New members begin their role in the State's IT Steering CommitteeChief Information Officer Todd Nacapuy swears in First Hawaiian Bank Vice President Michael Nishida and Transform Hawaii Government Executive Director Christine Sakuda as members of the IT Steering Committee.


Transform Hawaii Government would like to announce the appointment of Executive Director Christine Sakuda to the Office of Technology Services’ (ETS) IT Steering Committee.

The IT Steering Committee is a diverse third-party group, separate from ETS, established to advise the State of Hawaii’s Chief Information Officer (CIO). The committee provides critical insight and input related to systemwide technology improvements to state departments.

The working group holds CIO Todd Nacapuy accountable for progress toward accomplishing the objectives of Hawaii’s Information Technology Strategic Plan. This is achieved by routinely evaluating the CIO’s performance and eventually providing a grade for the CIO based on established criteria at the end of 2017 for ETS’ annual report to the Legislature.

“The committee and I are looking forward to having Christine on board to move technology initiatives forward for the benefit of current and future generations of Hawaii,” said Chief Information Officer Todd Nacapuy. “The Ige Administration is pursuing a strategy that focuses on people first, followed by process, then technology. Ms. Sakuda’s leadership positions in various nonprofits will be greatly beneficial in achieving this approach for future implementations.”

Membership to the IT Steering Committee is permitted via appointment. The Committee consists of representatives from large-user departments as well as industry executives selected by the Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Justice.

Representative Scott Saiki appointed THG’s Executive Director. Sakuda began her role with the committee immediately after her installation ceremony on August 24.

See who are the other members of the State of Hawaii’s IT Steering Committee

State Capitol

Governor David Y. Ige is among 38 governors who recently signed a compact to bolster cybersecurity initiatives for their states during the National Governors Association’s (NGA) annual Summer Meeting.

The “Compact to Improve State Cybersecurity” is part of NGA’s cumulative effort called Meet the Threat, an initiative designed to make digital information security a high-level priority among states nationwide.

While rooted in technology, cybersecurity is a critical issue that transcends the boundaries of state IT departments. Hacked information in unlawful hands has the potential to compromise public safety, health and the livelihoods of residents.

Key recommendations from this agreement are expected to establish a framework that will arm states with adequate defenses in the event of a cyberattack. Core foundations covered in the compact include:

  • Creating a cybersecurity governance structure and strategy.
  • Preparing and defending the state from cybersecurity events with an emphasis on a whole-of-state approach as opposed to a departmental issue.
  • Growing the nation’s cybersecurity workforce through partnerships with educational institution.

Read the full compact here: Meet the Threat: A Compact to Improve State Cybersecurity

Based on the hackathon concept, the government-sponsored Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC) will bring together students, entrepreneurs, and tech-based professionals to team up and compete in presenting solutions for challenges facing state government. The month-long competition gives teams time to develop and present concepts, win awards, and potentially see their innovations implemented by state agencies.


Those interested are encouraged to attend the HACC kickoff event on August 26. At the kickoff, executive department representatives will present operational issues they face, with the goal of finding apps or digital ways to solve them. Teams will then have one month to collaborate and build software solutions.


Participants form teams prior to or at the kickoff event and are encouraged to recruit colleagues and friends to join the competition. When deciding on who to include in your team, consider these tips to help make your hackathon experience a success:


  1. Lean on people you know, regardless of experience level. Since a month of brainstorming, developing, testing, and refining your solution can be exhausting, be sure to form a team with professionals and peers you can count on to contribute. Need to expand your circle? Try recruiting team members through online community boards or groups you participate in.


  1. Look for variety. As with any tech project, a strong team should consist of a variety of experts. Your team mix may include coders, designers, a project manager, a marketing professional, or other disciplines. Try to keep the group sized between four to six members that represent several areas of expertise, including government experience.


  1. Know the details. Be sure to attend the kickoff event to hear the issues, rules, and judging criteria first-hand, decide which challenge you would like to address in your solution, and network with other participants and government officials.


The HACC kickoff event takes place on Saturday, August 26, at the East-West Center, Keoni Auditorium, on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. The judging and awards event will take place at the same location on September 23. Doors will open at 9:00 a.m. for both events.


Now in its second year, the annual HACC was launched by Gov. David Ige in conjunction with the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS). Last year, more than 200 community members participated in the HACC, and the top solutions addressed issues as diverse as homelessness and prison visitation.


Solutions generated at the HAAC have the potential to improve government services by expediting data processing and coordination efforts to benefit Hawaii residents. In addition, as a hackathon-inspired event, the HACC benefits the community by providing an opportunity for citizens to participate in collaborative app development, entrepreneurial skill building, and tech community progress.


For more information and to enter, visit

With growing staffing needs, the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) faced a significant challenge in filling vacant IT positions within the state. With the rapid growth in the number of IT initiatives under the agency’s oversight, including responsibility for greater transparency, accountability, security, and resource efficiency, time was of the essence in finding qualified candidates to augment the team.


ETS departed from conventional methods – word of mouth and postings on a state-sponsored job site – and turned to social media to expand their options. Apparently, their instincts were good, based on the promising results.


During the pilot project, 42% of vacancies at ETS were filled in with the help of LinkedIn


From October 2016 to April 2017, ETS conducted a pilot project with the professional social network site LinkedIn. They established a goal of filling 10 vacant positions during that time frame and began taking advantage of the site’s technology.


LinkedIn’s data-driven tools leveraged information on its 133 million U.S.-based users, targeting profiles that met ETS job specifications. By recruiting through LinkedIn, ETS increased the visibility of their openings to appropriate profiles, both in Hawaii and nationwide.


While the professional social networking platform charges to utilize its recruitment tools, ETS reports that LinkedIn’s advertising services resulted in a significantly lower cost than hiring an employment consultant.


During the six-month pilot project, ETS succeeded in hiring and assigning start dates for 13 new employees, including Hawaii’s Chief Information Security Officer. This total surpassed its goal and amounted to filling an impressive 42% of vacancies at the time. In comparison, ETS hired only six employees – or 17% of vacancies – to fill its open positions during the same time period in the year prior.


With the success of this innovative and cost-saving approach to recruitment, there has been increased interest in using Linkedin among the state’s other departments. ETS recommends departments use the service for hard-to-fill positions if their budgets permit.


Want more information on ETS’ successful use of LinkedIn? Read the GovTech article: IT Applicants Increased Tenfold During Hawaii’s Pilot Partnership With LinkedIn

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.

As a growing organization, Transform Hawai‘i Government is proud to announce the appointment of Christine Sakuda as the organization’s first executive director. THG is a grassroots, nonprofit organization founded to support the transformation of the way state government conducts business, including moving from paper-based to digital systems to increase efficiency, security and transparency.

“When Transform Hawai‘i Government was started, we knew it would have to outlast any political administration to make a difference and that’s why it had to be community based and driven,” said Micah Kāne, chair of the Board of Directors for Transform Hawai‘i Government. “We are excited to bring on Christine Sakuda as executive director to really steer the organization to make the greatest impact possible in transforming the government and engaging the community.”

Previously housed as an initiative at the Hawai‘i Community Foundation, THG was established as an independent nonprofit in 2016. Its mission is to build support for the transformation by educating the public, soliciting input from the community to help shape the outcome, and holding the state of Hawai‘i government accountable in making progress.

“I’m honored to be chosen as the first executive director of the Transform Hawai‘i Government coalition. Since 2013, this coalition has grown, engaged community leaders, and demonstrated support to advance an effective and efficient state government for all citizens,” stated Christine Sakuda. “I look forward to collaborating with the Office of Enterprise Technology Services and other departments to help our state government transform.”

Sakuda comes to THG from the Hawai‘i Health Information Exchange (HHIE), where she started as a board member, served as interim executive director, and eventually became its executive director in 2009. She is credited with building the organization from the ground up.

At HHIE, Sakuda devoted much of her time to transforming health care and the way it is delivered. HHIE was designated by the State of Hawai‘i to be the sole statewide health information exchange, and today, most of Hawai‘i’s major healthcare organizations and hundreds of Hawai‘i physicians are connected to HHIE.

Prior to her work at HHIE, Sakuda was the information officer and telehealth director at the Hawai‘i Primary Care Association where she directed the development and implementation of health information technology initiatives at Hawai‘i’s federally qualified community health centers. She was also the principal investigator for the Holomua Project, a health information exchange pilot program that went live in 2009.

Sakuda earned a Bachelor of Science degree in marketing and Japanese at Santa Clara University and received an MBA from the University of Hawai‘i Mānoa College of Business Administration.

THG-Supported Bills that Passed

Now that Legislative Session is over, the governor has until July 11th to pass, veto, or let bills become law without his signature. To request Governor Ige enact these bills below, please click here.

HB425 HD1 SD3 CD1, Relating to Technology Transfer at the University of Hawaii

One critical phase of innovation in our state is the ability to commercialize research ideas generated at the University of Hawaii. This phase, often known as “technology transfer,” is designed to strengthen our local economy by getting the new ideas, inventions and processes developed in universities to the private sector as quickly as possible. Technology transfer plays a vital role in UH’s ability to support its faculty and student researchers in these activities.

Currently, certain requirements of the State Ethics Code, if too stringently applied, inhibit the efficient and effective commercialization of research generated at UH. Accordingly, the bill makes specific sections of the Code of Ethics inapplicable to technology transfer activities sponsored by the University of Hawaii, if the activities comply with the regulatory framework and research compliance program approved by the Board of Regents.

HB607 HD1 SD2 CD1, Relating to Kupuna Care

Family caregivers are central players in Hawaii’s long-term care and health systems. Caregivers play an invaluable role by providing vital services and care for a rapidly growing elderly population. Because of the significant roles and responsibilities of caregivers in helping others, as well as the demands placed on them, this measure was passed to provide caregivers respite from the demands of caregiving and give them the necessary supports and services to sustain their own health.

The bill achieves these objectives by establishing the Kupuna Caregivers Program through the Executive Office on Aging and appropriates funds for the establishment and implementation of the Kupuna Caregivers Program.

HB627 HD2 SD2 CD1, Relating to Public-Private Partnerships

By leveraging synergies between the public and private sectors, public-private partnerships can improve the quality of life for Hawaii residents by defraying costs and expanding and improving government services beyond those currently available. Public-private partnerships have the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of state operations. This legislation authorizes DBEDT to establish a permanent private-public partnership coordinator position to develop and analyze plans for future public-private partnership projects, including the redevelopment of Aloha Stadium.

SB850 HD2 CD1, Relating to Information Technology

Because technology projects often involve substantial risk and expense, requiring independent verification and validation for certain projects contributes to the success of state modernization initiatives. The Chief Information Officer is expected to take a proactive approach in ensuring the successful development and implementation of technology projects and is, therefore, responsible for identifying the technology projects that should be subject to independent verification and validation.

SB722 SD1 HD1 CD1, Relating to Efficiency Measures

Because current projections of state general fund revenues show an increasingly weak economy, more scrutiny will be required to better control appropriations. More robust efficiency measures, such as leveraging of data resources, can enhance the level of scrutiny and help the legislature make difficult budget decisions to improve and continue important programs on a sustainable basis.

At present, state budget documents do not include efficiency measures tied to appropriation requests. The legislature is therefore restarting the efficiency measures pilot project, with clearer expectations and objectives to produce better data and a clearer determination of the benefits, appropriateness, and value of efficiency measures in budgetary planning. 

THG-Supported Bills that Remain Alive for the 2018 Legislative Session

While the 2017 Legislative session is over, we look forward to your support for the following measures next session to continue laying the foundation for more transparent, efficient and accessible state government.

HB1329 HD1, Relating to Technology Development

Teams participating in the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge (HACC) have produced applications with significant potential for government operations and also have the potential to be commercialized. The HACC provides a unique opportunity for the tech and startup community to collaborate with state government to develop innovative solutions to some of the pressing operational and social challenges facing Hawaii. This legislation passed the House and Senate subject matter committees but did not pass out of conference committee.

HB1481 HD1, Relating to Economic Development

This measure would have created a working group to gather input from departments and agencies to examine how blockchain technology could improve their business processes. Blockchain uses include cybersecurity, disaster recovery, clearance and settlement, supply chain transparency, title registries, communications, and document verification.

This technology holds significant potential to drastically change and improve public sector operations and private industry capabilities. This bill passed the House and the Economic Development, Tourism and Technology [ETT] Committee in the Senate but was not heard by the Ways and Means [WAM] Committee.

SB312 SD1, Relating to Open Government

This legislation requires that the public have electronic access to the materials members of state boards and commissions receive that provide board members with background on the items appearing on their meeting agendas. After passing out of the Senate and passing First Reading in the House, it was referred to the Judiciary (JUD) Committee, where it did not receive a hearing.

HB918 HD1 SD 1, Relating to Intervention

This measure proposes the development of an electronic system to track and monitor the progress of early intervention services for infants and toddlers who have a developmental delay or are at biological risk for developmental delays. It passed all subject matter committees in the House and Senate and was discussed in conference committee but was not passed out for a floor vote.


Aerial footage used to locate homeless encampments, map historical sites, and monitor flood impacts

In moving towards a more effective, efficient, and open government, Hawaii took another step on the path to modernization with the use of an unmanned aerial system (UAS), better known as drones, by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).

“Numerous DLNR divisions have been discussing the use of drones for mapping and resource protection purposes for a number of years,” said Dan Dennison, senior communications manager of DLNR. 

Most recently, DLNR used drone photography in a joint effort with the Governor’s Office on Homelessness to address illegal encampments on the steep slopes of Diamond Head. Read the article from Civil Beat on this effort here.

Mapping homeless encampments along Diamond Head:

Why drones? According to Curt Cottrell, administrator of the DLNR Division of State Parks, “The initial reason was the terrain on the flank of Diamond Head has extremely rough topography and is complicated by a labyrinth of trails through grass and kiawe.

For the encampments there, we were doing ground surveillance and documentation. It was getting very hard to keep track of these camps, so we determined aerial mapping of them would save a lot of time and energy.”

To determine the flight path for its drone, DLNR uses GPS coordinates of trails and flat spots created by several years of foot traffic. A broad sweep in March removed 90 cubic yards of discarded possessions and resulted in several citations to illegal campers. To keep this closed-area free of illegal sites, they fly the drone on once-a-week flights to monitor the area for illegal campers. Formerly, the search process required several hours by a DLNR employee hiking through these areas.

Precise mapping helps enforcement officers, as well as homeless outreach workers, to locate and provide resources to people, without requiring the assistance of a DLNR guide. Contractors bidding on jobs to remove debris also benefit from the information collected by the drone to determine the scope of work, which enables them to make more accurate bids.

Future application of drones

(DLNR’s drone takes flight for its weekly flyover of Diamond Head State Park. Photo courtesy of Department of Land and Natural Resources.)

Drone usage for mapping illegal encampments is currently limited to Diamond Head because the aerial technology is ideal for the rough topography. Many other camps elsewhere around the state are located in flat areas reachable by motor vehicles.

State Homeless Coordinator Scott Morishige said, “Drones were not and will not be used to surveil people experiencing homelessness. Trust is a key factor in establishing relationships with these folks, and we build trust through experienced outreach workers who connect with individuals.”

“In the end, it’s the ability of outreach workers to build trust with people in order to connect them to the right services,” Morishige noted.

According to Parks Administrator Cottrell, plans for drone usage are evolving. Other potential uses include flyovers to conduct archaeological mapping of historic sites, surveys of trail conditions, as well as monitoring stream heights in flash flood prone areas.

In instances of weather-induced damage, footage from a drone’s vantage point will provide better analytical perspective on the scope of impact on the landscape at large.

While drones have been popular in the recreational market for years, this initiative by DLNR opens the door to more efficient and safer ways to deploy state personnel and other resources, along with more effective ways to solve issues facing state agencies.

**Please note that a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certified state employee operates the DLNR State Park’s drone. For public safety reasons, other drones or flying objects are not allowed to operate in Hawaii State Parks without a permit.**

State of Hawaii bolsters its cybersecurity capabilities with additions to cyber security team.

Hawaii Continues to Bolster Its Cybersecurity Capabilities

Cybersecurity looms large in the news these days, and recently, news media have reported that personal information and Social Security numbers tied to as many as 4.8 million people using a multi-state job board system were compromised between February 20 and March 14 this year. Luckily, Hawaii was not one of the states affected.

Hawaii state government has moved to thwart attacks on state systems and protect citizens’ and government information from intruders. Last year, the Office of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), requested and received funding for three new cybersecurity positions to provide security for all three branches of state government. In December, ETS filled the first of these positions, hiring the State of Hawaii’s first chief information security officer (CISO), Vincent Hoang.

Mr. Hoang is putting in place cybersecurity standards for executive branch departments and ensuring that state government system operations are following best practices in cybersecurity. He most recently served as the enterprise architect for Hawaiian Telcom, where he secured infrastructure for customers and conducted network architecture, performance, security risk, and systems infrastructure assessments.

Among other responsibilities, the remaining two cybersecurity support positions will be dedicated to identifying security issues in the state government network. The focus thus far has been on perimeter security. The next phase involves the installation of endpoint protection platforms, which provide anti-malware scanning along with many other security features.


Cybersecurity beyond the state system

But what about cybersecurity threats to other institutions and Hawaii residents outside of state government? Currently, a bill is moving through the legislature to address this concern, House Bill 598, which would enable the University of Hawaii to develop a Hawaii cyber ecosystem and related aspects of cybersecurity.

If the measure is enacted, UH would lead a collaborative effort between private sector companies, nonprofit organizations, government, and individuals to strengthen protections against cyber threats to critical energy, telecommunications, and water infrastructure systems, as well as financial, tourism, military, and other important public and private industries.