Audit of the City's Information Technology Modernization, Services, and Support
Highlights from Honolulu County Auditor, January 10, 2022
Since 2005, the Department of Information Technology (DIT) has engaged in an ambitious modernization program of the city’s information technology (IT) systems and supporting infrastructure to improve IT support of city operations and public service. This audit was self-initiated by the Office of the City Auditor and reviewed DIT efforts from 2013-2020 to 1) modernize the city’s IT, 2) support department IT initiatives and efforts, and 3) meet public needs for IT-based city services. The report determined whether these initiatives were cost and time effective and resulted in improvements to services and in other areas. While DIT led a much-needed major modernization of many city IT systems, infrastructure, and staff capabilities, DIT’s technical support of city department IT initiatives and requests, which have direct daily impact on employees’ ability to perform their duties and serve the public, is adversely affected by staffing, planning, and prioritization issues.…
Modernization Efforts Have Progressed Well, but More Planning Is Needed for Responsive Efforts Going Forward
There has been significant progress in modernization, which includes many longstanding projects like renovating the city’s data center, upgrading the emergency radio system and supporting facilities, upgrading the mainframe to provide a stable foundation for modern IT support and services, and supporting critical operations statewide.
However, there is a need going forward to focus on better addressing IT support and service. While DIT does thoughtfully develop its overall plan for major IT projects and efforts, current support and service limitations have resulted in both routine and specialized IT needs not being prioritized or met. More planning and prioritization is needed to effectively address customer departments’ needs for technical support and improve IT services.
Better Reporting is Needed about Project Costs, Cost Effectiveness, and Savings
We found that DIT is not reporting on the full project costs that it considers for selecting projects to develop, support, and maintain in house. When completed, priority IT projects listed in budgets for the past five years may cost approximately $28.7 million.
However, this estimate does not include the costs of in-house development and system support, which the department has touted as cost-saving efforts.
A more thorough and comprehensive cost analysis and reporting would help policymakers better understand the costs and resources required to develop, support, and service IT projects, aid user agencies in vendor purchasing decisions, and enhance internal department evaluation of required project resources, including cost savings.
DIT is Unable to Meet Certain Service and Support Expectations Due to Computer Service Representative Coverage, Continuity, and Communication
The Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) within DIT provide daily IT support across the city, but support seems to be distributed unevenly, with eleven CSRs supporting only three city departments and eight CSRs supporting 33 agencies.
This workload distribution results in CSRs prioritizing current workloads and short-term support needs over other responsibilities. Specifically, CSRs cannot fully assist departments with long-term planning and supporting initiatives for overall IT customer effectiveness. Support levels are also causing inconsistent communication, resulting in CSRs reactively responding to their assigned departments rather than proactively identifying needs. Finally, the lack of proper planning hinders development of contingencies for retirements and vacancies.
DIT Cannot Meet Some Departments’ Service and Support Expectations Due to Inconsistent Completion of Requests for Service
With the increased use of IT in all city operations, city departments have increased expectations for prompt service of their requests, and assistance to meet IT priorities. DIT is often unable to set and meet completion dates that match department preferences for their service requests.
From 2013-2020, the overall volume of requests for services has increased; this is likely due to DIT’s modernization and inhouse development efforts to improve city IT systems and services. This has increased the overall workload for the Applications Division to complete requests, work on priority projects, and maintain applications. Better management of the request process could improve timely service and completion and provide increased monitoring of service request progress, particularly for department requests that are high priority or time sensitive.
We made 13 recommendations to improve DIT’s effectiveness and accountability in modernizing the city's IT systems, and providing IT support and services to city departments.
read … Audit of the City's Information Technology Modernization, Services, and Support
Full Report (DIT Response begins on pg 122)