Bhagowalia gets promotion, Hawaii names new CIO

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Ho’omaika’i ‘Ana!

That’s the Hawaiian word for “congratulations,” which is fitting following Monday’s announcement that Sonny Bhagowalia, Hawaii’s chief information officer for nearly three years, is getting a promotion — and so are some of his top lieutenants.

At a press conference in Honolulu, Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Bhagowalia has been promoted to the new position of chief adviser for technology and cybersecurity, an executive leadership position within the state aimed at positioning Hawaii as the premier technology and cybersecurity hub in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Under Sonny’s exceptionally positive leadership and energy, the State of Hawaii has made great strides in developing a strong technology and security foundation, launching key programs to transform business and technology in the state, and charting a strong course for the future with a nationally recognized transformation plan,” Abercrombie said.

“Now more than ever, we need Sonny to help our state take the next step by representing Hawaii at a national level to ensure we establish a cohesive technology and cybersecurity strategy, position Hawaii for future federal collaboration and investments, and encourage our community stakeholders to continue to support Hawaii’s technology transformation,” he added.

Strengthening ties

Part of the appointment is to help strengthen the state’s ties with the federal government.

Before coming to Hawaii, Bhagowalia was a well-respected technology leader within the federal government, serving 11 years in a number of prominent capacities including CIO at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Interior Department as well as an associate administrator within the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

He will assume his new position Feb. 18.

“I thank the governor, my fellow directors, my extended ‘ohana’ of CIOs, all our staff and the people of Hawaii for their unwavering support of the transformation,” Bhagowalia said. “We are proud of the major accomplishments so far and excited about the road ahead for the great State of Hawaii.”

A new CIO

Bhagowalia is not the only one getting a new job, as his elevation means promotions for others within the department as well.

With this change, the Office of Information Management Technology’s two deputy CIOs will be promoted into new roles to facilitate the office’s transition from key foundational activities, such as planning and designing new systems, to implementation.

Deputy CIO of Operations Keone Kali will succeed Bhagowalia as state CIO, while Deputy CIO of Business Transformation Randy Baldemor will join the Office of the Governor as director of strategic initiatives, both also effective Feb. 18.

Kali was named deputy CIO in November 2012 after serving as the director of information technology and acting chief technology officer for the Pacific Disaster Center on Maui.

Kali was also the CIO for the City of Beverly Hills, where he designed, executed and managed a comprehensive five-year Information Technology Master Plan, transformed the city’s technology architecture to support highly available and accessible public services, and formed new revenue-generating programs.

Baldemor also joined OIMT more than a year ago. He was previously the deputy director of the Hawaii Department of Taxation, where he led the IT modernization efforts and business process re-engineering activities that significantly improved tax return processing and refund issuances. He has also served as president of software development company DiscoveryBox, assistant vice president of claims for Island Insurance Companies, and litigation partner at Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel LLP.

Highlighting success

The governor also highlighted significant accomplishments by Bhagowalia and his extended CIO team over the past 2.5 years in a detailed annual report released today and available for download at the state Office of Information Management Technology website.

Accomplishments highlighted in the comprehensive CIO Annual Report include:

1.    Aligning business and IT through four key programs (enterprise resource planning, tax, health IT and business process reengineering)

2.    Strengthening the state’s critical security and technology infrastructure through four key programs (consolidated infrastructure, enterprise shared services, enterprise security/privacy, and the Hawaii Broadband Initiative)

3.    Implementing transparency and accountability through two key programs (open government and governance)

“The standard of excellence in leadership, program execution and teamwork set by Sonny provides a solid foundation for Hawaii’s future, and I commend him for his commitment and service to the people of the State of Hawaii,” Abercrombie said. “This is the right time to transition, and I am confident that Keone will maintain the high-quality execution of the state’s IT transformation plan and management of OIMT. In addition, Randy’s newly established position within my office demonstrates our commitment to furthering this effort, and it will facilitate the strategic alignment of priorities and resources on key business transformation initiatives as well as fostering greater coordination and collaboration across departments.”

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Hawaii, States
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