Hawaii’s Bhagowalia named ‘Government Innovator of the Year’

Sonny Bhagowalia, Hawaii’s chief advisor for technology and cyber security to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, was named the “Government Innovator of the Year” by the Government Technology Research Alliance.

Sonny Bhagowalia, Hawaii’s chief advisor for technology and cybersecurity to Gov. Neil Abercrombie, was named the “Government Innovator of the Year” by the Government Technology Research Alliance.

Bhagowalia received the award for facilitating Hawaii’s business and technology transformation, launched in 2011 under the Abercrombie Administration, after being recruited to the islands following a successful career as a technology executive within the federal government.

“This prestigious award recognizes the finest leaders and innovators in government,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Under Sonny’s innovative leadership, Hawaii has developed an ambitious business and technology plan, established a stable technology foundation, launched key programs to transform delivery of online services, and significantly improved transparency and accountability. Our state government is now being recognized as a leader in the nation for our steady and incremental transformation gains.”

Bhagowalia received the honor amid a field of nominees from federal, state, local and tribal governments. Hawaii was the sole state recipient in the “Government Innovator of the Year” category, beating out two federal finalists from the U.S. Defense Department and Environmental Protection Agency.


Bhagowalia was nominated for his accomplishments as the first leader of state Office of Information Management Technology and his achievements over the past year in transforming business and technology in the state through the innovative use of enterprise architectures, strategic planning, program management, transparency and personal transformation.

After being appointed by Gov. Abercrombie as Hawaii’s first chief information officer and serving in that capacity for three years, Bhagowalia was promoted to governor’s chief advisor for technology and cybersecurity in February. The new executive leadership position was created to establish Hawaii as a premier technology and cybersecurity hub in the Asia-Pacific region and to strengthen ties between Hawaii and Washington, D.C., in support of the state’s business and technology transformation.

Bhagowalia is working with the new state chief information officer, Keone Kali, and other stakeholders to publish a cybersecurity report on Hawaii’s next steps to align with the National Cybersecurity Framework and establish itself as a world-class cybersecurity center of excellence for the emerging 21st Century Asia-Pacific region.

“Hawaii is on track and being recognized at the national level for making steady progress in modernizing and securing our technology infrastructure and reengineering the way government does business – online versus waiting in line,” Bhagowalia said. “A cybersecurity framework of cooperation and investment will be required by government, industry and academia with local, national and international representation to help Hawaii realize its promise as a crossroads of the Pacific in the Information Age.”

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