PBN: Three questions with Christine Sakuda

By Anna Hrushka
Pacific Business News

Christine Sakuda, executive director of Transform Hawaii Government. Photo by Tina Yuen

Christine Sakuda, executive director of Transform Hawaii Government. Photo by Tina Yuen

Christine Sakuda was recently named executive director of Transform Hawaii Government, a nonprofit organization that supports initiatives aimed at improving the transparency, accountability and efficiency in state government.

 

Before joining THG, Sakuda was executive director of the Hawaii Health Information Exchange.

 

PBN caught up with Sakuda to discuss her goals for the five-year-old organization, which counts local business leaders such as First Hawaiian Bank Chairman and CEO Bob Harrison, Hawaii Government Employees Association Executive Director Randy Perreira and Hawaii Community Foundation CEO Micah Kane among its board members.

 

What will be the biggest challenge in taking on this new role?

The biggest challenge for me would be to make sure that the need for IT transformation within state government remains a top priority. When Transform Hawaii Government did some initial studies in about 2011, a partnership with the state at the time, it realized that state infrastructure was about 20 to 30 years behind. Therefore, it became apparent that the importance of supporting information technology transformation within state government is imperative. State services and state departments need good information to make good decisions. They share information between the departments and they also share information with the public. Technology changes at a rapid pace. The information technology plan is very important to revisit on a regular basis and ensure that we continue to meet progress.

 

How does Hawaii’s government technology infrastructure compare to other states?

In some areas, it’s made progress and in other areas it’s in the process of putting plans in place. The state right now is implementing a tax system modernization and that’s good because that’s going to impact the business community. It has accomplished statewide electronic signing of documents. The Legislature is almost completely electronic in terms of bill tracking. We’ve spent a lot of time investing in security because we’re in the middle of the Pacific and it’s important to have secure technology infrastructure. That being said, there are always areas to improve on. And those are the areas that I’m trying to understand a lot better and how THG can raise awareness on the importance of technology investment.

 

How important is it to have local business leaders on THG’s board? As leaders in their industry, I think they understand the importance of secure and responsive information systems that inform and support business priorities. The state runs like a business, too. It delivers services and it’s held accountable just like private business is held accountable. So, I think it’s very important. I do see it as an opportunity with their perspective to look for ways of establishing a greater collaboration with the state and really helping us advance this initiative. I believe that it’s important for the business community to support THG and THG to convey why that support is important. Again, the government does run businesses and services. As citizens, we all benefit from that and we benefit from an open and transparent, responsive, government just like any business.

As leaders in their industry, I think they understand the importance of secure and responsive information systems that inform and support business priorities. The state runs like a business, too. It delivers services and it’s held accountable just like private business is held accountable. So, I think it’s very important. I do see it as an opportunity with their perspective to look for ways of establishing a greater collaboration with the state and really helping us advance this initiative. I believe that it’s important for the business community to support THG and THG to convey why that support is important. Again, the government does run businesses and services. As citizens, we all benefit from that and we benefit from an open and transparent, responsive, government just like any business.

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