The following complaint addressed to the USDOJ Procurement Collusion Strike Force, was anonymously forwarded to Hawai’i Free Press Sunday June 20, 2021. It was apparently sent to federal authorities May 4, 2021--prior to the release of HART emails in response to an open records request by Hawaii News Now--so it does not include this week’s developments:
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Aloha Procurement Collusion Strike Force
May 4, 2021
RE: Bid Rigging at Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
In order to steer a consulting contract to its former Board Chair, Colleen Hanabusa, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), a federally-funded rail transit project, imposed the following narrowly tailored requirements on bidders, as outlined by Hawaii News Now, March 11, 2021:
A law degree and 20 years of legal practice
Minimum 10 years of experience at the city or state
Minimum five years experience at a federal level
See: Award Letter April 27, 2021
See: Scope of Service, February, 2021
At the time, former Honolulu Star-Bulletin editor Ian Lind noted: “Those things together would appear to be written for a certain person. They are so specific.”
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners explains, “Bid-tailoring schemes occur when an employee with procurement responsibilities, often in collusion with a supplier or contractor, tailors bid specifications to give an unfair advantage to a certain contractor.”
On April 27, 2021 HART indeed awarded Hanabusa the contract, with a value ranging between $200-$900K depending on the number of extensions. Hanabusa was the only bidder.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser April 29, 2021, quotes HART board member Natalie Iwasa:
“As far as perceptions, there are going to be people who are concerned about that, given she was a HART chair and a HART board member. As a certified fraud examiner, we also look at whether there was insider information.”
Honolulu Star-Advertiser columnist David Shapiro May 2, 2021, points out:
“The specs for Hanabusa’s contract were written so she was virtually the only person who could qualify, and unsurprisingly, she was the only applicant….
“Unmentioned was that this act Hanabusa figured in was the start of the stinking heap of corruption, mismanagement, incompetence and disinformation rail has come to represent as it morphed from a $5.2 billion commuter line that was supposed to run from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center by 2019 to a $12.5 billion sinkhole that will be lucky to make it to Middle Street by decade’s end.
“Rewarding her with nearly $1 million for helping to kick it all off is the cherry on top of this steaming mound of malfeasance.”
I look forward to seeing your office vigorously prosecute these violations of the Sherman Act.