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Grant will fund review of state computer gear

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A $3 million effort to modernize the state’s computer and technology systems aims to streamline core governmental functions and eliminate redundancy across departments, Gov. Neil Abercrombie said yesterday in announcing the public-private partnership.

The initial grant money from the Hawaii Community Foundation will fund salaries and costs for assessing the state’s current information technology system and develop a strategic plan for moving forward with the modernization.

"The technology system is outdated — it hasn’t been upgraded in decades, not just months or years," Abercrombie said at a news conference in his office. "It hampers government service."

Abercrombie plans to establish an Office of Information Management and Technology within the Office of the Governor. Its head will be the chief information officer for the state.

Kelvin Taketa, president and chief executive officer of the Hawaii Community Foundation, said the grant will be administered by the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii at the direction of the state Department of Accounting and General Services.

The assessment is expected to be completed by June 2013, at which point Phase II of the project is to begin, said Ryan Okahara, deputy DAGS director. Phase II involves modernizing and consolidating the state’s information technology structure, standardizing business applications and consolidating common services and business functions.

Other states such as Utah and Alabama have saved more than $3 million a year through implementing similar practices, Okahara said.

He said it was too early to tell how much Hawaii could save, noting that figure would be determined by the assessment.

The modernization project is contingent on legislation moving in the state House and Senate to establish a permanent source of funding for the upkeep and oversight of the new Office of Technology and Management.

Okahara said the state is targeting about $1.2 million from the Legislature, primarily for salaries for the new chief information officer and support staff of up to 10 people.

The initial $3 million grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation is from the Omidyar Ohana Fund, a donor-advised fund established through the support of eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam.

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