Modernizing state government for better public service

Posted on Dec 30, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main

After decades of relying on antiquated, paper-based systems, the Ige administration has modernized many government operations across multiple state departments to better serve the public. The Department of Taxation’s (DoTAX) new software upgrade is more user-friendly, more secure and speedier. DoTAX also went after noncompliant vacation rentals, collecting $33.7 million in taxes, interest and penalties. The department also launched a new initiative during the pandemic to help young people find jobs in state agencies like DoTAX. Hawai‘i college students were hired as paid interns and trained on the job, with the potential for permanent employment upon graduation.

About 13,000 employees in the executive and legislative branches and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs are using the recently completed electronic time and leave system, replacing the 40-year-old, labor-intensive paper approach. The Office of Enterprise Technology Services and the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS) worked to improve the legacy system as part of Governor Ige’s priority to modernize state government. The state also was able to consolidate its contributions to the public pension and health benefit funds, growing investments by millions of dollars and saving future taxpayer contributions of up to half a billion dollars over the next 20 years as well as maintain solid credit ratings.

This image of a Honolulu street scene is from the Hawai‘i State Digital Archives, a free online repository of historic records.

This image of a Honolulu street scene is from the Hawai‘i State Digital Archives, a free online repository of historic records.

Making public records public – In another major DAGS project, the Hawai‘i State Digital Archives loaded 3.5 million pages of archival records into a free, online repository for year-round public access. On Queen Lili‘uokalani’s birthday, Sept. 2, the Archives also unveiled its bilingual interface (English and ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i) so the public can search for historic records at any time in their language preference without the need to leave the safety of their homes. This project was so successful at connecting the public to their documentary heritage, it was named one of the top 75 state websites by Family Tree Magazine. To learn more, visit https://digitalarchives.hawaii.gov.

To further serve the public, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs helped to protect utility customers from having their services disconnected due to non-payment with a one-year moratorium through May 2021.In addition, the consumer advocate worked with other state agencies and community organizations to help the most vulnerable community members. DCCA also improved several agencies’ online processes to improve access for both consumers and licensees.

The pandemic also significantly increased the volume and scope of work in the Department of the Attorney General, as the office assisted the governor and other state departments in drafting emergency proclamations, investigating travel self-quarantine violations and advising agencies on safe practices.

Read more in the January Capitol Connection newsletter.

Subscribe to the Capitol Connection newsletter.