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Hawaii IT Bills Would Create CDO, Unify Data Management

A new series of bills would create a position for a chief data officer, as well as an associated task force to help develop, manage and implement state data policies.

Data management is an increasingly crucial part of governance, one that many states are making strides to tackle.

In Hawaii, newly introduced legislation would transform the state’s approach to data, creating a position for a chief data officer and an associated task force to develop and manage policies and standards. 

Two sets of companion bills — SB1001 and HB532SB219 and HB531 — were introduced in January with the proposed changes. Both were recently approved by the House Committee on Economic Development and Business, and are currently in the process of further review. 

The legislation aims to make data more manageable for government officials, centralizing all state agencies behind one unified strategy, while also increasing transparency and public access to that data. 

Under the bills, the new CDO would serve with the Office of Enterprise Technology Services, and the associated task force, led by the CDO, would set about developing and implementing data policy for the state. 

State CIO Douglas Murdock described the benefits of the new legislation as "efficient integration, management, governance and storing of data," adding that it would go a long way to help advance IT infrastructure.

Murdock, who replaced outgoing CIO Todd Nacapuy in January, added that the new legislation would mean more efficient data sharing and increased transparency. 

"The ability of state agencies to share each other's data to make better decisions [would be beneficial]. In the end it's about the decisions that we make and not about the data itself," Murdock said. 

In the past, obstacles to efficient data sharing have been diverse, not least of which being siloed government agencies that were “overly protective” of their individual data caches, Murdock said.

With a CDO, however, enforcement of efficient data sharing would be achievable.  

“Having a data officer and a task force allows us to say this is the state's data and the state should be able to use it to make a decision in the different policy areas that might be involved," he said.

Murdock said that the legislation would also hopefully increase government transparency, allowing officials to share new kinds of information with the public that weren't previously available. Hawaii already has an open data portal, but the new legislation would likely expand and improve the kinds of data sets that are accessible, he said.  

"It's been very important in terms of transparency and openness to let the public see what we're doing," the CIO said.

Another crucial part of the new legislation is a requirement that the CDO be responsible for revising and updating the state's IT strategic plan every four years — a requirement not currently in place.

Murdock said he would prefer it if the plan was updated annually but that every four years was a step in the right direction. Due to the constantly evolving nature of technology, a consistently updated approach is necessary, he said. 

Under Nacapuy, a process of IT strategy revision began and is currently in the process of being finished, said Murdock. After the current revisions are complete, the strategy will go before the IT steering committee for further review, he said.  

All in all, the legislative changes and a CDO will help officials face daily challenges in a more organized fashion, the CIO said. 

"Right now those issues come in and out of focus for us as things are happening," he said. "You worry about the day to day. Having somebody who looks at that all the time would be a big benefit." 

Lucas Ropek is a former staff writer for Government Technology.
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