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Posted on Dec 26, 2019 in Latest Department News

KAPOLEI – The Hawai‘i State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) has been formally re-evaluated by the National Park Service (NPS) and moved from high-risk to a medium-risk recipient of federal funds due to improvements in SHPD’s systems and processes.

NPS, which administers federal funds to SHPD, designated SHPD a high-risk recipient in 2009 Under that designation, NPS exercised a very high level of oversight of SHPD’s operations and performance. SHPD’s federal funds were required to be reviewed by the State’s auditing firm each year from 2009-2017.

SHPD Director Dr. Alan Downer explained, “Under the high-risk designation the Park Service imposed two “Corrective Action Plans” on the division. One of these plans included 43 required improvements to SHPD systems and processes. We have systematically chipped away at this list and are certainly pleased with this recognition of progress.”

SHPD’s substantial progress on the required corrective actions and the reduction of risk status removes the possibility that SHPD will be decertified as a State Historic Preservation Office, which are certified by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. It eliminates the risk that SHPD will lose federal funding made available by Congress to support these offices.

DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “The risk improvement is due to the tireless work of SHPD leadership and staff.  We acknowledge we still have a significant backlog at SHPD, which we are working to reduce through staffing increases, rules updates, and procedural improvements to become more efficient and more responsive.”

The last outstanding requirement under the Corrective Action Plan is a digital data management system. “Thanks to appropriations supported by the Governor and the State Legislature, the division has made substantial progress on developing an integrated digital data management system,” Downer said. “The new Hawai‘i Cultural Resource Information System (HICRIS) is expected to be up and running by next summer for testing, evaluation, and validation.  We expect to have a fully operational system by Spring of 2021.”

The HICRIS will integrate SHPD’s various data bases, records and geographic information into a single platform, making it much easier, less time-consuming, and less labor intensive to do data searches.  The system will automate many processes involving handling of documents, freeing up staff to concentrate on higher value activities.

Case added: “This archaeology and historic preservation work is so important and so interesting, so to folks interested in a career in it, come check SHPD out.”