Advances in good government require smart thinking and crisp execution, but a little bit of luck doesn’t hurt.

1st Place Winners- LoveMilkTea

The 2017 Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC) appeared to have had plenty of all three on Aug. 26 when it kicked off at the East-West Center’s Keoni Auditorium.

The month-long team competition saw hundreds of computer programmers, software developers, and tech-minded innovators rally to the state’s challenge to form teams and lend their collective creativity toward improving state government.

Organizers bet big that teams combining a mixture of tech-savvy students, amateurs and professionals would be up to the daunting task of building innovative solutions that could transform the way state government does business, with an eye toward a more efficient, accessible and transparent future.

“The Hawaii Annual Code Challenge is a great opportunity to bring citizens together with government to collaboratively come up with solutions that make Hawaii better,” said Burt Lum, executive director of Hawaii Open Data. “It was amazing what the teams came up with and talent that exists here, especially with our students. We hope to expand this event into more high schools to drive civic engagement and innovation throughout our state.”

A team of University of Hawaii students that called themselves “LoveMilkTea” took first place in the competition with a “wayfinding” mobile app for their campus at Manoa, which often can be difficult for new students and visitors to navigate. The team produced a handy wayfinding app to make it easier to locate buildings on the sprawling University of Hawaii campus.

Second place went to another team of UH students that called themselves “FidgetSpinners,” which presented a mobile-friendly, searchable Hawaii Revised Statutes app.  Coming in third was “The-Progress-Bars,” a community team that presented a dashboard showing where grant money from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs is being allocated. The top high school team was called “No-Internet,” which featured Waipahu High School students who presented an app that would allow the Office of Elections to more conveniently schedule volunteers for training online instead of relying on phone calls.

In coordinating the event, the state Office of Enterprise Technology Services worked closely with the High Technology Development Corporation, the local nonprofit Hawaii Open Data, and various state agencies seeking innovative ways to improve government services.

Working in conjunction with the State Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), Gov. David Ige will kick off the return of the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC) on Saturday, August 26, at the East-West Center on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus.

The annual government-sponsored hackathon encourages State of Hawaii departments and community members to collaborate in solving pressing day-to-day administrative challenges at government offices. Solutions generated at the HACC have the potential to improve government services by expediting data processing and coordination efforts to benefit the people of Hawaii.

At the August kickoff event, departments will present their hurdles to participating coding teams. Developers will then be given one month to engineer applications addressing the specific government-service needs of the state government department they choose to assist. The competition culminates with presentations from finalists on September 23.

Besides providing solutions benefitting government and citizens, hackathons such as the HACC play an important role in developing tech talent statewide. The HACC brings together multidisciplinary experience in app development, as well as entrepreneurial skill building, as teams market customized concepts to a potential client: state government.

Students, independent organizations and professionals are invited to compete in the next HACC. For more information and to enter, visit

If coding isn’t your expertise but you want to get involved, here are three ways to help:

Pitch in. If you have marketing expertise and a talent for creating compelling presentations, consider helping with the final component of the competition. Advancing teams will have an opportunity to present their concepts to Governor Ige and other distinguished government representatives, allowing them to see the apps in action. You could help with team pitches.

Instahelp. Take just two minutes of your time to help spread word about the HACC by connecting others to the cause. Share this link with your social media followers:

Become a corporate sponsor. Support the HACC’s mission of cultivating Hawaii’s tech talent. Contact Burt Lum of event partner Hawaii Open Data at for more information.

Want to know more about previous solutions presented in the HACC? Click on these links to view presentations from HACC 2016 winners addressing homelessness, O‘ahu Community Correctional Center visitations, and support of locally grown or produced Hawai‘i products.

DevLeague – the only accelerated-learning boot camp for aspiring coders in Hawaii – is expanding its curriculum offerings from one offering to four to address the increase in market demand for IT-related jobs. DevLeague identified these new offerings (or tracks) due, in part, to the state of Hawaii’s growing needs in these “hot market” arenas.

To support the growth of a diverse, technologically savvy workforce, each track has a specific focus: Enterprise Software, Big Data, and Cyber Security.

The Enterprise Software Development track emphasizes training individuals in building critical infrastructure with a focus on utilizing cloud storage and computing. The course will teach the newest technology being introduced into the enterprise landscape.

The Big Data track is designed to leverage information that is collected and stored every day. Through analysis and database design, students are educated on how to track, monitor, predict and gain intelligence that can enhance how businesses serve people and communities.

The last of the three new tracks focuses on a subject of increasing importance in our technology filled world: Cyber Security. With the State of Hawaii continuing to bolster its efforts to combat cyber attacks, the additional Cyber Security track will help boot-camp coders better protect Hawaii IT systems as future members of a well-trained, knowledgeable workforce.

All of these new tracks are offered in addition to the current track of Web Engineering, which teaches students about web development in the programming language JavaScript.

Now in its fourth year, DevLeague reports that 86 percent of the students in its programs find a job in Hawaii after graduating. Given its track record for training and placing talent and the knowledge transfer from its courses to Hawaii’s digital workforce, it appears DevLeague will be an increasingly important part of the local IT ecosystem.

For more information, visit their website.

Legislation has been introduced in the 2017 session of the Hawaii Legislature that would build on the successful outcomes of the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge held last fall. At the Code Challenge, local programmers and the community came together to develop digital tools and applications to solve problems facing state government, including addressing homeless issues, prison visitations, and connecting consumers to locally produced materials, services, and products, as well as helping students apply to UH System colleges and find scholarships and internships.

The legislation, House Bill No. 1329, would provide modest but meaningful support to help programmers move their applications from the proof of concept stage into prototypes for eventual production. Passing this bill would be an important signal of the state’s commitment to technology development.

Testify in Support of Local Programmers and the Community Transforming State Government

To submit testimony, you’ll need to create an account as a legislative website user. You can do this by going to the web form and filling in the necessary information on this page. Once you are registered and logged in, when the home page launches, you will see three icons labeled “Submit Testimony”, “Hearing Notification” and “Measure Tracking.” Click on “Hearing Notification” and in the box “Subscribe by Measure” type in HB1329 (no spaces). When the bill is schedule for a hearing, you will be notified. At that time you can sign in to the website and click on the Submit Testimony icon to submit your testimony.


MN New

With a mission “to improve Minnesota state government services every day by solving problems that change lives,” the Office of Continuous Improvement (MNCI) was established in 2007.

Leveraging proven continuous improvement tools and methodologies – including Lean, Six Sigma; Total Quality Management; and others – MNCI supports 24 cabinet-level executive branch agencies in building a culture of continuous improvement “to empower employees and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government services for Minnesota.”

Among other things, MNCI monitors and rewards IT-driven productivity by state employees, holding an annual awards ceremony to recognize individuals and groups within the state who drive change using technology. All state agencies are encouraged to participate by nominating projects that have increased the efficiency, quality and value of state government services.

Last year, the Minnesota Department of Transportation won the MNCI award for utilizing drones to inspect bridges, decreasing inspection time by three days and saving the state money that would have been spent on inspection equipment and traffic control.

Such focus on innovation and continuous improvement – including rewarding employees and organizations for improving their own work processes – helps to create a culture where change is not only accepted, but embraced. It also saves taxpayer money, reduces citizen inconveniences and optimizes state employees’ ability to do their job.

The State of Hawai‘i would do well to seek out additional opportunities for integrating continuous improvement approaches into its effort to transform the way it does business. Encouraging innovative changes from the inside out, starting with state employees, will help Hawai‘i realize significant and lasting change that benefits all stakeholders.




IT security, or cybersecurity, an area identified as a critical need in state government, ensures vital information on the state’s financial and other systems is protected. Cybersecurity also ensures there are robust safeguards for data containing information on state employees and members of the public who may interact with state government in a variety of ways, from paying taxes to applying for camping permits.

When putting together its supplemental budget request for the 2016 legislative session, the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) placed a high priority on cybersecurity. And the agency saw the most pressing security need to be the addition of skilled security specialists.

What’s a CISO?

In particular, ETS wanted to secure a state chief information security officer (CISO) to establish security standards and to ensure the state stays current with best practices in security. Without a CISO to develop and lead a comprehensive statewide cyber security program, the state could face an increasing risk of successful cyber attacks. The Legislature agreed, and in addition to the CISO, added two new cybersecurity positions.

Each day, the state network experiences millions of potential Internet security threats, and the number continues to grow. Cyber attacks that succeed can result in millions of dollars in damage and expenses. States that experience security breaches are required to not only repair the system damage and restore network safety, but they must also determine if any confidential data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), was exposed, in which case notifications must be issued. Developing a skilled and knowledgeable workforce in-house goes a long way to addressing risk.

Making Network Security Comprehensive and Cost-Effective

Consistent with industry practice, ETS typically does not disclose details of its cybersecurity strategies and tools — for obvious reasons.

But ETS recently shared with THG leadership that the state has established new partnerships with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to leverage federal expertise and resources to secure the state government network. ETS is also pursuing the most cost-effective solutions for Hawaii’s cybersecurity needs by providing additional training to state employees. Training employees enables the state to shift a majority of security work previously done by contractors to skilled state personnel.

Cybersecurity is an area where CIO Todd Nacapuy has said the state can do the job even more effectively in-house, without relying unnecessarily on external contractors. Allocating resources in this manner provides a positive return on investment in cybersecurity and all state IT projects, while delivering benefits to system security and workforce development, as well as reducing the cost of operations.

SB2807 ENTERPRISE TECHNOLOGY SERVICE — Creates the Office of Enterprise Technology Services under the direction of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) by consolidating the Office of Information Management and Technology and the Information and Communication Services Division of the Department of Accounting and General Services, including all related information technology functions.

  • Update: The House Finance Committee unanimously voted to recommend passage of SB2807 by the full House. If it passes the floor vote, it will then go to the governor. 

SB2541 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY — Authorizes the State CIO to use or transfer funds, appropriated in the 2015 State Budget Act, to executive departments and agencies for projects that have been approved by the governor.

  • Update: Enrolled to governor on April 13 and became Act 11 on April 21.

HB2755 INCIDENT RESPONSE  Requires the CIO to develop and maintain an incident response plan to cyber-attacks for each executive branch department in the State. Sets out the scope of an incident response plan.

  • Update: HB2755 Failed to pass out of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

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The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) has launched two new search tools that encourage recycling in Hawaii by helping residents locate the nearest Certified Redemption Center in their area. Transform Hawaii Government recently spoke with software developers McKay Davis and George Lee, dedicated volunteers with Code for Hawaii, who developed the tools in partnership with DOH, the Office of Planning and software company ESRI.

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