Information Technology, The public sector has become an important client of the consulting market in recent decades. The main indicator of this may have been the transfer of the headquarters of the giant Booz Allen Hamilton to Washington DC, the US capital, in 1992, to be closer to its main client: the federal government. Of its annual revenue of around $5 billion, an estimated 99% comes from the public sector. Other major consultancies such as EY (Ernst & Young), McKinsey, Bain, and Falconi have also been expanding their government portfolio.
In Brazil, the Consultancy in Municipal Administration (Conan) is exclusively dedicated to assisting organizations from different cities, providing its services to city halls, city councils, and autarchies, among others. In the market for 35 years and headquartered in the capital of São Paulo, it serves almost a hundred customers spread across São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and Bahia, the state in which it recently opened a branch.
The demand for the help of these consultants grew with two recent laws, which forced the city to review practices: the Access to Information Law, which regulates the public availability of data to the citizen, and the Fiscal Responsibility Law, which provides for greater control over public Accounts.
Fabian Rodrigues Caetano, now director of Conan, saw the company’s development up close. The son of one of the founders, he grew up very involved with the public sector. “My father worked at the city hall, but he realized that, at that time, he was going to have difficulties growing and acquiring new knowledge. That’s when he founded Conan and started working for, and no longer in the public sector”, he jokes.
“When I was a child, he sometimes took me to city halls. That’s when I realized that public servants are very lacking in training, and this possibility of helping them is what I like most about what I do”, says Fabian, who graduated in Information Technology from Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado. (FAAP) and since then has focused on the development of projects involving IT.
It bets on a complete service, which takes care of the administrative, legal, and technological needs of the clients. “We are not hired by area, but to provide consultancy as a whole”, he explains. This largely explains the varied composition of the team: while most of the 170 employees are administrators or lawyers, there are also engineers, systems analysts, and programmers. The latter account for the development of powerful IT applications, one of the key elements in the consultancy’s strategy.
The folkloric scene of the public office worker sitting behind a wooden counter, using a typewriter and a protocol stamp is something Conan strives to deconstruct. 20 years ago the company began to invest in the technology area, and today it develops its own technological solutions to optimize specific procedures in the public sector.
Imagine the following situation: a certain city needs to increase its revenue. Consultants may suggest, for example, the introduction of electronic invoices as a way of improving inspection and reducing tax evasion. In view of this, the legal team assists in the elaboration of the law that will oblige establishments to use this system. The technology team, in turn, implements the program in the city hall that best suits this need and trains employees.
Currently, Conan works with its own system of invoices in the cloud, which allows for greater agility in issuance, and remote access, in addition to cross-referencing information and strategic insights. “It is possible to know, for example, which is the most active service in the region, and from there seek to attract companies in this sector”, explains Fabian, stressing that the data delivered always seeks to help the public manager in his decisions.
What the State expects from consultancies is often a transfer of organizational expertise from the private sector to the public sector. For Fabian, however, having some experience in public administration is a differential. From consultants, he expects a deeper understanding of accounting, planning, and account plans in the public sector. In relation to lawyers, it is necessary to have mastery of tax law, bidding, human resources, or public law. For the technology team, there is no specific demand for specialization, but affinity with the government area will always be welcome.