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The New CEO of GCOM Maps Out Her Gov Tech, AI Vision

It started with civic service in New York’s streets, says Lisa Mascolo, the first leader for post-merger GCOM. Now, after jobs at IBM and Accenture, she must fuse corporate cultures while dealing with AI and other trends.

Young woman working on computer at table in office, closeup. Banner design
As Lisa Mascolo started her new job last month as CEO of GCOM — the government technology firm that just merged with OnCore Consulting — she recalled how, during her childhood in New Jersey, she would “beg” her grandfather to take her to New York City with him.

This was no Big Apple tourist wish.

Instead, it was part of a larger spark that would shape her professional life and lead to the upper tiers of gov tech in 2023 — a job that will require her to bring together two different corporate cultures.

It was the late 1960s and her grandfather worked for what is now called the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection. As Mascolo told Government Technology, he basically worked as “311 on feet,” carrying around a “stack of trouble tickets” and going from address to address to resolve citizen complaints.

“I certainly got the bug for consulting and problem solving from him,” she said.

Now comes one of the main challenges of her decades of gov tech experience: Making sure GCOM and OnCore come together as seamlessly as possible, while positioning the new company to find further growth in an industry working to sharpen its digital edge and catch up with consumer and citizen expectations.

The merger, announced in late August, combined companies strong in health and human services, taxes, public safety, economic development, nutrition, community health and other programs operated by state and local governments.

OnCore Consulting has a strong focus on California while GCOM has clients in 32 states, including 13 of the 15 most populous.

At the time of the merger, the companies said the deal “creates a nationwide large-scale digital software and solutions company focused solely on the public sector market, providing outcome-driven, repeatable software and services.”

That probably cannot happen unless the company’s 1,300 or so employees work as one team — an issue likely to confront even more more gov tech executives in the near future as consolidations increase not only among companies but public agencies.

As Mascolo put it, OnCore Consulting “is an entity that grew from the ground up, organically,” while GCOM is a “result of putting together companies,” which means its culture is more of an amalgamation of those different firms.

Even with those potentially stark differences, Mascolo — whose experience includes leadership roles at IBM and Accenture — said that fusing those two cultures might be easier in the gov tech space than in other parts of the economy.

That’s because the employees at OnCore and GCOM share “a common commitment to the cause — we help government be even better,” she said. “Both teams are going to learn from each other.”

One of Mascolo’s highest-profile jobs before GCOM was managing director for IBM GBS U.S. Federal, working on tech, cybersecurity and other issues for federal clients. She also was managing director of U.S. Federal Client Service Group for Accenture, and CEO of Optimos, an IT provider for government, among other positions.

“I’m a big believer in leadership development, and I am particularly passionate about teaching leadership,” she said.

She wants to set an example at GCOM of proactive leadership and encourage her new employees to hold their own leaders accountable, Mascolo said. Because gov tech doesn’t usually involve immediate life-or-death stakes, industry leaders have the “luxury” of listening and learning.

But that doesn’t mean mistakes go unnoticed.

She remembered the experience of leading Optimos, a relatively small firm compared to her other employers, and realizing how important her decisions were, and how vital it was for her to learn lessons quickly.

“If I make a serious error in judgment, it’s possible that people won’t eat” because the company might fail, she said.

She takes over as CEO as the entire industry — really, most of the economy — has what amounts to a fever for artificial intelligence. Everyone seems focused on AI; every new product and service seems to involve AI.

But the real question for company leaders, including in gov tech, seems to be what areas of AI should command valuable focus and resources.

Mascolo said she spent a lot of time in her previous job thinking about taxes and revenue — more specifically, about what she called “this country’s decline in voluntary compliance rates.”

AI could help reverse that trend, she said, perhaps via mobile services that make filing taxes more efficient and less intimidating.

“The opportunity is there to help government collect what is legally owed,” she said, adding that the money would “buy a lot of school lunches for little kids” or fund similar human services.

Mascolo said her job is not just about combining two corporate cultures or building the next great tech tool. It’s about more inclusion.

“Inclusion is the revolution,” she said, adding that more inclusion means more points of view. “And that can drive even better outcomes.”
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 Wisconsin.