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Amendment to the City Charter
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Amendment to the City Charter

There will be one charter amendment on the November ballot. The Honolulu City Council proposes to amend the Charter to establish an independent Office of the City Auditor. The Council feels there is a demand for greater accountability in government that leads to a need for information about government programs and services. Currently, in addition to research on behalf of the Council, the Council's Office of Council Services (OCS) employs an auditor. This individual conducts mandated yearly financial and performance audits of all agencies, operations, and funds of the City as well as any audits the City Council requests. If the amendment passes the audit functions will be taken over by an independent auditor. The Auditor will also be given authority to independently initiate audits as well as the power of subpoena.

The City Council argues that an independent auditor will strengthen the auditing function in City government. Except for the mandated yearly audits any other audit only occurs when a majority of the Council agrees. This amendment will remove audit functions completely from the City Council and OCS, vesting all the authority necessary to initiate audits, as well as conduct the yearly audits, in one individual. Supporters believe that an independent auditor with power to initiate investigations will hold agencies and programs of the City to the highest standard of accountability.

Arguments in opposition to this proposal are primarily financial in nature. Establishing an independent auditor means authorizing the additional costs associated with setting up an office and hiring staff separate from OCS. The current auditor, an employee in OCS, benefits from the secretarial services provided by OCS staff. An independent auditor will also lose the current auditor's ability to draw on the subject matter expertise of the professional staff of OCS.

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