Lafayette Consolidated Government’s digital transformation is tasty, indeed
Fiddles and washboards, and swamp pop. Acadian cuisine that tastes like home no matter where you’re from. A visit to Louisiana’s Lafayette Parish promises a rich experience of bayou culture that will stay with you for the rest of your days. Encompassing the municipalities of Lafayette, Carencro, Broussard, Scott, Youngsville, and Duson, the parish is home to nearly 250,000 people in a 269-square-mile radius, all supported by Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG).
The Information Services & Technology Department (IS&T) provides enterprise technology services to LCG and is responsible for implementing modern tech tools and systems to run the parish efficiently and strengthen its communities. The 33-person department provides automation, infrastructure, software, website presence, security policies, and user-support to LCG.
Randy Gray, LCG’s Chief Information Officer, leads IS&T, overseeing all aspects of the parish’s tech footprint, including public safety, the enterprise Geographical Information System, infrastructure, software, web development, records management, help desk, and ERP.
The native Louisianan left the private sector to guide LCG in its mission to use technology to provide the most efficient and effective services possible to its citizens while increasing internal efficiency and saving taxpayer dollars.
Josh Guillory, the current Lafayette Mayor-President, took LCG’s helm in January 2020 with a mandate to “make use of every technological, analytical, compliance, and motivational tool available” for the organization's digital transformation. In addition to better serving its residents, the effort is also focused on creating a more business-friendly environment in the parish.
“When Mayor-President Guillory took office, he immediately set the standard of breaking down silos and getting things done fast,” Gray said. Given the complexity and regulatory aspects of their operations, steering any transformation typically take more time in a government setting than in a corporate one. In LCG’s case, the process has been moving at a decent clip.
As Gray said of IS&T, “Though it may not operate as fast as the private sector, we do a really good job as a local government.”
His first project upon joining the government was to create an all-in-one service portal for parish residents, 311lafayette.services. Together with a skeleton crew and then-communications director Cydra Wingerter, now LCG’s Chief Administrative Officer, Gray initially planned to find the most user-friendly 311 system in use in governments of a similar size and use it as a template for LCG.
The idea didn’t pan out. “When I looked at other 311 sites, I found it very hard to make service requests, and I didn’t find one I really liked, so we decided to do our own,” he said.
They designed the portal to provide easy access to non-emergency police services, from filing non-emergency police reports as well as other service requests such as reporting litter and potholes. When citizens go to 311lafayette.services, the service requests are displayed in large, easy-to-read icons instead of clicking through multiple links to request the service they need.
Now other cities view the Lafayette 311 site as the gold standard. “I’m very proud of that,” he added.
As the government’s CIO, Gray brought private-sector change management and customer-experience strategies with him. As with nearly all major IT leadership transitions, there was an initial period of uncertainty, particularly around replacing legacy tech. To the credit of Gray and the LCG staff, the period was brief.
“The leadership here isn't interested in making change just for the sake of change,” he stressed. When change is floated, staff and leadership stay open to the conversation. “When change is suggested, let's listen. There’s a good reason for it, so let’s get on board,” Gray said of his change management philosophy. He added that the LCG staff are eager to buy into the visions that the department brings to the table. “That’s the same with the other departments as well,” he added.
If there’s one word that evokes the spirit of the area and its municipalities, it’s flavor. It’s a memorable “you’ll know it when you feel it” experience, one that Guillory wanted to replicate on the LCG website with convenient, colorful, and accessible digital front doors.
“The mayor-president wants to make sure the front doors are looking good. When you enter our city, it looks good and has a really good taste,” Gray laughed. “We're a unique place with incredible culture, music, and food, so our digital front door has to be just as appealing. Our website needed to have that fun, happy feeling that people get when they come to Lafayette.”
The IS&T team took on the challenge. Despite having a very small staff, they built out the site in a year. With its colorful graphics, welcoming presence, and clear pathways to information, the result neatly achieves the organization’s goals.
IS&T relies on an ecosystem of trusted vendor partners to support its digital shifts and collaborate on solutions. “They are true partners that know what our goals are and what we want to accomplish,” Gray said, noting that the partnerships are a collaborative exchange. “They hold our feet to the fire, making sure we all follow the agreed-upon path we’ve established.”
At present, Gray is spearheading the government’s latest initiative, 10-10-10, an ambitious LCG-wide push to do 10% more with 10% less over 10 years. The push touches every department in many different ways, but as LCG steps into its digital future, technology will be the engine for its forward movement. IS&T works with every department, troubleshooting existing tech and making sure it’s applied to its greatest advantage, as well as helping to find non-tech opportunities to meet program goals.
“We're in our second year of that right now, and already finding some really great ways to be more efficient and more effective with the dollars that we have,” Gray said. From what we know about the spirit of Louisiana and the talent within LCG, it’s a sure bet those ways have just the right flavor.
Lafayette Parish -- Bienvenu à Lafayette! Recognized for so many different accolades, we are a community that embraces technology, boasts a strong university, known for its love of sports, and celebrates arts and culture.
With an estimated population of more than 225,000, centrally-located Lafayette Parish (county) serves as an economic center of Louisiana. The region's world-renowned joie de vivre (joy of living) creates a unique environment for work and play, but Lafayette is also home to a world-class workforce, an integrated transportation network, a diversified business base, preeminent high-tech infrastructure, and a metropolitan appeal.
We hope you take time to explore and experience the many amenities our community has to offer. If you are considering relocating, we have no doubt that you will love to call Lafayette Parish home! For more information on Lafayette Parish visit www.lafayette.org.
705 W University Ave.
Lafayette, LA 70506
Telephone 337- 291-8200