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New info officer seeks upgrade

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An experienced leader of government technology oversight, Sanjeev “Sonny” Bhagowalia, was named Tuesday as Hawaii’s first full-time chief information officer.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie chose Bhagowalia for the job of upgrading the state government’s aging computer and technology systems.

Bhagowalia will lead a seven-person information technology office tasked with improving public online services, making government more efficient and saving money.

Bhagowalia currently serves as deputy associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies in the U.S. General Services Administration.

“My experience has trained me to see information and possibility in everything, and I’m eager to discover what opportunities lie ahead for Hawaii,” he said in a statement.

BHAGOWALIA starts his job, which pays a $179,700 salary, in June. He will prepare a plan for improving the state’s information technology by the time the Legislature convenes in January, Abercrombie said.

Potential changes he could enact include enabling more electronic transactions with the government, digitizing unemployment check printouts, improving computer communications among state departments and creating a government data center.

Abercrombie also signed a bill into law spending about $1.2 million annually for operations of the state Office of Information Management and Technology. The office also received $3 million in startup money in the form of a grant from the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Omidyar Ohana Fund, established through the support of eBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pam.

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