Education Letter to the Editor

New Accounting Software Is a Must

March 17, 2020 1 min read

To the Editor:

I am glad to see concrete progress on Hawaii’s department of education’s movement toward modernizing its financial management system (“One State Is Overhauling Its Finance Technology After Long-Standing Fights, Glitches,” Feb. 13, 2020). I hope other states and their departments follow Hawaii’s lead.

One might think of state government as a monolith where vast system updates happen simultaneously and uniformly across the patchwork of state agencies. In actual fact, it’s a gradual domino effect where, in this case, DOE benefits first. We expect other Hawaii state departments to follow suit on upgrading their legacy FMS systems.

Information technology modernization isn’t only a significant financial investment for Hawaii. It is also an investment in organizational change management and workflow redesign, in which state workers (the largest employment base here on the islands) are included in the planning, implementation, and training of the new technology that they will use.

Indeed, it takes courage and vision to disrupt long-standing layers of process and bureaucracy.

In an offline conversation with one knowledgeable Honolulu official, the aging accounting systems were described as “clogged plumbing” that lead to late payments for vendors and the avoidable accounting glitches and backlogs that the blog post rightly described. In 2018, the DOE’s old mainframe dating back to the 1990s crashed, forcing a delay in payments to vendors.

Those of us in the nonprofit world working to catalyze digital government transformation have long held the view that, without an accounting infrastructure joined up from agency-to-agency and business-to-government using the latest software, we can expect more system crashes to occur. Fragmented, legacy computing systems cause late payment fees from vendors and handicap decisionmaking by state leadership.

Thank you for giving a national voice to this critical initiative.

Christine Sakuda

Executive Director

Transform Hawaii Government

Honolulu, Hawaii

A version of this article appeared in the March 18, 2020 edition of Education Week as New Accounting Software Is a Must