Lou Schiavone, Jr. leads the Administration group of Avenu Insights & Analytics, which supports the operations of state and local governments with software and services. Here, Lou describes the challenges for governments in delivering services, the role of the private sector and the ongoing impact of the Avenu’s purchase of Conduent’s government business.
Of all the issues facing governments, what do see as most critical?
Of course there are many challenges – aging infrastructure, housing, health care, and revenue, to name a few. But top of the list is that governments must maintain the trust of citizens, and they do that by making the best decisions they can about how to use their resources to deliver services today and in the future. Today’s consumer of government information is a lot different than those of even five years ago.
In all of Avenu’s state and local government clients, I see employees who have multiple roles and do more than is expected. At the end of the day they want to feel like they’ve done their jobs well, and they need help to do that. That’s where the private sector comes in. Private companies need to have a stronger presence in supporting government services because the expectations and needs of citizens are so great, and no one organization can meet those alone. Avenu being a company with over 3,000 customers nationwide allows us to amalgamate best practices from all of its customers, which is a significant benefit to any single municipality.
Where can the private sector provide the most support?
A critical area is modernization of systems. As good stewards of funds, governments don’t go out and buy the latest technology right when it comes out, for example. They get as much use as they can of computer hardware and software. But at some point replacement is needed to improve service delivery, to lower maintenance costs and to prevent breakdowns like the security breach that happened in Atlanta. We especially see a need for modernization when new laws require jurisdictions to improve their records management.
But modernization is more than simple replacement of systems. It requires a road map for upgrading technology, optimizing processes and sharing the expertise we have gained from other government clients. Implementation must happen in a way that maintains continuity of operations. And budget, staff and other resources get factored into a cost-benefit analysis so that governments know they are better off in the long run. Taken together, this means that jurisdictions will have truly digital government and provides the same level of service experienced in the private sector.
What does Avenu’s acquisition of Conduent’s government business mean for customers?
I’ve worked for companies of many different sizes, and I’ve learned that while bigger companies tend to have a lot of resources, they are so diversified that they don’t have a lot of focus. Smaller companies, on the other hand, have a lot of focus but not the level of resources needed to make a big difference in reaching clients’ objectives or fulfilling their mission.
I see Avenu as “right sized”, meaning that we have enough staff, expertise, and the ability to invest to provide state and local government customers the support they need. Plus, we have the focus on government and the solutions they need, whether it’s modernized systems, new workflows and efficiencies, or enhanced revenue programs. We have software engineers, program management professionals and client success staff who focus exclusively on government needs and how to support staff and citizens. This client focus is how we have organized our business. The customers that we serviced under the larger corporation are happily saying they already see the difference. We knew the change would be a very positive one for our customers but it’s great to hear that our customers are thrilled with the change. We are too!