Office of Technology seeks to push GovGuam into the digital age

GovGuam Chief Technology Officer Frank Lujan Jr. says it isn't a matter of hardware, software, or even funding. It's largely a matter of culture, old-fashioned processes, and habit.

When it comes to taking care of personal business at GovGuam agencies, it’s common to hear complaints about long lines, long waits, and mounds of paperwork.

In the age of the internet and mobile technology, does it really have to be this way?

GovGuam’s Chief Technology Officer says the answer is…not really.

Although some GovGuam services are online, many feel the government is behind the curve when it comes to technology.

PNC News spoke with GovGuam’s chief technology officer to ask why — well into the digital age — the government is often still stuck in the age of paper.

Although a lot of progress has been made over recent years, many GovGuam agencies still rely on paper forms — and even handwritten records in notebooks — to manage information.

GovGuam Chief Technology Officer Frank Lujan Jr. says it isn’t a matter of hardware, software, or even funding.

It’s largely a matter of culture, old-fashioned processes, and habit.

“For the most part, to get there, it’s really more of a cultural shift that has to take place. Moving from years and years of pushing paper to something where they can leverage digital data on our system..that’s a process that needs to transform at each one of the agency levels,” Lujan said.

Individual agencies have upgraded their technology at various levels but it wasn’t until the pandemic that agencies, and even the public, were forced to make the most of the technology they have.

An example is online vehicle registrations.

Lujan says Rev and Tax tried for years to encourage people to register online. But it wasn’t until the pandemic that the service saw a surge of users.

“They mired in a lot of paper, but in the wake of this pandemic, there has been this reevaluation and reassessment at all levels to really look at minimizing the paper trail. It’s not an easy process, it’s not a fast process, but it is now a process that there’s a lot of attention at the various departments to kind of look at and streamline,” Lujan said.

Lujan says currently, there’s no large scale plan to overhaul the government’s IT infrastructure and services.

In the midst of the pandemic, the main focus of the Office of Technology is to ensure connectivity and security to support teleworking.

They’re also focused on supporting the hardware and services that have been pushed out to help process CARES Act financial relief programs.

Although individual agencies are left to their own devices when it comes to leveraging technology, Lujan says the potential to transform the way government functions is there.

“There is a lot of technology throughout the various departments within the government of Guam that we are leveraging, per se. But again, there’s a big difference between using technology and actually transforming the way the government does business today,” Lujan said.