Transforming Government


The transformation of government in Hawaii

The State of Hawaii has for the first time a full-time Chief Information Officer, Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, who is leading the modernization of the state’s IT infrastructure and systems. Specialists are completing an assessment of technology across the state as a foundation for creating a strong technology backbone capable of supporting and enhancing state services.

Key Next Steps:

  • Redesign the state’s IT architecture with the goal of coordinating central and individual agency information technology and information resource management with standards that are in line with the industry’s best practices
  • Develop a statewide strategic plan that capitalizes on our ability to reduce redundant systems and purchases throughout the state’s 18 departments
  • Reduce costs, foster innovation, provide convenient services to taxpayers, make government more accessible and transparent,  and ensure security with minimal disruption to users, and more closely align information technology with the business needs of the state
  • Enhance systems to provide the required levels of security to safeguard data with minimal disruption to users


Wise management of the taxpayers’ dollars

Lieutenant Governor Brian Schatz has led the Fair Share Initiative across all departments to bring millions of additional federal dollars to Hawaii and apply for millions more. The Tax Department changed its operational procedures to prioritize the processing of tax filings. The Tax Department also ended a costly contract while restructuring staff and internal processes to ensure that services were uninterrupted. The Administration reprioritized spending to expenses critical to government’s core functions. It also has not issued any new debt since January 2010, saving millions of taxpayer dollars.

Key Next Steps:

  • Establish a formal Chief Financial Officer structure within the state to align financial planning and fiscal operations
  • Recapitalize reserves in the Hurricane Relief Fund and the Rainy Day Fund over the next couple of years
  • Develop an action to find solutions for our long-term unfunded liabilities in the state’s pension system and for health insurance benefits for state and county employees and retirees
  • Modernize the Tax Department by streamlining and moving processes online
  • Plan for potential reduction or revisions in the amount of federal funds coming to Hawaii and identify programs that might be affected


21st Century practices for 21st Century government

DAGS made changes to make government more efficient, including reducing 15 percent of phone lines across the state that saves hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The state is also in the process of consolidating office space and reducing commercial office leases.

Key Next Steps:

  • Establish a formal Chief Operating Officer within state government to oversee daily government operations, including maintenance of state buildings and grounds; planning, design and construction of public works; centralized accounting, auditing and purchasing
  • Re-establish programs of employee training and counseling and update the state’s employment policies and procedures, led by a refocused Department of Human Resources Development
  • Renovate key vacant state-owned buildings, such as the Kamamalu Building in downtown Honolulu and the Lihue Courthouse, to reduce rent
  • Seek input from small businesses and other stakeholders on reforming the procurement code


Government belongs to the people

The Administration ended the two-day-a-month furloughs that resulted in a 10 percent decrease in base pay for public workers and shut down of services for the public. DLIR launched a new effort to provide residents of Hawaii’s most rural areas with direct access to government and community resources, making it easier for those who live in remote communities to receive the services they expect.

Key Next Steps:

  • Develop innovative methods to centralize and consolidate professional licensing functions statewide
  • Improve public access to information about businesses
  • Facilitate the formation of new businesses
  • Eliminate confusion on business licensing in Hawaii
  • Expand the Rural Services Outreach Initiative that brings together government agencies, community groups, nonprofits and businesses


A focus on core missions

In the wake of the tsunami in March, our citizen soldiers, airmen and public servants secured state facilities and provided support to county agencies, federal organizations, businesses and citizens. The State Civil Defense coordinated subsequent federal disaster assistance with the Small Business Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help Hawaii residents and business owners affected by the tsunami. Also in March, we mobilized resources in response to flooding, landfill closures, and power outages. State Civil Defense is also working with federal, county, the Hawaii National Guard, and non-government organizations in preparing a security plan for the APEC meeting.

Key Next Steps:

  • Support community preparedness planning through faith-based organizations and other civic groups
  • Modernize the Outdoor Siren Warning System statewide, including 186 sirens
  • Improve emergency communications, including installing the Hawaii Homeland Security Surveillance system at Maui harbors, upgrading Kauai’s radio system, and establishing a statewide strategic communication reserve with radio and satellite devices
  • Help state agencies and private sector develop their own “Continuity of Operations (COOP) Plan” to strengthen preparedness, response to and recovery from a disaster
  • Implement viable disaster recovery for IT so the state can continue business operations with minimal interruption in the event of natural or man-made disasters
  • Strengthen security and threat assessment in the state by expanding the capacity and role of the Fusion Center, which brings together federal, state and county emergency responders