Census Data
  16. State Holidays
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 [ Health Life Insurance]
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Reporter "Hawaii Employees Retirement System $6.2 Billion in the Hole – Will Taxpayers Have to Make Up the Difference?" July 9, 2010 (dead link)
  19. The Pew Center on the States "The Trillion Dollar Gap" February 2010
  20. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named trillion
  21. New Mexico, Study: NM state pension plan will run out of money in 13 years, Sept. 9, 2010
  22. Yahoo! Finance “11 state Pension Funds That May Run Out of Money Oct. 18, 2010
  23. "State Pensions and Retiree Healthcare Benefits: The Trillion Dollar Gap,” Pew Center on the States," accessed January 4, 2011
  24. Biggs, Andrew, “The Market Value of Public-Sector Pension Deficits,” AEI Outlook Series, no. 1 (2010)
  25. Novy-Marx, Robert and Joshua Rauh, 2010, "Public Pension Promises: How Big Are They and What Are They Worth," Journal of Finance (forthcoming)