Honolulu councilwoman seeks audit of rail project

Written by Staff and newswire report
Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART)
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Suggesting that fraud may be the cause of cost overruns, City Council newcomer Heidi Tsuneyoshi is demanding a forensic audit of contracts tied to a plan to build a transit system for Honolulu.

The audit is needed “to determine whether an employee or other person has exploited internal control weaknesses to misappropriate assets or commit other illegal actions,” Tsuneyoshi wrote in a council resolution she filed yesterday.

Some of the biggest names in the rail-construction industry industry have secured contracts on the project from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART). Among the consultants, vendors and suppliers singled out in the resolution are:

  • InfraConsult LLC, program management support, ($11.9 million, awarded on April 20, 2007) ;
  • PB Americas, Inc., engineering consultant ($168 million, awarded on August 24, 2007; and $300 million, awarded on June 30, 2011)
  • GEOLABS Inc., ($1.2 million for drill shaft load testing, awarded on June 30, 2009);
  • Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. ($486 million, awarded on October21, 2009; and $372 million, awarded on March 21, 2011)
  • HDR Engineering, Inc., architectural/engineering services ($5.5 million, awarded on January 12, 2011)
  • Ansaldo Honolulu JV, a railcar manufacturing joint venture of AnsaldoSTS and Hitachi Rail Italy, ($1.4 billion, awarded on March 21, 2011;)
  • AECOM Technical Services Inc. ($3 million for design review, awarded on June 7, 2011;)

The resolution comes just a month after the state’s auditor suggested that inadequate oversight of HDR Engineering, Inc. (HDR) may have contributed to cost overruns in the project. Employees of HDR were given key roles within the transit organization, including top positions overseeing project budget and cost management, in addition to design and construction. HART paid $9.6 million last year for the services of the HDR employees. Messages left by Railway Track & Structures with HDR seeking comment have not been returned.

Estimated costs for the rail project rose to $9.2 billion last year from $5.1 billion in 2012. The project is six years behind schedule. Funding battles for the 20-mile project have been contentious.