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Hawaii Plans for 12-Year Tech Transformation

A 12-year plan set to change the way Hawaii approaches technology and business practices across the entire enterprise was announced by the State Office of Information Management and Technology.

Hawaii announced on Thursday, Oct. 4, its plans for a major overhaul to the state's approach to technology that will be implemented over the next 12 years. Having just appointed its first chief information officer in 2011, Hawaii recognized that a large-scale effort was needed. The state spends only 1.4 percent of the annual budget on technology, while most states invest at least 2 to 3 percent, and industry best practices suggest spending between 3 and 5 percent of the annual budget to be the most efficient.

The plan, led by the State Office of Information Management and Technology (OIMT) is called the Technology/Information Resource Management (IT/IRM) Transformation Plan. It includes three major components — streamlining the state's 743 discrete agencies, using shared services across the enterprise, and establishing an oversight policy to properly manage the entire organization. The first two years of the 12-year project are set aside for planning.

“This transformation plan will leverage modern technologies and streamline business processes to improve the delivery of government programs and services to the people of Hawaii, which is one of the key initiatives of the New Day Plan,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said in a press release. “We now have a course towards transforming how government delivers programs and services to the public.”

The state got a head start on its plan last year when the Department of Taxation (DoTAX) began aligning itself with the transformation plan by updating check cashing and tax return methods. The changes in some cases led to a doubling of the number of people who used services, according to the state.

The state also has its sights set on improving broadband access so that people have the infrastructure to use the services provided by the state. The general goal set by the state is a gigabit-per-second statewide broadband speed by 2018.

CIO Sonny Bhagowalia emphasized the importance of planning when it comes to large-scale upgrades like the ones Hawaii seeks. “It’s doable, which is why we’re trying to bring some discipline into the process,” he said about the broadband upgrade project. “Program management, the concept of governance, the concept of dashboards to show progress, leading and lagging indicators — these are the things we need to put together. We don’t want the Wild West and people doing their own thing.”

The transformation plan also is expected by to help state employees by upgrading their skill sets and providing more job opportunities. “Making government more efficient and effective brings opportunities to those who work in state offices, enabling employees to provide a higher level of service, while gaining new skills and playing a key role in reshaping the way government conducts business,” Abercrombie said.