In this episode of Transform Hawaii Government's (THG) Digital Talk Story series, Executive Director Christine Sakuda speaks with Senator Donovan Dela Cruz about the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on government service delivery, current priorities for government modernization, and how the community can get involved to advocate for modernization.
Sen. Dela Cruz represents District 22 which encompasses Wahiawa, Mililani Mauka, Launani Valley, Waipio Acres, and Wheeler. He is chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and a Member of the Committee on Education.
When asked about his perspective on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sen. Dela Cruz echoed many of his colleagues' responses by stating that the pandemic forced the government to quickly adapt and evolve how they provide services to the public for the health and safety of everyone. Prior to the pandemic, a common explanation for the absence of transformation was not having enough funding. He asserted that the pandemic has shown us if there is a necessity to adapt, there is a way to achieve it despite not having the resources.
An important discussion happening within our government is regarding infrastructure improvements that support equal and fair access to digital learning for students across the state. These improvements are a crucial part of evolving our state's resources to support the future of learning. Sen. Dela Cruz shared that in addition to these improvements, the Department of Education is looking to hire digital teachers and obtain legislation that allows for that kind of employment.
Sen. Dela Cruz shared with Transform Hawaii Government that community feedback is a crucial part of decision-making at the legislature. Receiving input from individuals who both utilize and deliver government services can better inform elected officials on what course of action to take toward supporting modernization. The more input our government receives, the more precise they can be in ensuring services are delivered to meet the public's needs. He encourages the public to get involved by signing up for hearing notices at https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov to be informed of opportunities to provide testimony and have their voices heard.
The modernization project for the state's financial management system will be kicking off soon and he shared that the new system will provide up-to-date information, be more transparent and precise, and help officials make more informed decisions. Transform Hawaii Government looks forward to continue following the progress of this project and thanks the members of the legislature for keeping the momentum going forward for modernization. Sen. Dela Cruz hopes that in the future, as the state issues out other contracts for modernization projects, they can be awarded to Hawaii-based companies as we work to build up our information technology workforce locally.
THG extends its appreciation to Sen. Dela Cruz for taking time from his busy schedule to join us for our Digital Talk Story series.
Watch Episode 9 of the Digital Talk Story series here.