The State released its report today on the false missile alert January 13th. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.
Governor David Ige announced the suspension of all state ballistic missile alert testing until a comprehensive strategic plan is implemented by the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency,
“I will be asking and sending a Governor’s Message to the State Legislature asking for just over $2-million, funding required to build capacity in the Hawai’i Emergency Management Agency.”
The Governor says the money will be used to develop a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear annex, reorganize HI-EMA and conduct a public education campaign. Hawai’i National Guard Brigadier General Kenneth Hara prepared the All Hazards Improvement Plan, which highlighted a failure of senior leadership at HI-EMA prior to the January 13th false missile alert.
“What we found was there were issues with performance, especially in the State Warning Point. Those issues were addressed to middle management. They did some counseling; they did not do what we call progressive discipline and more importantly, those issues weren’t elevated to administrator and the executive officer.”
Big Island Mayor Harry Kim served on Hara’s core team. He opposed the missile alert plan in letters to Hi-EMA last year and supports a leadership overhaul.
“We have a management problem. I pointed it out and it is in writing. First time I pointed it out was July. I’m extremely glad that the Governor is not wavering on the commitment to do what is right. I pointed out to him that my priority is get good people on board, ASAP; address the management problem that is there; nothing will be fixed unless those things are fixed.”
Kim has recommended a retired senior military officer to fill the administrator’s position and will assist that person in any way he can. Governor Ige says the selection process is underway.
“I’m looking to ensure that we hire the best leader we can find. We are in the process of accepting applications and, hopefully, we can be—in the next few days—being able to identify a leader.”
For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.