In June 2023, Nate Haskins was named CEO of GovSpend. With an extensive background in data management, Nate brings a unique skillset to the helm and is well-equipped to lead GovSpend into a new chapter of data delivery and AI technology. In the following Q&A, Nate gives us a peek into what’s top of mind for him as we head into 2024.

What excites you about GovSpend and the advantage it gives to professionals in the public sector marketplace?

Government procurement should be transparent and efficient. With troves of information available, the marketplace should be a breeding ground for data innovation, revealing opportunities. By assembling data from numerous sources and connecting disparate datasets, GovSpend surfaces insights to drive results in the public sector. 

I was introduced to GovSpend during the diligence process as Thompson Street Capital Partners evaluated making an investment in the business. I fell in love with their mission to arm buyers and sellers in the public sector with intelligence, enabling them to be more proactive and competitive in their markets and in their spending. From public meeting transcripts discussing planned spending to Bids & RFPs announced to contracts awarded, and finally the actual purchase orders themselves and their individual line items – we endeavor to tell the story behind every government purchase.

There’s simply no sales enablement or procurement intelligence tool like it.

What is your background and how does it position you for success in your new role? 

At its heart, GovSpend is a data company, and I’m a data wonk. I was previously Chief Data Officer at S&P Global, the massive data, analytics, and benchmarking business. There I helped build complex data pipelines to produce unique datasets, largely supporting investment-related workflows. I learned and developed techniques and processes to manage data processes at scale, including acquiring and normalizing data from myriad sources in all types of formats and creating commercial information products.

At GovSpend the challenge is similar, as the core data assets are mined and aggregated from tens of thousands of Federal, state, and local agencies and educational institutions sources. The nouns are different but the verbs are the same.

How do you plan to leverage your expertise in data management to drive the strategic direction of the company? 

Public records law is complex and varies by state, making it difficult to operationalize gathering and normalizing data from government agencies. But that effort results in transparency and insight that is like a cheat code, an unfair advantage for those who subscribe to GovSpend.

Data is the core of the GovSpend value proposition, and increasing data coverage and quality is a top objective. To deliver, we’re investing in our people, processes, and core technology to build a world-class data organization and delight our customers. Today we are dramatically improving the overall volumes, quality, and refresh rates of data – and we’re not letting up.

How do you envision the role of artificial intelligence and machine learning in enhancing our data management capabilities and driving innovation within the organization?

The most exciting thing about the future of GovSpend is pushing the bounds of what’s possible with emerging technologies, especially around Generative AI. Given the massive volume of unique data that we mine – much of it unstructured – we are perfectly positioned to take advantage of AI.

We think about the AI opportunity across three data functions: acquisition, enrichment, and discovery. This includes everything from AI-powered ‘bots efficiently harvesting data from various sources, to augmenting our data offerings with related data, to enabling new ways of discovering insight on the GovSpend platform. 

One specific example is classifying purchase order records. Using AI, we are matching jargon-filled, unstandardized item descriptions with the appropriate code from an established taxonomy of products and services. This will transform search within our product, allowing users to target categories of spending with fewer inputs. 

We are also enriching our data by using AI to find connections between previously disparate datasets. For example, we are cross-referencing our database of millions of hours of public meetings with our vast library of Bids & RFPs. This will allow us to alert interested parties when government agencies are discussing upcoming projects and other planned spending.

And we’re building out the capability to interrogate our massive repository of files using semantic search. We’re training chatbots using our unique archive of government documents to help answer bespoke questions from our customers. 

It’s rare that a day goes by without a new possibility arising.

What do you see as the biggest challenges at GovSpend, and how do you plan to position the company to address them effectively?

We’re an established and growing company with plenty of opportunities in front of us, but certainly not without challenges.  

We have conviction that our solutions are game-changers for companies participating in the public sector marketplace, but it’s a challenge to get in front of them. Once we’re able to connect with sales and marketing professionals who are charged with growth in the public sector, our solutions come alive. We can quickly show specific Agencies talking about buying decisions and RFPs in their area. If we know their competitors, we can show them specific take-out targets. Its value is immediately apparent, but first we need to find those customers who are willing to try something new.

Second, with so much data, it’s easy for our product to overwhelm customers – for the noise to drown out the signals. To combat this, we are working to improve our product’s usability and the quality of the data, to help identify and present more needles, rather than rely on our users to comb through haystacks.

Any final words?

At GovSpend, we have a tremendous opportunity in front of us. And we realize it’s not enough to simply respond to what customers are specifically requesting. Rather, we are seeking out the intersection of what our customers value and what’s possible. We are anticipating and innovating, and those activities are fun! Executing on projects at the cutting edge of the fast-moving AI space would not be possible without our team of talented engineers and product managers, led by Sam Greene and Bradley Scott, our CTO and chief product officer, respectively. They bring ideas, know-how, and energy that keep us expanding our view on what’s possible.

If you participate in the public sector marketplace and haven’t looked at GovSpend recently, it’s worth you taking a moment to talk with us about your challenges. GovSpend may be able to help! 

About the Author: Anne Halstead

With 15+ years of experience in marketing and communications, Anne's focus has zigged and zagged into multiple disciplines, including merchandising, event management, lead generation strategy, and user experience. Throughout her career, she has learned how to build brand loyalty through top-notch customer experience and communication, and is passionate about delivering relevant and insightful content to GovSpend's audience.

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