Hawai’i’s IT transformation begins now

In the information age, it is simply not an option to allow our state to fall behind by failing to fully utilize the array of technology now available. We would be missing opportunities to make state government and service delivery more efficient and accessible. Worse, we would be shortchanging our youth on their future as competitive participants in the global marketplace.

On Oct. 4, my administration unveiled the State of Hawai‘i Business and Information Technology/Information Resource Management Transformation Plan. This 12-year roadmap leverages modern technologies and streamlines business processes to improve the delivery of government programs and services to the people of Hawai’i, which is one of the key initiatives of my New Day Plan.

On Kaua’i, this means state government will have improved access to timely information about the needs of each community, enabling us to reallocate resources to address the issues that residents care about most.

Our state has not significantly invested in technology for more than three decades. That leaves us more than a generation behind. But transforming Hawai‘i’s $11 billion business enterprise — with 220 business functions and services across 35 distinct lines of business — is an enormous endeavor.

Our Chief Information Officer, Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, and his team developed the Technology Plan after a thorough review of national best practices and lessons learned from other states. It aims to consolidate our 743 fragmented legacy systems into fewer, better integrated enterprise-wide solutions that facilitate improved information sharing. It will also morph today’s chaotic, paper-based and inefficient business environment to a future environment that is more cost-efficient, digital and mobile-accessible.

For example, the state Department of Taxation (DoTAX) has already begun its transformation. In fall 2011, DoTAX upgraded check cashing and tax return processing methods. As a result, during the 2012 tax season more than 280,000 checks were deposited in less than four days, as opposed to 166,000 in 2011 during that same timeframe.

Additionally, nearly 2.7 million tax returns were processed within 14 days, an increase of nearly 900,000 from 2011, and, most dramatically, only 113,113 returns took more than three weeks to process, down by 1.2 million during the previous year.

These efforts also complement the Hawai‘i Broadband Initiative, a major economic development program to provide universal access to affordable high-speed Internet by 2018, as well as a pilot project that the state has launched which aims to equip every public school student with a laptop or electronic tablet device to learn computer skills and be more ready for the jobs of today.

This initiative also calls for leveraging the state’s greatest asset throughout the process — its employees. 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 attaining new skills and playing a role in reshaping the way government conducts business.

At its core, this plan represents not just an investment in technology but in Hawai‘i’s people. We now have a clear course toward transforming how government delivers programs and services and empowering current and future generations to succeed.

I encourage you to read the full Transformation Plan at hawaii.gov/oimt.

• Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s guest column runs every month.


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