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Hawaii Bill Would Create IT Consolidation Working Group

If state lawmakers in Hawaii pass legislation to create the group, members will consolidate the state’s executive branch information technology services and staff within five years.

Aerial view of a beach in Hawaii.
To consolidate Hawaii’s executive branch IT services and staff, state lawmakers propose creating a “Technology Services Consolidation Working Group” through a new bill.

According to the legislation, the process will take five years to complete and focus on creating a more efficient and secure use of technology and information management.

It will also ensure that the state complies with regulatory requirements for accessibility, information storage, data sharing and security, and that it identifies specific positions and functions to be transferred in each department and makes recommendations to attract IT professionals to the state.

Group members will include the state chief information officer, the head of each principal executive branch department and any other person that the chief administrative officer asks to be a part of the working group.

As for the bill’s origins, Sen. Sharon Moriwaki, D-012, shared how her experience of working in state government influenced her decision to sponsor the legislation.

“I’m the chair of what’s called the Senate Government Operations Committee,” Moriwaki said. “When I came on board, I started looking at ways to make government more efficient and have it use less space.”

During this process, Moriwaki said that she found a lot of space was taken up by boxes of documents, papers and personal protective equipment instead of employees. Another concern she pointed to was outdated technology.

“For example, our state’s unemployment insurance system, if you can call it a legacy system, was so outdated,” Moriwaki explained. “We asked the departments how are you going to respond to the crisis in unemployment insurance because we knew people were going to be out of work.”

State lawmakers have also asked for funding to improve this system, but it’s still a work in progress.

“We have been asking for money to upgrade our system for the last I don’t know how many years, and we haven’t had someone say, ‘OK, we’ll give you money for that,’” Moriwaki added.

Because of such issues, the bill looks to open the door for conversations about centralizing IT services to create a more efficient government.

“Everybody thinks they can do it better than a centralized system because you lose control,” Moriwaki said. “But at least let’s start the conversation; that’s what this bill does.”

As for the state’s current efforts to consolidate services, state CIO Douglas Murdock said the process had been in the works for quite some time before the bill was even proposed.

“Enterprise Technology Services has been consolidating services for a long time,” Murdock said. “So a large part of our role is to bring everything together for the state. But we don’t consolidate everything. A lot of things are what we call federated. They’re done by the departments with, in some cases, our oversight.”

Murdock further expanded on departments’ role in the process, saying, “some departments might want help with program management on their big programs. Other departments might want to run their own programs for a while so they will have time to work through that transition.”

At the end of the day, he said, staff just need to work together.

In regards to the benefits of consolidating services, Murdock said consolidation could increase the capability maturity across the state and reduce the risk of cyber attacks.

In terms of challenges, departments may have to deal with cultural changes, and state lawmakers will have to work around Gov. David Ige stepping down later this year. Because Ige will leave his role on Dec. 5, the current administration will make the plan for the bill, and new leadership will carry it out next year.
Katya Diaz is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.