The coronavirus pandemic has decimated the revenue of state and local governments. Businesses are closing and citizens are spending less, generating deficits in tax income vital to many government budgets. In response, governments are firing employees and cutting key services just in order to get through the 2020 budgeting season.
But governments have access to an alternative. Paul Colangelo, CEO of Avenu, outlines this alternative in his most recent op-ed. Automated, data-driven and tech-enabled revenue management can rescue government budgets without requiring governments to eliminate employees and services or raise taxes. The key is leveraging new digital and automation technology to unlock revenue hidden behind opaque internal processes and poorly optimized government processes.
Read the full article in Forbes about the steps governments can take today to discover hidden revenue and weather the fiscal impact of the coronavirus crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic has severely impacted the economy. As a result, tax revenue is down, and many local governments are struggling to withstand significant budget shortfalls.
But cash-strapped governments can access new revenue simply by updating and automating their internal systems. In his new op-ed for Forbes, Paul Colangelo, Avenu’s CEO, explains why automation is imperative today and how it can help cities become more resilient against crises like COVID-19.
At its core, automation is increasing efficiency and productivity through digital technology. Far too many governments today are still reliant on outdated paper processes and inefficient manual labor. Automation can streamline the public workforce and equip governments to maximize their revenue streams while delivering higher quality services to their constituents.
Through his work at Avenu, CEO Paul Colangelo has seen his fair share of major crises and provided invaluable guidance to cities and organizations looking to stay strong during a disruptive event.
What is the first priority for government entities and organizations worried about a crisis?
Maintaining a steady revenue stream while ensuring your employees are prepared to work under unprecedented conditions is key. Large scale crises directly threaten existing revenue structures. At the same time, work efficiency is undermined by disruptions to the normal work patterns. For these reasons, a crisis can easily overwhelm a poorly prepared organization. The very first priority has to be putting a plan in place to unlock new revenue and keep employees efficient.
How should organizational leaders approach crisis preparation?
The core task of a leader during a crisis is communication. You have to communicate well, both internally or externally, in order to weather disruption and thrive under conditions of uncertainty and change. Good communication is simply indispensable; even the most robust organizations will fumble a major crisis if they neglect to communicate.
What do organizational leaders need to know in order to prepare the most effective crisis communications?
Every organization today thrives on good data, and so internal data collection and data analysis are crucial to building up the specific knowledge base you need to act intelligently and communicate effectively. Organizations must perform internal risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities, and they must study and understand their own inner workings. Many government entities, for example, are sitting on hidden revenue simply because they don’t have the data available to identify lost tax revenue streams or discover regulatory non-compliance. Being equipped to unlock that hidden revenue could be lifesaving in a crisis situation.
What tools can organizations use to better prepare?
Automation is an invaluable tool in any organization’s toolbox. Automated revenue management systems and automated data analysis can both eliminate costly human errors and provide more transparent data. At the same time, automated systems can free up human work hours for more valuable labor and allow organizations to direct employees towards essential tasks during a crisis. And automated systems are disruption proof; good automation can mean the difference between success and failure where flexibility and continuity are key.
What other resources should organizations consider in preparing for a crisis?
I think that partnerships are an often overlooked and unduly neglected aspect for crisis preparation. Many third-party vendors can provide additional services at scale that can help an organization overcome any internal weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Public-private partnerships, and even public partnerships between governments or districts, enable resource sharing and coordinated problem solving at a level that can be vital when revenue is tight and the crisis presents unprecedented challenges.
What is your final takeaway?
In my many years of experience, one thing in particular has impressed itself upon me: most cities and organizations simply aren’t prepared for a crisis, and once a crisis happens, it’s almost always too late to start preparing. Organizational leaders have a responsibility to act early. That will mean making investments in infrastructure and technology. There’s simply no substitute for doing so.
Avenu Insights & Analytics (Avenu) and SAFEbuilt, a community development services company, have entered into a strategic alliance to provide local government customers a unique revenue enhancement assessment tool. This alliance seeks to help local governments rebuild and recover from this national pandemic.
This project has been driven by two simple and critical goals: Create a tool to help the two companies’ 4,000 state and local government customers recover from near term budget pressures and to help them find new revenue opportunities.
The strategic alliance brings together the skills of two of the nation’s most innovative service providers to state and local governments. Avenu provides compliance auditing, revenue discovery, and tax administration, as well as market leading software and an analytics platform that automates and streamlines administration functions, from digitizing building plans to a variety of records management functions. SAFEbuilt has worked with more than 1,100 communities nationwide to supply transformative building, infrastructure, and maintenance solutions along with other professional services to build safer and more modern communities.
“Both Avenu and SAFEbuilt are in the business of serving local governments and communities,” said Avenu CEO Paul Colangelo “Amid the current COVID-19 crisis, our customers need solutions that can help get them on an economic road to recovery now. This partnership affords our customers with a wider array of solutions to help them with today’s unprecedented challenges.”
SAFEbuilt Chief Revenue Officer Joe DeRosa said it’s a natural fit for the two companies’ customers: “Our companies share similar values and culture. We are both dedicated to creating innovative solutions that increase the success of the cities and counties where we live and work. Our objective is to help our customers exit this pandemic in a data-driven, growth-oriented manner that makes them stronger than they were before. Working with Avenu allows us to introduce best-in-class solutions to our customers with the goal of enabling better and smarter short- and long-term growth.”
Founded in 1992, SAFEbuilt supports municipal governments and public and private corporations with community transformation services, including expert and professional community development, infrastructure, and maintenance services to over 1,100 communities across 24 states. SAFEbuilt offers customized solutions that are built to fit their client’s development needs including stabilizing budgets, maximizing efficiencies, improving customer services, and adaptable staffing. To learn more, visit www.safebuilt.com.
About Avenu Insights & Analytics
As a leading provider in State and Local government solutions, Avenu has partnered with over 3,000 State and Local governments to boost revenue, optimize operations, and reduce costs. Avenu provides revenue enhancement and administrative solutions that uncover new sources of untapped revenue and deliver software that streamlines day-to-day operations. State and local governments partner with Avenu to increase revenue without raising taxes, streamline internal operations, and improve services by enhancing connectivity for constituents. Avenu is a portfolio company of Mill Point Capital. To learn more, visit www.avenuinsights.com.
Media Contact: Corinne Aycock, Avenu Marketing Manager, (Avenu) (703) 863-1366