For federal government legacy IT systems, some of which are 50 years old, an upgrade has become a matter of national security. Caught between the age of international hacks, elections meddling, information breaches and an ever-growing demand for a constituent-centric experience, the White House enacted the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The transformational mandate gives federal CIOs the incentive and resources to migrate their existing information infrastructure and services into more secure mobile apps, digital and cloud-based platforms. Read the full story on The Wall Street Journal

The 2018 legislative session may have adjourned, but the process for a bill to become law is far from over, as the governor has until July 10 to sign bills into law, veto bills, or allow them to become law without his signature.

As mentioned in the last THG newsletter, several pieces of priority legislation succeeded in being passed this year. The governor has until June 25 to decide whether to place any of the bills he has received from the Legislature on his Notice of Intent to Veto list. If a bill is not on the list by that date, the bill cannot be vetoed and will become law with or without the governor’s signature. The governor then has to July 10 to either veto the bill or let it become law.

Among the hundreds of bills awaiting action (or inaction) by the governor, here are the bills THG has been tracking:

  • HB2607, Relating to Education, requiring the Department of Education to develop and implement a statewide computer science curricula plan for public school students in K-12 and ensure each public high school offers at least one computer science course each school year.
  • HB2395, Relating to Electronic Filing, authorizing the Hawaii Department of Taxation to require certain taxpayers to file returns electronically, subject to exceptions for reasonable cause as provided by administrative rules.
  • HB2651, Relating to Wireless Broadband Facilities, establishing a process to upgrade and support next generation wireless broadband infrastructure throughout the State.
  • HB2373, Relating to the Sharing of Vital Statistics Records with Department of Health Program Employees for Approved Research Purposes, authorizing the Department of Health to disclose public health statistics records internally within the Department of Health for approved research purposes.

HCR 94, a concurrent resolution that does not require the governor’s signature, asks the state’s IT Steering Committee to submit a State Government IT Strategic Plan to the Legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of next session. Development of the plan is tasked to the IT Steering Committee and provides the opportunity to chart the course for further improving the delivery of programs and services to citizens, businesses and those working in state government.

HACC community partners take a photo with Gov. David Ige. Photo courtesy of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services.

Earlier this month, CIO Todd Nacapuy accepted StateScoop.com’s State IT Innovation award on behalf of the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC). StateScoop annually honors outstanding state innovators, up-and-coming leaders as well as tech-based projects used to make the delivery of services more convenient to residents.

“As a proud sponsor of the 2017 Hawaii Annual Code Challenge, Transform Hawaii Government congratulates CIO Todd Nacapuy and his community co-partner Hawaii Open Data, for putting on the successful and innovative event, which provided the tech-minded development community with the opportunity to test their skills at coming up with creative solutions to government challenges,” said Christine Sakuda, THG executive director. “As a nonprofit coalition dedicated to promoting an open, transparent and responsive government, we recognize the ‘HACC’ as an outstanding example of how the state can engage the community in a meaningful way to streamline, integrate and deliver state services to meet and exceed the expectations of the public and Hawaii’s businesses, while helping to build Hawaii’s IT workforce.”

The State IT Innovation of the Year award recognizes win-win state government programs which bridge their constituent’s experience and makes efficient use of data integration for agencies. Hawaii’s hackathon joins notable programs from other states including Georgia Gateway, an integrated multi-program portal for human services; Utah’s Practice Driver License Program, an app to help drivers study for their driver’s license using smartphones and smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home; and Mississippi’s state chatbot called MISSI which uses machine learning to connect inquiries to the proper services. See all winners here.

With more than 300 participants in its sophomore year, the HACC brought together Hawaii’s programming community, state departments and the local tech industry to solve real-world information challenges provided by participating agencies. The month-long competition fostered mentoring for burgeoning coders and created proof of concepts for an app used to navigate within UH Manoa, a grant data visualizer for OHA, and enabling natural language searchability and interpretation of Hawaii’s laws.

The HACC was possible through the collaboration between the State of Hawaii and participating community partners such as Hawaii Open Data, DevLeague, and THG.

Hawaii’s remote geographic location and limited talent pool – while nothing new – have compounded a decades-long hiring challenge for state government. After a highly successful pilot project initiated in 2016, the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) continues its innovative use of the professional social networking site LinkedIn as a tool for attracting top talent.

Besides using the world’s largest social networking platform for business professionals, ETS also changed its paradigm to revamp its employee culture. View this video case study to discover how the agency leveraged LinkedIn to meet and surpass its hiring goals.

For more information, read LinkedIn’s Talent Blog: 4 Ways the Government of Hawaii Modernized its Hiring Process to Attract Tech Talent.

A transparency website is meant to provide the public easy access to information, but it isn’t always updated quickly.

By Courtney Teague

Honolulu Civil Beat — May 8, 2018

Original story: http://www.civilbeat.org/2018/05/hawaii-gets-an-f-for-its-transparency-on-state-government-spending/

 

A measure that would have required the state to publish the formulas used to calculate the financial impact of proposed bills died in the Legislature in the recently adjourned session.

That probably came as no surprise to public interest researchers who say the state government needs to be more open about its spending practices.

Hawaii is among the worst in the nation when it comes to being transparent about the way state government spends its money, according to a new study of state transparency sites.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund gave the Aloha State an F for transparency, two grades lower than the C it received in the last report two years ago. California, Alaska and Wyoming were the only states to score lower.

That’s because the state’s transparency webpage hasn’t updated its spending information since 2016, said Michelle Sirka, tax and budget campaigns director for the PIRG fund. The same is true for budget information on the webpage.

The report also found the webpage was glitch-prone and lacked a multi-tiered search function.

Gov. David Ige’s administration has made strides in improving government accessibility online — such as modernizing the state payroll and tax systems — but there’s more to be done, said Christine Mai‘i Sakuda, head of the nonprofit Transform Hawaii Government. The agency advocates for a more open and transparent government through technology.

Sakuda wondered whether the state has set a plan and priorities for updating information on its website. It’s not just the transparency webpage that contains outdated information, she said.

“Clearly the data not being up is a reflection of no one’s eyes are on that and thought that it was important enough to update, which is unfortunate and not acceptable,” Sakuda said.

Brian Black, head of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, presented testimony on the issue at a meeting before the state’s Information Technology Steering Committee last week. Part of the committee’s role includes developing plans for and assessing state IT systems.

Black’s testimony, drafted after meeting with groups who support accessible data, suggested the state prioritize posting financial, tax and procurement data, plus certain data from the departments of Health, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, and Land and Natural Resources.

He recommended the state educate the public on available data and ensure it’s posted in a timely manner and machine readable format, meaning the file can be easily opened on a computer.

“Providing a central site for electronic data allows the public to find information efficiently,” Black wrote.

The state plans to follow those priorities when revamping its website, said Todd Nacapuy, head of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services, which oversees the transparency webpage.

The spending data won’t be posted to the transparency site in the immediate future, but Laurel Johnston, head of the Department of Budget and Finance, noted it is already posted to her department’s webpage.

“The data is there, it’s just maybe not the way that PIRG or others might want it so they can compare by state,” Johnston said.

The vendor that the Office of Enterprise Technology Services currently uses to host its data, Socrata, is expensive, Nacapuy said. A contract with a new vendor should be finalized within the next month and a half — that’s when the state will start work on posting the latest spending data to its transparency page.

U.S. PIRG wasn’t impressed with Hawaii’s site, but Nacapuy pointed to ETS’s Department Dashboard, which launched this year.

It breaks down a timeline of IT projects by state department and shows the cost, whether they’re on track and its project managers. The dashboard ensures accountability of the state’s IT projects, he said, adding that it’s the first such site in the nation.

Senate Bill 2257 would have required the Department of Taxation to make public the formulas used to calculate the financial impact of a bill. It died two weeks ago in conference committee, where lawmakers from both chambers attempt to work out differences.

The Tax Foundation of Hawaii wrote in testimony that the availability of information about those estimates was “spotty at best.”

“Having the information would be a great step toward openness and transparency in important legislative decisions,” the group wrote.

The Hawaii Community Foundation’s Omidyar Ohana Fund supports Transform Hawaii Government. Pierre Omidyar is the CEO and publisher of Civil Beat.

Additionally, The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest is an independent organization created with funding from Pierre Omidyar. Civil Beat Editor Patti Epler sits on its board of directors.

Featured in THG’s January newsletter, the Hawaii Department Dashboard now has a new, more user-friendly look. A first of its kind in the nation, the dashboard tracks more than 400 IT projects across State of Hawaii departments and agencies that account for nearly half a billion dollars in annual IT spend, according to the Office of Enterprise Technology Services.

 

The dashboard is accessible to the public and can be found at The Hawaii Department Dashboard or by visiting ets.hawaii.gov and scrolling to the bottom of the webpage.

Facebook is still under fire for its failure to safeguard user information from unethical practices of third-party app developers.

 

What happened?

Mark Zuckerberg tesimony congress - Washington Post

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in the U.S. Congress on April 10, 2018. Screenshot from Washington Post.

 

In a nutshell, Facebook had knowingly allowed a third-party developer to improperly collect information and exploit the data of 87 million users to sway voter opinion on political campaigns without their permission.

 

Academic researcher Aleksandr Kogan built a third-party app called thisismydigitallife in 2014 for the sole purpose of collecting data from millions of users through personality quizzes. This was done under the guise that the harvested information would be used for academic purposes. Thisismydigitallife went viral and its users inadvertently gave the API permission to access their profiles, as well as their friends’ information. (At the time, Facebook rules allowed third-party apps to do this. However, the company put a stop to collecting friends’ information the same year.)

 

Kogan later shared this private information to Cambridge Analytica which mined the people’s data to create user psychography profiles and used it for electionioneering purposes such as Britain’s Brexit campaign and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

 

How does this affect you?

Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook’s Hard Questions Blog, March 21, 2018 https://newsroom.fb.com/

 

Facebook had notified users who’s data may have been shared when they used the thisismydigitallife app. In case you missed the notification, read NPR’s: How to Check If Your Facebook Data Was Used By Cambridge Analytica and click here to check your status. You must be logged onto your Facebook profile to see results.

 

To see which State of Hawaii government agencies currently use Facebook and other social media platforms to engage constituents, visit this helpful link.

9th Annual STEM Conference group shot. Photo courtesy of Maui Economic Development Board.

 

Transform Hawaii Government proudly supported the 9th Annual Hawaii STEM Conference — Hawaii’s largest Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) event for students. The event was presented by STEMworks™ earlier this month.

 

More than 1,000 students, teachers, and innovators gathered for the two-day regional conference at Oahu’s Hawaii Convention Center on April 10 and 11, 2018.

 

“The Hawaii STEM Conference is more than just a high-tech conference for awesome nerds and geeks,” said Leinaala Kealoha, a teacher at Kauai High School. “I was enlightened to the paradigm shift necessary for our youth to thrive in this ever-changing society; moreover, regardless of their career path, both students and teachers can gain valuable and indispensable skills by indulging in STEM. It’s not just an elective or hobby, it’s a way of life.”

 

The annual STEM conference was put together by STEMworks™, a program of the Maui Economic Development Board’s (MEDB) Women in Technology initiative. STEMworks™ is a service-learning initiative dedicated to bolster interest and motivate K-12 students and underrepresented groups in pursuing STEM careers.

 

“THG gladly supports the mission of the conference in making STEM education into an enjoyable, practical, and fun endeavor. Hawaii’s government IT transformation depends on what we can do today to streamline backend operations for better services. Securing our state government’s technological future also depends on nurturing the interest of youth in tech so they can leverage opportunities to stay in the islands when they enter the workforce” said Christine Sakuda, executive director of Transform Hawaii Government.

 

The 9th Annual STEM Conference focused on engaging students from across the state and building their tech skills, invigorating interest in the field via hands-on activities, and in connecting with industry professionals.

 

Photo courtesy of Maui Economic Development Board.

Students create technology by building a Piper Computer. Pictured left to right: Shairene Bayle (Maui Waena Intermediate, 6th grade), Jacelyn Yun (Maui Waena Intermediate, 6th grade), Seamus Talosa (Farrington High, 11th grade), and Sienna Rocoma (Maui Waena Intermediate, 6th grade). Photo courtesy of Maui Economic Development Board.

Split between two days, the conference featured a robust agenda of more than 61 hands-on student workshops, multiple software competitions, a formal awards banquet recognizing STEM service learning projects, a 5X5 speed networking session with industry professionals, as well as 25 professional development sessions for teachers.

 

“It’s always rewarding to see and hear how this conference has touched lives by empowering our youth. Whether they choose to pursue a STEM career or another field, experiences during this conference will encourage them to be self-directed learners, to be resilient, to stay current and be adaptive to change. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all those who made this event possible – our event’s sponsors, industrial professionals, participating students and teachers, volunteers and our dedicated MEDB staff,” said Leslie Wilkins, MEDB President and CEO.

 

In addition to Transform Hawaii Government, the 9th Annual Hawaii Stem Conference was sponsored by Creative Industries Hawaii/DBEDT, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of Hawaii Foundation – Mike Lyons Maui Community Award, Microsoft, Verizon, Hawaii Energy/Blue Planet Foundation, Hawaiian Electric Company, SketchUp, Hawaii Geographic Information Coordinating Council, Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation, USS Bowfin Submarine/Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association, Sempra Renewables and Engie.

 

This year, the State of Hawaii’s four-decade-old mainframe payroll system will transition to a modern payroll software and processes utilizing PeopleSoft. Involving more than 70,000 payments each payroll cycle, the modernization project will provide employees with updated toolsets and training.

According to the Department of Accounting and General Services, the new system will enable payroll and human resources staff to process information using up-to-date technology, resulting in less manual processing. Increased efficiency will provide more time for employees to work on other priority tasks such as analytical activities. When fully implemented, employee self-service capabilities will include:

 

  • Setting up direct deposit distributions
  • Managing federal and state tax withholding allowances
  • Updating payroll mailing addresses and emergency contacts
  • Viewing and printing pay statements and W-2 tax forms

 

“Payroll and human resources staff have been working closely with project staff the last few months to test the system and learn the new processes,” said Chief Information Officer Todd Nacapuy, whose office is assisting DAGS with the modernization effort.

 

The rollout of the system is being scheduled in three phases:

  1. April/May – Department of Human Resources Development and the Department of Accounting and General Services and its attached agency
  2. July/August – Remaining jurisdictions, departments, and agencies statewide except for Department of Education and the University of Hawaii system
  3. October/November – Department of Education and the University of Hawaii system

THG will monitor the progress of the project and keep members apprised. Additional information is available on the project website and will be provided in future editions of THG’s newsletter.

Concurrent resolution demands a State IT Strategic Plan

 

On April 16, Chair Glenn Wakai (right), from the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology, receives testimony on HCR 94, from THG Executive Director Christine Sakuda (second from left).

 

After receiving a strong showing of support from Transform Hawaii Government (THG) and other advocates, the Hawaii Legislature has adopted a concurrent resolution requesting the development of an information technology (IT) strategic plan for Hawaii state government. THG’s Board of Directors, Leadership Committee, and coalition members were among those who submitted testimony in support of the resolution.

 

HCR 94 asks the state’s IT Steering Committee to submit the strategic plan, along with recommendations and any necessary supporting legislation, to the Legislature no later than 20 days prior to the convening of next session. Development of the plan provides the opportunity to acknowledge and document progress achieved thus far, as well as chart the course to further improve the delivery of programs and services to citizens, businesses and those working in state government.

 

“Our state’s data remains decentralized and inaccessible, limiting the opportunities for integration and achieving our state goals,” said THG Executive Director Christine Sakuda. “I therefore strongly support this resolution requesting that the IT Steering Committee take an active role in developing the state IT strategic plan, including consideration of model legislation from other states and industry best practices to establish a state data strategy.”

 

As featured in past THG newsletters, while progress has been made since the Legislature established the position of the state Chief Information Officer (CIO), a long-term IT strategic plan has yet to be adopted. With hundreds of millions of dollars invested in modernizing and maintaining the state’s multitude of IT systems each year, such a plan is necessary to:

  • Improve the delivery of programs and services to citizens, businesses and within state government offices;
  • Maximize our state’s potential for greater accountability, efficiency, and transparency in the use of taxpayer dollars;
  • Best secure protected data and critical infrastructure; and
  • Sufficiently empower our state’s workforce to meet the demands of an increasingly technology-dependent workplace.

 

By naming the IT Steering Committee, the resolution recognizes that advising the state chief information officer (CIO) in developing the IT standards and policies, including but not limited to assisting the CIO in developing and implementing the state IT strategic plans, is already within the committee’s statutorily mandated duties.

 

The IT Steering Committee is scheduled to meet in May, when it is anticipated members will determine the next steps to fulfill the Legislature’s request.  As Sakuda is a member of the IT Steering Committee, THG members will be provided first-hand insight into the committee’s progress. Watch for future updates in upcoming editions of THG’s monthly newsletter.

 

Other Priority Legislation

This session, THG launched its Priority Legislation webpage to serve as a resource to coalition members and like-minded individuals who wish to advocate for 2018 legislation that promotes an open, transparent and responsive Hawaii government. The status of measures is updated regularly on the page, and many THG coalition members responded to alert messages with testimony when bills were scheduled for hearings.

 

One such bill is House Bill 2395 SD1, Relating to Electronic Filing, which has been passed by the Legislature and transmitted to the governor. If enacted, HB 2395 will authorize the Hawaii Department of Taxation to require certain taxpayers to file returns electronically, subject to exceptions for reasonable cause as provided by administrative rules. While some business users may be reluctant to go paperless, such progress is inevitable as electronic filing becomes the norm at both the state and federal levels. Strong encouragement to use the new electronic functionality of the new system is critical to maximize positive return on investment and realize the cost-efficiencies associated with filing electronically the state and businesses alike will enjoy over the long-term.

 

Adjournment of the Legislature (a.k.a., “Sine Die”) is Thursday, May 3, 2018. The governor has until July 10 to veto a bill, sign it into law, or allow it become law without his signature.