One of the first acts of Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia as the newly appointed CIO of Hawaii was to embark on an extensive information gathering effort that would inform a statewide IT inventory. Roughly 1,500 pages of notes fed into the final report, published in September 2011.
The state found that it was using 700 different applications to deliver more than 200 services. Approximately 150 of those services were being delivered directly to the public.
In an interview with Government Technology, Bhagowalia describes the inventory as a critical first step in laying the groundwork for a transformative IT strategy to guide not only technology policy, but business processes across the state.
Photo: Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, CIO, Hawaii
IT services in Hawaii are fragmented in different departments throughout the organization, and technology is often woefully outdated. A “MacGyver Award”, referencing the popular television law enforcement agent known for cleverly using everyday materials to solve pressing problems, is given to employees who make do with aging technology tools long past their prime. In one example, the CIO explains that staff members kept an old system alive for 36 years buying parts on eBay.
While Bhagowalia applauds the efforts of the workforce to maintain service levels without proper resources, he looks forward to a more modern enterprise.
“Clearly there are a lot of challenges, but I relish the idea that Hawaii has chosen to do it right and I've been entrusted to try to make it happen.”
By the Numbers: Uniting IT in the Aloha State
“Clearly broadband is a key technology for us in Hawaii,” he said.
The prospects of putting such an ambitious plan in motion are encouraging. Skeptics told the CIO he’d have trouble securing his initial budget request of $25.3 million from the Legislature. In the end, the allocation was granted, earmarked for the ERP system, pilot projects and other foundational technology infrastructure.
“Our strategy is to have an overarching vision that unites us, and have a disciplined framework to make it happen,” Bhagowalia said.
Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.