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Hawaii Governor Names Christine Sakuda Next State CIO

Most recently the executive director of the nonprofit Transform Hawaii Government, she will replace Doug Murdock as CIO and lead the state Office of Enterprise Technology Services starting Aug. 5.

Hawaii state Capitol building.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect perspective on the latest version of state Senate Bill 2516.

Christine Sakuda, a veteran of the health-care and digital government nonprofit sectors, is the state of Hawaii’s next chief information officer.
Christine Sakuda
Christine Sakuda

Sakuda was appointed Friday by Gov. Josh Green and will also lead the state Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS). Her first day as CIO will be Aug. 5, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Sakuda replaces Doug Murdock, who retired May 31 after a lengthy career in state and federal government, serving two governors as CIO and spending 25 years in the U.S. Air Force. Tom Ku, who serves as ETS IT services operations officer, stepped in as acting chief information officer and will remain in the role until July 31.

Sakuda was most recently the executive director of Transform Hawaii Government (THG), a position she has had since May 2017. The organization is a nonprofit 501c3 that, per the state, works to help transform digital government services. Prior to THG, Sakuda was the executive director of the Hawaii Health Information Exchange, also a 501c3, for nearly eight years, where she helped develop a statewide health information exchange.

Sakuda also serves as vice chair of the state’s Information Technology Steering Committee.

She may be the first CIO to serve under a new organizational structure that would have the CIO report to the state comptroller, rather than the governor. It was created by state Senate Bill 2516, which is now awaiting Green’s signature. The bill passed the state Senate 25-0 and cleared the House 48-0, with three members excused.

The legislation reaffirms the Office of Enterprise Technology Services as a division within the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS). The governor would continue to appoint the CIO, and set his or her salary, according to the legislation.

It’s important that the reach and influence of the state CIO span across all agencies, given the need for a technology and innovation strategy that spans all of state government, Sakuda said in her role as THG executive director, in a March 14 letter to the House Labor and Government Operations Committee.

The CIO “must integrate the needs and functional areas across state agencies, departments, and divisions; and to do so, it is important for the CIO role to maintain a high level of stature in state government,” Sakuda said in the letter. Green has until July 10 to sign or veto SB 2516 — after which point, it becomes law without his signature.

Sakuda earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Santa Clara University in 1991 and an MBA from the University of Hawaii Mānoa Shidler College of Business Administration in 1997, according to the governor’s office.