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Startup AI4Govt Makes Splash in Alabama With Workflow Tech

The company, led by a former product manager for Apple and Groupon, wants to help agencies — and even other gov tech companies — automate workflows and integrate data. AI4Govt has already won a contract in Mobile, Ala.

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Government spends a lot of time and money on technology.

But so often, public agencies cannot get the software right, at least according to Ni Xu, one of the newest players in the gov tech space.

He is CEO and co-founder of a startup called AI4Govt, whose workforce automation software is designed to help governments provide faster services and encourage more data integration.

The company, founded in 2021, recently won a four-year contract with the municipal court in Mobile, Ala. According to Xu, AI4Govt technology helps court employees submit motions while also automatically dispatching motions to court clerks and other workers depending on workflow rules set by software administrators.

Xu sees himself as bringing private-sector efficiencies to the public sector as agencies — driven to bring more services and processes to the digital realm — seek out better software that can help them save time and money.

“A lot of software isn’t that great, compared to private industry — in some cases it’s 20 to 30 years behind,” he told Government Technology in describing his attraction to the industry, where automating workflows stands as a main goal for public agencies.

That trend started well before the pandemic but has perhaps taken on increasing urgency amid not only the effort to get beyond paper processes but a stubborn labor shortage.

As AI4Govt puts it to potential clients, the workflow and data integration software designed for Salesforce, ServiceNow and other “modern tech stacks” doesn’t really work well with software created specifically for use by governments.

“Most gov tech companies try to build another closed system with newer technology, but governments can’t easily move away from the software they have invested so much in,” Xu said. “Instead, we complement the ecosystem by creating an open government workflow platform on top of the existing systems. We establish ourselves as gov tech partners.”

So far, 19 investors have signed on to back AI4Govt.

That group that includes Mitchell Weiss, a Harvard professor who was chief of staff to the mayor of Boston from early 2010 to early 2014; and Nick Sinai, a venture capitalist who teaches at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and who worked as deputy chief technology officer of the U.S. under President Obama. Crunchbase reports that the company has raised at least $557,000.

Xu, a software engineer, attended Harvard, taking classes at the Kennedy school and also earning an MBA. He worked for Apple and Groupon before deciding that the best way to drive “social impact” and create a successful business was via gov tech.

“We provide middleware for government and legal tech space,” he said, adding that his company exists not only to serve public agency clients directly, but other — and larger — gov tech firms. Customers of AI4Govt can “pay as they go” when using the company’s technology, though Xu envisions a broader software-as-a-service model.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in New Orleans.