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Digital Citizens Deserve Digital Courts

While jury duty is not the most exciting thing to look forward to, todays citizens deserve a digital court experience and technology is providing a more streamlined jury experience for citizens.

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In this episode, I talk with Michael Payton, the justice solution leader at Avenu, about how digitization can help increase jury response rates and improve the citizen experience.

  • What we discussed:
  • Challenges the courts face with day to day operations
  • How automation changes the way courts operate
  • How digitization impacts juror response rates and helps create diverse jury pools
  • The impact of the pandemic on our courts

This discussion with Michael Payton was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

Changing Tax Landscape Requires Prioritizing New Compliance Efforts

By Kennon Walthall, Avenu Senior Vice President

In almost no time at all, COVID-19 has transformed both society and the economy. A rapid shift to remote work and the emergence of more digital-first services, combined with new social distancing and safety protocols, have altered everything from our work patterns and office practices to our home lives and shopping schedules.

While many of these changes hold promise for the future, they come at a cost. This is especially true for state and local governments whose tax revenue  has dramatically been impacted the pandemic, and many are facing   a severe budget crunch. From March to August of last year, as the coronavirus pandemic first took hold, total tax revenue at the state level declined by 6.4%, and state governments were suddenly facing hundreds of billions in lost revenue across the board.

Better revenue management will have to be a top 2021 priority for state and local governments looking to thrive in the post-COVID era. That’s because COVID-19 hasn’t just hurt the budgeting bottom line by depressing tax revenues; COVID is changing how tax revenue comes in and where can it be found, with previously reliable tax revenue streams drying up, while others grow. To stay on top of their revenue streams, governments will need to adopt the data-transparent, cost-efficient and effective technology tools and practices that maximize tax compliance in the new COVID-19 tax landscape and ensure that no tax revenue source goes untapped.

Tax revenue has always been a huge part of our economy, with state and local tax revenue accounting for about 9% of our national GDP. But taxes come in all shapes and sizes, and not every tax contributes equally to total tax revenue across every municipality and all 50 states. That means a major disruptive event, like the coronavirus pandemic, can shift the way tax revenue comes in, creating a disparate economic impact and changing the way taxes ought to be collected.

Take sales tax, for example. In 2017, state and local governments took in about $389 billion in general sales tax revenue, amounting to about 12% of overall revenue. In 2020, COVID-19 reduced sale tax revenue by about $50 billion, mostly by reducing the emphasis on what and how much people bought from heavily-taxed goods and services like restaurants and hotels.

But that overall decline in revenue doesn’t tell the whole story, because the impact from COVID-19’s effect on sales tax revenue wasn’t felt equally across the country.

Only 46 states collect general sales tax, and of those 46 states, some rely on sales tax more heavily than others to balance their budgets. These differences in revenue management led to significantly different COVID-19 outcomes; new research has found that the more a state or local government relied on sales tax income, the higher its unemployment rate for government employees during the pandemic.

But at the same time that sales taxes have gone down, other tax revenues may start to go up. As more people leverage the freedom of remote work to relocate from urban to rural areas, property taxes in some municipalities will rise. And as more people order take-out and use online delivery services, these digital platforms like Uber and DoorDash present yet another lucrative tax revenue stream.

A similar story can be told about a plethora of different tax revenue streams. With stagnant business growth in 2020 and many offices retooling their employees for remote work, business licensing taxes and occupational taxes are likely to decrease. At the same, alcohol sales have increased dramatically and alcohol taxes have grown with them.

What we see across revenue streams, industries, municipalities, and states is a shifting tax landscape, where previously reliable revenue streams are drying up while others are widening and increasing. The key for governments will be their ability to comprehend this changing tax landscape and tap into it effectively by maximizing compliance.

There’s a lot that governments can do, but maximizing compliance will start with an internal audit. As tax revenue streams shift and change, governments need assurance they’re getting what is owed to them. But all too often, cumbersome paper processing, opaque data, and an over-reliance on manual work can hamstring a government’s capacity to get a clear overview of patterns of compliance or noncompliance, especially when tax realities are rapidly changing. A comprehensive, internal audit can ensure that doesn’t happen.

In the same vein, governments must prioritize adopting technology that streamlines tax collection and administration. An automated tax management system, for example, can make sure governments get their tax revenue quickly, easily, and with a minimum of human error. Many of these systems are cloud based and can be quickly and easily implemented for a jurisdiction. Meanwhile, citizens are expecting and often times demanding  an easier and more convenient way to meet their obligations  So, if governments don’t have the digital portals and online payment options that facilitate paying taxes, licensing fees, and fines, then a lot of revenue will potentially get lost in the confusion and upheaval.

These are just a few examples, but the list goes on. The main idea is that better administrative practices and new technology can help governments enhance tax compliance by making tax collection and payment easier and more efficient for both governments and citizens, while also rooting out noncompliance. By doing so, state and local governments can unlock their 2021 revenue streams and face the future of our changing economy and society with strength and success.

Digital Government: Now More Critical Than Ever

Now more than ever, public sector entities need to invest in digital initiatives that can preserve documentation and make their offices more accessible in times of crisis.

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Though getting started may seem like a gargantuan task, there are ways to make the transformation a painless and exciting journey for those involved.

In this episode, I talk with Ann Kirkbride, Business Unit Director at Avenu Insights & Analytics, about how digitization can benefit local governments.

What we discussed:

  • Why investment in digitalization critical for preservation and the future
  • How can a local government start digitizing their documentation
  • How can offices offer “traditionally analogue” essential services during crisis
  • What steps are non-negotiable when digitizing local governments
  • Highlighted the most influential digitization successes

This discussion with Ann Kirkbride was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

Building A Crisis-Resistant Digital Government

We learned many things in 2020, but one of the most important lessons is the value of building crisis-resistant government by adopting a digital strategy. As we slowly start returning to a “new normal,” it appears that remote work, virtual conferencing, and a more digital-first economy are all here to stay. Avenu’s Ann Kirkbride explains in her recent op-ed, the importance of having a digital strategy and steps you can take today.

Why You Need a Security Strategy for Long-Term Remote Operations

In a rush to mobilize workers in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, many local government agencies overlooked security measures and made themselves vulnerable to various cyberattacks.

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In 2021, agencies are beginning to understand that the long term effects of a remote workforce aren’t going to go away so easily. In light of these long-term operations, local governments need to brace themselves for cyberattacks by designing a strategy to keep infrastructure and data secure.

In this episode, Brennan Middleton talks with Roger Murphy, Director of Information Technology Managed Services at Avenu Insights & Analytics, about strategies local governments should implement to enhance security for their remote workforce.

We also discussed:

  • What local governments should be doing to prepare for cyber attacks.
  • Which security strategies governments should focus on first.
  • How organizations can train their employees on digital threats.
  • What to consider when moving an aging workforce into a remote environment.

This discussion with Roger Murphy was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

How Automation Helps Local Governments Thrive in a Post-Covid World

Across the country, cities are facing severe budget shortfalls because of COVID-19 and its consequences.

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In this landscape, city and county governments are struggling to consistently do more with less.

As local governments are looking for new ways to balance their budget and streamline their services, they should look to this innovative solution: automated revenue management.

In this episode, I talk with Christy Cato, Vice President of Tax Administration at Avenu Insights & Analytics, about how automation can benefit local governments.

What we discussed:

  • How automated revenue management works.
  • How automation can generate new revenue and keep employees on staff.
  • How governments can implement automation for more efficient workflows.
  • What processes you should avoid automating.

This discussion with Christy Cato was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

Local Government Insights: An Introduction to Avenu’s New Podcast

For governments to serve their communities, they need solutions they can depend on.

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That’s where Avenu Insights & Analytics steps in. Whether it be funding insights grounded in regional revenue trends or administrative functions such as record management and human resource operations, Avenu’s software solutions are built on proven success at every level of government operation.

And now, they’ve started a podcast to provide insights from and for government officials of all different government sizes and departments.

In this inaugural episode of Local Government Insights, producer Kelsey Kohrs talks with Brennan Middleton, director of marketing at Avenu Insights & Analytics, about the mission and vision of this podcast.
Brennan also talked about:

  • His marketing experience and his role at Avenu.
  • How Avenu helps local governments sustain a high quality of life.
  • What listeners can expect to hear in future episodes.
This discussion with Brennan Middleton was taken from our show Local Government Insights. If you want to hear more episodes like this one, check us out on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

Avenu Launches “Local Government Insights” Podcast

Avenu recently launched a new podcast: “Local Government Insights.” This podcast will introduce you to local government leaders who bringing innovative technology into the public sector, and partners who have helped create cutting edge solutions.

The series is “Local Government Insights” and targets areas of interest for state and local governments. It will cover a wide range of topics such as optimizing operations, improving services for constituents, and maximizing revenue without raising taxes.

We are interviewing subject matter experts from within Avenu and through formal partnerships and alliances we have formed. Some of the first episodes include:

  • Local Government Insights: An Intro to Avenu’s New Podcast
  • How Automation Helps Local Governments Thrive in a Post-Covid World
  • Why You Need a Security Strategy for Long-Term Remote Operations

The podcasts are available on Apple, and all your other favorite podcast platforms. Take a moment listen on your favorite platform. We would appreciate your reviews and feedback as we continue to release upcoming episodes.

The Pandemic Put Pressure On The Government Workforce: How Automation May Provide Relief

COVID-19 has upset business as usual for the American economy, and businesses have hemorrhaged jobs over the last year to compensate for COVID-19’s impact. But governments are among those that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. State and local governments lost close to 1,000,000 jobs in 2020. Governments need a way to reverse this trend and emerge stronger in 2021.

As Avenu’s CEO, Paul Colangelo, writes in his latest op-ed for Forbes, automation can empower state and local governments to meet the challenges of the pandemic head-on. With automation, governments can save jobs, streamline their workflow, unlock hidden revenue and regain lost efficiency.

But state and local governments will need to make sure their ready to automate their operations. A comprehensive data audit and updates to their IT infrastructure, as well as new employee training programs, may all be necessary to make an automation effort a success.

Find our more here.

Local Governments Today Have an Opportunity to Build Trust: Smarter Digital Transformation is Key

Governments are rapidly upgrading their digital offerings to meet heightened demand for quality government services during the coronavirus pandemic. This shift to digital presents many opportunities, but it also comes with unique challenges. In particular, governments must build and maintain citizens’ trust in digital government.

As Louis Schiavone, Avenu’s President, explains in his latest op-ed in GovTech, citizens don’t trust their government when it falls short of their expectations, and most people today expect digital services to be quick, efficient and convenient. Conversely, citizens will trust a government that is transparent, intuitive and effective. The best way for governments to build trust today is to deliver intuitive digital experiences tailored to fit citizens’ unique needs and wants.

Read on here to learn more.

 

 

Avenu Podcast Series Launched

Local Government Insights is now available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts.