Tod Ewasko, Civix VP of DevOps, On Modernizing GovTech
Driving Force Behind the New Center of Excellence, Elections Operations Center, and Elections Solutions Says, “Collaboration is Key”.
ORLANDO, FL – The world is rapidly changing, and the Covid-era has underscored the longstanding need to modernize government technology. Public agencies that were ahead of the curve when the pandemic struck were able to continue meeting mission expectations, while those relying on legacy and paper-based systems fell short. The crisis revealed what a failure to modernize could mean for economies, elections, and the delivery of public services.
IT modernization can no longer be a far-off goal – it is an urgent necessity. While the need is nothing new, the task has been perceived as so massive and daunting that many governments have opted to deploy series of upgrades over time. The pandemic, though, could be the catalyst for shifting from one-offs to a modernization of processes for delivering better outcomes.
The technologies and best practices are available, and that is where Civix comes in. The software and services firm delivers a range of solutions all aimed at transforming the public sector. A driving force behind the company’s innovation is Tod Ewasko, a former professional baseball player turned computer scientist who was tapped early this summer to head up development operations for the government market, which provides voter registration and election management software to more than 20 states.
He leads the team at Civix’s new Center of Excellence, a centralized location for the company’s software development operations. With whiteboards, group office configurations, and meeting areas throughout, the workspace was designed to foster collaboration, an essential ingredient to Ewasko’s proven recipe for success.
“It’s a reflection of our culture,” he says. “We are all about collaboration, both internally and with our clients. We see ourselves as true thought-partners, helping governments solve very complex problems.”
Ewasko knows a thing or two about complex problems.
He stepped into his new role amid Stay at Home orders and with a consequential national election looming. His job was to quickly deliver tools to help administrators manage an election unlike any other before.
“The gravity of the situation was not lost on me, and it’s been a motivating force,” he said. “Our entire team is committed to empowering our clients to go into election day with complete confidence.”
Demonstrating this commitment, Civix restructured its multidisciplinary elections team of over 100 into an Elections Operation Center (EOC) ahead of the General Election. It’s a fundamentally different approach, Ewasko says, that is designed specifically to help election officials across the U.S. succeed on November 3, 2020 and beyond.
“Right now, we have one mission, and that’s to help states hold successful elections,” he said.
The EOC, which provides on-call subject matter experts as well as 24/7 monitoring among other benefits, has already been battle tested. The team helped support primaries run-off elections in states across the country.
Ewasko and Civix’s EOC also helped tackle one of the greatest election challenges exacerbated by the pandemic: the dramatic rise in absentee ballot requests. With the virus showing no signs of slowing down, experts predict an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots this fall, having seen them increase tenfold in some states’ recent primary elections. This has prompted concerns about voting systems being overwhelmed by the volume of mail-in ballots, which could also mean delays in ballot tallies that have been shown to erode public confidence in the results. The virus has also wreaked havoc on in-person polling places, with circumstances leading to confusion and long lines.
Election officials needed a failproof system to help avoid catastrophe, and they needed it within a few short weeks.
Ewasko leaned in. He’s a master at efficiency who has a history of getting things done. He’s worked with a number of software companies to overhaul their processes and deliver solutions. In his most recent role with a forensic software provider, he worked with the FBI and local law enforcement to leverage massive amounts of data to solve crimes.
“That work became a meaningful part of my life, and that’s how I feel about what we’re doing here at Civix to help states during these extraordinary times,” said Ewasko. “And it’s not just me. Everyone on our team is passionate about transforming the public sector.”
Ewasko applied that same passion and dedication to helping two Secretary of State clients lead the nation in online absentee ballot applications.
To make the technology widely available and allow states to quickly go live, Ewasko led the development of a new Mobile Responsive Online Absentee Ballot solution. It can be configured to meet state requirements, and it can integrate with current systems to provide for rapid deployment without impacting current operations.
Ewasko cites the company’s relationships with so many states as a key component to quickly delivering the online absentee ballot application and other next generation solutions.
“With such a large portfolio of state government clients, we’re a conduit for sharing best practices and lessons learned,” he said. “We apply this to our approach to software development. We listen openly and gather input from all our state government partners to solve for the full breadth of a particular issue. This drives a better solution, and it means we’re thinking two or three features ahead.”
“When I started with Civix, I was most excited by the ability to deliver innovation quickly, and here we are,” said Ewasko. “Over the past few months, we’ve built upon our technology to meet today’s challenges, and now we’re working on tomorrow’s.”
For Mike Wons, the president of Civix Government, tomorrow is not far off.
“We’re laser focused on speed of action,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have Tod on our team, which includes the best and the brightest from the public and private sectors. Our deep expertise means we understand our clients and are able to deploy quickly.”
“We’re a trusted advisor to states, and we don’t take our role lightly,” Wons continued.