State government needs to improve info technology
Hawaii received a low grade by a Pew Center report on state governments' performance.
A new report has given Hawaii a subpar grade for performance of state government
, emphasizing its inadequate use of information technology. The Lingle administration should heed the report's recommendation that it "systematically modernize and standardize" the state's information system.
A Pew Center report "Grading the States" gives Hawaii a grade of C-plus, along with nine other states. Only nine states had worse marks, New Hampshire alone at the bottom with a D-plus.
Hawaii's grade was an improvement over its C in the 2005 grading, particularly since the new ratings take into consideration advancement of "the state of the art." A state could have improved without getting a better grade.
The states were given scores in the areas of personnel practices, budgeting, infrastructure and information. Hawaii improved in each of those categories except personnel practices from the 2005 grades, but its worst category remained information technology, graded C-minus, up from D.
"Information is king," the Pew report says, because its elements "are key to how a state takes care of its infrastructure, plans for its financial future and deals with the dramatic changes affecting the state workforce." While a state law requires that state budget writers employ results-based information, it quotes state auditor Marion Higa as saying, "Even when agencies purport to have measurements, those tend to be fiction."
The report also criticizes Hawaii for its failure to maintain the state's physical infrastructure, asserting that it "must come to grips with an unavoidable geographic truth" -- mudslides and earthquakes that require more attention to maintenance. It cites a $187 million backlog of deferred road maintenance and could have included similar backlogged repairs totaling as much as $400 million at the University of Hawaii and $150 million at Aloha Stadium.
All states face upcoming personnel shortages with the retirement of baby boomers, and the report commends the cooperation of the Department of Human Resources Development and the Department of Business and Economic Development for developing incentives to maintain the state's workforce. A new online system has increased job applications by 30 percent since 2005, it says.
The report heaps praise on Lillian Koller, director of the Department of Human Services, for dramatically reducing the number of children entering foster care. It also cites the use of nearly $10 million in federal funds that "sat unused every year" for programs that result in increased adoptions and family reunification."
In addition, it notes that Koller forged a partnership with Maui Community College to replace an information technology system described as a "complete management albatross," using students to develop a new system "at a fraction of the cost."