Gov. Neil Abercrombie proclaimed Hawaii was “entering the 21st century” with the hiring of Sonny Bhagowalia as the state’s first chief information officer last summer.

Now, just shy of Bhagowalia’s first year on the job, a highly anticipated strategic plan admits that the state isn’t quite there yet.

“Hawaii is not positioned to capitalize on the promise of the 21st century information age…Hawaii is mired in ineffective and inefficient paper-based, manual business processes with old technology,” according to the strategic plan released Tuesday by the Office of Information Management and Technology.

While admitting Hawaii is 20 to 30 years behind when compared with other states, Bhagowalia strikes a hopeful tone, saying that he is confident the state can “leap frog” ahead — with help from the public.

His office has posted the 35-page draft plan online and is seeking feedback from the community between now and June 1. The public is asked to chime in via an online forum and the office says it will incorporate feedback into a final plan to be published in July.

Bhagowalia has said putting the plan together will cost $1 million, which is being paid for using private grant money 1.

“We seek to ‘leap frog’ into the front by leveraging lessons learned, best practices and studying successful examples of business/technology transformation at the federal, state, local, tribal and industry level,” Bhagowalia wrote in the plan’s opening message. “We believe agility, openness/transparency, participation, collaboration and innovation will leap-frog us to the top.”

Among the first upgrades planned are having all financial reports available within five business days, digitizing unemployment benefit checks (currently, the state sends out paper checks) and helping more residents file their taxes online.

The plan defines four goals for the state’s transformation strategy:

  1. All aspects of the state’s administrative operational functions and services are fully integrated in an optimum manner and are accessible to all stakeholders as needed when needed.
  2. The state is nationally recognized as a citizen- and business-friendly environment due to the efficiency and effectiveness of State government in managing and securely sharing information in the desirable form and format.
  3. The Executive Branch is recognized by its internal stakeholders for its efficiency and effectiveness and is recognized outside the state as a best practice.
  4. The state’s processes are streamlined in order to ensure services are delivered to all stakeholders in the most efficient and effective manner and process streamlining will not be just a one-time activity, but will be performed continuously.

A large chunk of the plan received financial backing from lawmakers this session. Legislators budgeted $15 million within the fiscal 2013 capital improvements budget for “development and implementation of an integrated financial management system for the state.”

Achieving the overall plan to overhaul the state’s IT infrastructure will be done in five phases over 10 years.

Here’s a look at the timeline:

Read the 35-page draft plan online and share your critique on the state’s online forum.

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