AUTHORS

Barrett and Greene have done original research and writing in fields pertaining to state and local government and are columnists and correspondents for Governing Magazine where they founded the Government Performance Project. They are consultants to the Pew Charitable Trusts government performance unit, senior advisers to the Fels Institute at the University of Pennsylvania and contractors to Bloomberg's government work.

They have helped found, and serve on the boards, of two organizations: GovPerformance and the State Government Workforce Project. They have also served in an advisory capacity to many organizations including the National League of Cities, the Urban Institute, the Governmental Accounting Standards Board; the Association of Government Accountants, the Council of State Governments, the Center for a Better South and others.

Barrett and Greene
September 18, 2014

B&G Report: Why Nevada's Tesla Tax Incentive Is so Risky

Plus more public-sector management news you need to know.
September 4, 2014

B&G Report: L.A.'s 300-Year Problem, Problematic Comparisons and Simple Solutions

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
September 1, 2014

The VA Isn't the Only Agency Mismanaging Waiting Lists

Many state and local agencies fail to properly oversee waiting lists for government programs.
August 21, 2014

B&G Report: Last-Minute Meetings, Mental Health and Data on Child Deaths

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
August 7, 2014

B&G Report: Performance Pay Problems, Shark States and Meaningless Goals

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
August 1, 2014

How Does a City Lose a Backhoe?

From guns to backhoes to vehicles, many municipalities struggle to keep track of their inventories.
July 24, 2014

B&G Report: a Ruling on Retirees, Bad Government Checks and Slow Press Offices

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
July 10, 2014

B&G Report: the Dangers of Comparing Police, Book Recommendations and Unhelpful Media

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
July 1, 2014

The Benefits of Sizing Your State Up to Others

Oregon’s workers’ compensation reform shows benchmarking (when done right) can lead to big gains in efficiency.
June 19, 2014

B&G Report: The Next VA Scandal and the Pros and Cons of Appointed Employee Contracts

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
June 5, 2014

B&G Report: Mobile Apps, the World's Worst Client and Traffic Decongestants

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
June 1, 2014

Politicians Count Their Pennies Too Soon

Elected officials have a tendency to promise big savings and painless cuts that often don’t turn out how they hoped.
May 22, 2014

B&G Report: The Value of Opting In, Outsourced Audits, and Wasted Art Funding

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
May 8, 2014

B&G Report: 'Reinstitution' of the Mentally Ill, Comprehensible Courtrooms, and the Flexibility Stigma

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
May 1, 2014

International Students: More Than Just Dollar Signs to U.S. Universities

When students from abroad attend American universities, their ideas enrich us.
April 17, 2014

B&G Report: Useless Opinions, Outsourcing Outcomes, and Leslie Knope-Inspired Awards

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
April 3, 2014

B&G Report: Ignored Reports, Government-Bought iPods and Auditing Auditors

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
April 1, 2014

The Trouble with Email

Yes, it’s been a boon for government work, but it also opens the door to conflict and confusion.
March 20, 2014

B&G Report: Anonymous Contractors, Unconventional Budgeting and the Seattle Syndrome

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
March 6, 2014

B&G Report: Public Records of the Dead, Empty Committees and Pension Tips

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
March 1, 2014

Happy Birthday, World Wide Web

In its 25 years, the Internet has drastically changed how government works.
February 20, 2014

B&G Report: Kickstarter for Government, the Problem with Practical Policies and Cities' Top 10 Challenges

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
February 6, 2014

B&G Report: Misleading Debt Burdens and Budget Claims and a Chance at More Cash

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
February 1, 2014

3 Ways to Keep Public Employees from Leaving

The turnover rate among young state employees is rising. Raising pay might be a way to change that, but it’s not a practical one.
January 23, 2014

B&G Report: The Fairness of Fines, Disappointing Government Websites, and Wasted Financial Reports

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
January 9, 2014

B&G Report: The Right World Outlook, What School Lessons Are Missing, and the Risks of Inaccurate Data

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
January 1, 2014

The Corporate Playbook for Government

Should governments emulate the business practice of Fortune 500 companies?
December 1, 2013

The Open Government Illusion

Open government is often more rhetoric than reality.
October 17, 2013

The Price of Driving on Bad Roads, 6 Things That Engage Employees, and a Bible for Wellness Programs

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
October 3, 2013

Flawed Thinking About Auditors, the Truth Behind Conferences, and the Value of Field Trips

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
October 1, 2013

Is Earmarking the Best Way to Fund Projects?

It's not black and white, but understanding the pros and cons increases your chances of coming to the right answer for a particular project.
September 19, 2013

Treating Medicaid Users Like Birds, a Case for Humor in Government, and a Pension Guide for Politicians

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
September 5, 2013

High CIO Turnover, Civic Engagement Ideas and States with Sin-Tax Dependency

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
September 1, 2013

Why Do So Many Governments Resist Benchmarking?

Beyond fear of disclosure, there are a number of reasons states and localities may not want to engage in benchmarking.
August 22, 2013

New Yorkers Lose Homes to the Homeless, a Bright Spot for Detroit, and the Key to Increasing Home Values

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
July 25, 2013

Drought of Data Experts, How Much the Highest Paid Governor Makes, and Another Tax Loophole

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
July 11, 2013

A Warning for Big Data, 3 Ways to Handle Citizen Feedback, and Why "Experts" Are Often Wrong

All the public-sector management news you need to know.
June 28, 2013

States and Localities Realize the Importance of Inspectors General

Although not every city and state is eager to form inspector general offices -- New York City leaders, for example, are currently debating the benefits of one for the police department -- the trend toward more of them has been steady.
June 20, 2013

Transportation Trends, the Good News About Bridges, and Funeral Directors' Push to Modernize

All the public-sector management news you should know.
May 23, 2013

Odd License Requirements, How Oklahoma City Lost 1M Pounds, and New Government Jargon

Public-sector management news you should know.
May 21, 2013

Learn About Lean and Other Management Fads from Texts

A text message conversation about how once management fads fade, the best concepts remain.
April 30, 2013

How to Keep Costly Road Repairs to a Minimum

Coordination between public agencies and utilities will keep streets from being torn up, again and again.
April 18, 2013

Iowa's Generous Employee Benefits, Winning Audits, and the Side Effect of Furloughs

Plus: the misconception about failure and more management news
April 4, 2013

Retirement Predictions, Sin Taxes' Side Effects and the Impact of Class Sizes

Plus: a great resource for child welfare workers and more management news
March 29, 2013

The Risks of Relying on User Fees

In the past three years, states and cities have brought in billions of dollars in additional user fees. But there are pitfalls to this form of revenue boost.
March 21, 2013

Winners in Detroit, Useless Data and Rethinking Charitable Giving

Plus: the message that "out of office" replies convey and more management news
March 7, 2013

Detroit’s Fixable Fiscal Problems, Evaluators under Pressure and the Impact of Multitasking

Plus: The importance of parks and more management news
February 28, 2013

Why Haven’t States and Localities Capitalized on Great Management Ideas?

When management meets politics, management is generally the loser. What can policymakers do to heighten the chances that a reform will, at least, be given the opportunity to succeed or fail?
February 21, 2013

The Limits of Bill Gates' Influence, a Formula for Change and Honorable Contracting Reform

Plus: why Portland, Ore., may no longer be a leader in transit planning and more management news
February 7, 2013

The Reality of Being Sick, Job Piracy and Smart Pension Moves

Plus: how a transit authority transformed itself and more management news
January 31, 2013

Cities Strengthening Bonds with Their International Sisters

There's a new push to get these 2,000 international partnerships working together on concrete development programs.
January 24, 2013

Underreported News, a Risk to Public Health and Savings without Sacrificing Service

Plus: a guide for successful collaboration and more management news
January 10, 2013

Florida's Wasted Taxpayer Dollars, Ignoring Auditors and Keeping up with Transit

Plus: government's ongoing war against “the bad guys” and more management news
December 28, 2012

The Difficulties of Measuring Government Success

Take weatherization. It’s harder than advertised to come up with an easy way to assess the program’s success.
December 13, 2012

Restaurant Audits, Longevity Pay and the Value of Public Amenities

Plus: the importance of IT training and more management news
November 30, 2012

The Problem with Preferential Bids for Women, Minorities

Giving preference to women- or minority-owned businesses is a widely acceptable social policy that can run into management problems.
November 29, 2012

Giving Thanks to Government, Bad Data, and "Greening" Jails

Plus: 4 questions to ask before sharing services and more management news
November 8, 2012

Shared Services, Fat Stats, and a New Yorker's Account of Sandy

Plus: Finding Medicaid waste and more management news
October 31, 2012

Public vs. Private Employees: Who Wins in a Bidding War?

Instead of simply preselecting private- or public-sector employees, managed competition means projects can be put out for bid with both groups competing for work.
October 18, 2012

Changing How Universities Spend Money, the Problem with Rankings and Identifying Government's Enemy

Plus: The impact of postponed retirement and more management news
October 4, 2012

How Body Language Can Improve Union Talks, the Real Cost of Closing Schools and a Board Game for Budget Writers

Plus: Advice for the public sector from the private sector and more management news
September 28, 2012

What Killed Alabama’s Performance Measurement Plan?

Less than a decade after the state enacted its first real performance measurement plan, it -- like a number of other similar programs in the states -- has fallen on hard times.
September 20, 2012

The Gambling Bait and Switch, Surprising Workforce Stats, and Untracked Spending on Juvenile Justice

Plus: The unpredictable costs of trauma care, and more management news
September 6, 2012

Overcoming Training Losses, Improving Mental Health and Fixing the Problem of Too Much Parking

Plus: When cuts come to cops, and more management news
August 31, 2012

Sick Leave Causes Headaches for Governments

Governments are struggling with how to properly manage sick leave to prevent employees from abusing it.
August 23, 2012

When Training Goes Away, When Fiscal Fixes Backfire, and a Novel Traffic Solution

Plus: The return of the Manager's Reading List, and more management news
August 8, 2012

Getting Smarter on Health Care, Ironing Out Government's Conflicting Goals, and the Problem with Job Creation

Plus: Illegal pension recipients, and more management news
July 31, 2012

Gainsharing Falls Victim to Tight Times

The concept of sharing unspent dollars with other employees and agencies saves governments money but is often ignored when budgets are the smallest.
July 19, 2012

An App Without a Home, "The Big Pencil" and Getting Sick of Sick Days

Plus: Getting data right on teachers, and more management news
July 19, 2012

Rx for Too Much Sick Leave?

B&G readers weigh in on whether requiring doctors' notes will cut down on absenteeism.
July 5, 2012

Good Technology Investments, Spending Surpluses Wisely, and Government vs. the Press

Plus: The problems with digital textbooks and more management news
June 29, 2012

The Public’s Problem with Performance Measurements

The average citizen isn’t interested in government-tracked measurements. But if it’s results-based data that directly affects their lives, they might be.
June 21, 2012

Requiring a Doctor's Note, Tax Rates vs. Growth, and Performance in Beantown

Plus: A well-written plea for audtiting, and more management news
June 7, 2012

Residency Requirements, Connecting Citizens to Performance Reporting, and the Problem with Surveys

Plus: Questions about restructuring, and more management news
May 31, 2012

Performance Measurement Improves the Quality of Health Care

Quality measures are transforming everything from billing practices to patient behavior.
May 3, 2012

Sustaining Performance Systems, Keeping Up With Day Care, and the Problem with Readmission Rates

Plus: Patient-ranked doctors and more management news
April 30, 2012

Government Performance Auditors at Risk of Becoming Endangered

Many governments have shifted into reverse, cutting and even eliminating auditing offices.
April 19, 2012

Results-Based Barriers, Robbing Peter to Save Paul Money, and the Power of Bad Data

Plus: A scathing Rhode Island audit, and more management news
April 5, 2012

Putting Data to Use, Paying Cops to Shoot and the Politics of Revenue Estimates

Plus: Wise words from a former dicator, and more management news
March 30, 2012

Government Fleets’ Costs Driven Down with Technology Tools

The technology is there, but many state and local agencies still aren’t using it.
March 22, 2012

Sick Time for Overtime: Public-Sector Officials Weigh In

Should governments count paid leave toward overtime?
March 22, 2012

Workforce Planning in Washington, Iffy Stats for Private Prisons, and Wasting Money on College Dropouts

Plus: Linking forms and outcomes, and more management news
March 8, 2012

Competing With the Feds, Filing Your Email and Sell-By Dates for Data

Plus: Getting it right on overtime, and more management news
February 29, 2012

Is Government Consolidation Always Good?

In tight times, governments push for more centralization. But it doesn’t always produce the positive results that are hoped for.
February 23, 2012

When Pilot Programs Crash and Burn, Getting Sick Over Sick Time, and the Problem with Fiscal Notes

Plus: Tricky tax incentives, and more management news
February 9, 2012

Overtime for Sick Time, States' Off-Cycle Fiscal Plans, and Knowing What You're Buying

Plus: No love for committees, and more management news
January 31, 2012

'Constraints Management' Breaks Down Barriers to Efficiency

Government efficiency initiatives come and go. But Utah has had continued success with one in particular.
January 19, 2012

Top Issues for 2012, Library User Fees and Charging for School Buses

Plus: A better way to rate hospital care, and more management news
January 19, 2012

Evaluation of Evaluations

Do public employee appraisals actually accomplish anything?
January 5, 2012

Management Resolutions, States' Varied CAFRs, and an Energy-Saving Tool

Plus: Employee self-motivation and more management news
January 1, 2012

Fighting Government Fraud

How much fraud actually occurs is debatable, but the benefits of eliminating it are clear. And many governments are taking steps to stop schemes, scams and public-sector swindles.
December 8, 2011

The Reliability of Performance Appraisals, Ads on Chicago City Property, and the Cost of Employee Turnover

Plus: Welfare rules in the 50 states, and more management news.
November 30, 2011

In Government We Don’t Trust

People have gradually lost trust in government. How can public leaders get it back?
November 17, 2011

Reading the Fine Print on Financials, A Gold-Plated Tunnel in San Diego, and a Useful Source for Public Policy News

Plus: Assessing corruption in the public sector, and more management news
November 3, 2011

Balanced-Budget Bollocks, The Price Tag of Transparency, and Tracking Government Collaborations

Plus: Questions about pension investments, and more management news
October 31, 2011

Performance Auditors Lose Influence in Tight Times

Groups that assess the value of government programs inevitably make some enemies. That’s one reason the programs are always first on the chopping block.
October 20, 2011

Cost-Savings of Telecommuting, the Perils of Part-Timers, and a Council Meeting Erupts

Plus: The soothing power of shelter dogs, and more management news
October 6, 2011

Facebook in Government, The Value of Coloring Books, and Defining 'Waste, Fraud and Abuse'

Plus: Cheaper tech for schools, and more management news
September 30, 2011

Do States Really Balance Their Budgets?

Loopholes, unexpected expenses and glorified revenue predictions make balanced budgets an unattainable reality for some legislatures.
September 22, 2011

Analysis After the Fact, Why DOTs Should Act Like Retail Stores, and Slippery Stats on Road Safety

Plus: Defining a good boss, and more management news
September 8, 2011

Tablet Computer Takeover, The Plight of Small Counties, and Ethics Laws

Focusing on the budget minutiae, and more management news
August 31, 2011

Small Energy-Efficiency Investments Add Up

States and cities are finding that even the simplest tasks, like switching to LED streetlight bulbs, can result in significant savings.
August 18, 2011

Stressed on the Job, Go-to Sources for Econ, and the Danger of Pretty Data

Plus: Emphasizing the individual, and more management news
July 29, 2011

Measuring the Efficiency of Courts

Municipalities in more than a dozen states are using tools to gauge their courts’ speed, accessibility and reliability in administering justice.
July 21, 2011

Disagreeing with Your Boss

B&G Readers sound off on whether it's okay to go up against the man or woman in charge.
July 21, 2011

States' Self-Promotion, Mobile Phone Math, and Explaining Tax Expenditures

Plus: Sounding off on disagreeing with the boss, and more management news
July 7, 2011

Research Help, More Audit Cuts, and Good News for Greener Cities

Plus: Misconduct in the school cafeteria, and more management news
June 30, 2011

Across-The-Board Budget Cuts May Not Bring Real Savings

When states determine to make some kind of cut with regard to agencies, it's important to differentiate between them.
June 23, 2011

Disagreeing with Your Boss, the State Bailout Fallacy, and Misleading Crime Stats

Plus: Harmful transparency and more management news
June 9, 2011

The Trials of Transparency, The Trouble with Assuming, and a New Government Wiki

Plus: Four-day school weeks and more management news
June 9, 2011

It's Not All Politics with YouTube's 'Town Hall'

The new website empowers citizens to make their decisions based on the issues and not the party that supports them.
June 2, 2011

Ticked at Tech: Your Responses

B&G readers sound off on their frustrations with on-the-job technology.
May 31, 2011

What's a Pension Perk Worth?

Employers can't pinpoint what the real value of retiree benefits is to them.
May 19, 2011

The Taxation Ink-Blot Test, Twittering Cities, and Still Ticked at Tech

Plus: Shared services and more management news
May 19, 2011

B&G Interview: Frank Fairbanks, former City Manager of Phoenix

A discussion with a veteran of local level public service.
May 5, 2011

Ticked Off at Technology, Let's Get Fiscal, and a Lesson from Bangladesh

Plus: Too much certainty, and more management news
April 29, 2011

When is a Shortfall a Budget Gap and Not a Budget Deficit?

The distinctions between gaps and deficits can show just how dire a city or state's condition is.
April 21, 2011

Effective Motivation, the 'Sanctity' of Surveys, and Demand-Based Pricing

Plus: Learning from successes, and more management news
April 7, 2011

Overselling the Economic Crisis, Transcript Tribulations, and Furlough Follies

Plus: An update on government swag, and more management news
April 7, 2011

Government Swag: Pros and Cons

Local leaders differ on whether government-branded freebies and trinkets are worth the money.
March 31, 2011

Effectively Engaging the Public

There's more to keeping in touch with constituents than public hearings.
March 17, 2011

Leading by Example, Repairing New Orleans' Government, And Race to the Top Reforms

Plus: Who to follow on Twitter, and more management news
March 3, 2011

Swag Smack-Down, Confusing Food Stamp Math, And Counting Elephants

Plus: Police Unions in Wisconsin, And More Management News
March 1, 2011

The Legislative Funding Flaw

When state legislatures pass new programs but don't fund them, they may do more harm than good.
February 17, 2011

Dashboard Confessionals, Eliminating Duplicative Services, and Henry Ford on Innovation

Plus: Watching California's Jerry Brown, and more management news
February 3, 2011

When Social Media Works Best, The Illinois Outlier, And Bankruptcy Boogeymen

Plus: Good News for Counties, And More Management News
February 1, 2011

Using Data to Guide Education Policymaking

Louisiana learns to use information about its students to create real-life benefits for them.
January 20, 2011

Making the Case for Tax Incentives, Slowing Health Spending, and The Price of a Life

Plus: A Small Victory for Detroit, And More Management News
January 6, 2011

Obstinate Outliers, GPS Trackers and Insufficient Audits

Plus: Recommended reading, short-term thinking and more management news
January 1, 2011

Overseeing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

As the feds help states and cities, a new relationship may be developing.
December 16, 2010

Working for Big Brother, Performance in Portland, And the Cash Myth

Plus: Giving oversight some teeth, looking at some pretty graphics, and more management news
December 2, 2010

Cutting Medicaid Costs, The Problem With Vision, And Scary Thoughts on Schools

Plus: Manager must-reads, the importance of good data, and more management news
December 1, 2010

Administrative Cuts Affect Governments' Functionality

Deep managerial workforce cuts change how tightly and rightly governments run.
November 18, 2010

Why The Public Distrusts Government, The 'Best' Performance Measures, And More

Plus: measuring student achievement, balancing state budgets, and more management news.
November 4, 2010

Getting Citizens to Care, Fixing Civics Education, And How Government is Like a Hockey Puck

Plus: The cost of rules, how bikes saves lives, and more management news.
November 1, 2010

Prioritizing and Revamping the Budgeting Process

States and localities should prioritize top goals and revamp the budgeting process.
October 21, 2010

Unruly Rules, Preaching Against Government Waste, And Legislating Inoculations

Plus: City Budget Cuts, Stimulus Strains, And More Management News
October 7, 2010

Grading on a Curve, Setting Goals in Public, And Cutting for Tax Cuts

Plus: A New Budget Gimmick, And More Management News
October 1, 2010

Forgetting the Economic Cycle Already?

In boom times, states forget the bust years. That’s worrisome as revenues show signs of life.

Workplace Stress, When Innovations Fail, And Technology Etiquette

Plus: Payday Fraud, Citizen-Driven Budgeting, and More Management News

Hospital Errors, Public/Private Partnerships and Flexibility on Vacation Time

Plus: Performance evaluations, the challenge of cell phones and government, and more management news.

Governments Need to Get to Know Their Vendors

Before contracting out a government function, a jurisdiction must have solid information about a firm's performance.

A Snitch in Time

Plus: The power of comfort, Florida's liquor-lag, and more.

Tethered by Technology?

A handful of B&G Report readers speak out about the positives and negatives of devices that allow them to stay in touch with their work around the clock.

Half-a-Billion in Waste?

Plus: Making Commissions Useful, Counting Contracts, And More

Partnering Up: Public-Private Partnerships

Partnering for value can be great for a state or city, but the devil is in the details.

The Stimulus Scare

Plus: Health Care Misconceptions, Performance Management Uncertainties, And More

Does Handheld Tech Actually Make Your Job Harder?

Plus: Relaxing Oversight on State Contracts, Making Referendum Signatures Public, And More

Goodbye to Good Research

Funding for state programs that research and analyze long-term issues is dwindling.

When Spending Really Is Out of Control

Plus: Progress on Hospital Infections, Another Bunch of Bad Co-Workers, And More

The Five Worst Types of Government Workers

Plus: Fees for Special Treatment, Sin-Tax Errors, And More

Telecommuting's Sluggish Adoption

Working from home has been touted as the future, so why isn't it catching on faster?

New Technology Can Be Tempting, But Don't Go For More Than You Can Handle

Plus: Imperiled Public Health Agencies, the Importance of Statistics, And More

Tracking Return-on-Investment for Higher Ed

Plus: Public-Private Partnerships, The End of the Rubber Room, And More

When Public Officials Play Hide and Seek

The low-tech telephone plays a key role in keeping government connected to citizens. Too bad, officials never pick up. (Photo: Chris Campbell/Flickr CC)

Tweeting Your Way to Better Management

Plus: Kentucky Loses a Resource, Texas Loses Some Fireworks, And More

Fiscal Fireworks

When we suggested fireworks displays are community-building events that shouldn't be eliminated, some of our readers lit up like the Fourth of July.

Civics Education Programs Around the Country

Here's a sampling of some courses and publications designed to educate young citizens about how government works.

Does Rudeness Get Results?

Plus: Civics Boot Camps, Quotables, And More

An Unproductive Bump

During layoffs, the effect of 'bumping rights' on the workplace is more than demoralizing.

When Budget Cuts Threaten a Sense of Community

Plus: Overworked Officers, Unanticipated Outcomes, And More

When Officials Play Hide-and-Seek

Plus: The magic of checklists, the non-jobs effects of the stimulus, and more

New Revenue, New Concerns

Contingency fee contracts are becoming hot, but have their limits.

Looking for Civics Lessons

Plus: Planning for the end of the stimulus, the D.A.R.E. problem, and more

Closing the Tech Gap

Plus: Walkability scores, e-mail advice, and more

Fatally-Flawed Mortality Statistics

Inaccurate information on death certificates impacts how states allocate health-care funds.

Looking for E-mail Wisdom

Plus: Budget tricks, taco cooperation, and more

Putting the Context in Context

Plus: The stimulus vs. productivity, the "anchoring effect," and more

Awaiting the Meaning of Waiting Lists

They are supposed to give you solid information about program demand. Instead, they mislead the public.

The Stimulus Dilemma: Creating Jobs vs. Boosting Productivity

Plus: The phantom toll road, red-light camera accidents, and more

The Buck Stops Where?

Plus: The jargon divide, even more questionable stimulus spending, and more

Government and the Stress Mess

Layoffs and furloughs are taking a toll on those who are still on the job.

Taxi Triumphs

Plus: Unreported swine flu stats, outsourced water bills, and more

Public Dollars, Private Perks and a Bouquet of Criticism

Is it ever okay to buy get-well-soon flowers with taxpayer money?

Recession: Not the Time to Gut Employee Training Programs

Plus: The final word on flowers, the perils of bad data, and more

The States' Stupid Budget Tricks

This year may set a record for gimmicks they used to balance their books.

Private Perks are Nice, But Not at Public Expense

Overstated savings, underestimated budgets, and more

Public Spending: Is a Little Warmth a Good Investment?

Plus: The problem with school vending machines, a technology reality check, and more

The Management Challenge of Bad Data

Obstacles to coming up with solid, accurate numbers to measure program performance are all over the place.

For Good Data, Context Counts

Robbing pensions to pay Paul, making customers happy while they wait, and more

When Revenues Don't RSVP

Plus: Useless news bulletins, the tweeting-texting-traffic conundrum, and more.

Few Payoffs for Overtime Pay

It can be a drag on pensions and the bottom line.

Dusty Data

Plus: Getting a fix on the price of government, one state that's all smiles right now, and more

Recession Aggression

Keeping an eye on California, how most states are bungling stimulus accountability, and more

Bidding Boards Goodbye

Boards and commissions can be expensive--whether or not they meet.

Going Too Far on Furloughs?

Plus: The big pencil, the pressure to appear overloaded, and more

When Tech Advancements Are Really Retreats

Plus: Under-reporting homicides, under-sharing best practices, and more

Performance Rules

Managing for results is making a bigger difference during this downturn.

Which Tech is Dreck?

Plus: The questionable effectiveness of tax incentives, what happens when pilots fly blind, and more

Putting Performance in Child-Welfare Services

Plus: Whether CEOs matter, the public-private slowdown, and more

Who Should Fix the Potholes?

Sometimes it saves money to outsource government work. But don't assume that.

What Public Managers Want

Readers of the B&G Report tell the top two qualities they're looking for in an employee.

Those Two Little Management Words

Plus: The possible demise of a performance institution, management lessons from a weight-loss program, and more
May 20, 2009

Manager's Reading List

A running list of must-reads for public managers, suggested by readers of The B&G Report

Insight on Incentives

Plus: Paying for snitches, the power of putting data on a map, and more

No Time for Budget Busting

Stimulus or no stimulus, cost overruns are as dangerous as ever.

What Do Public Managers Want?

Plus: saving on Medicaid, the problem with building consensus, and more

Using Stimulus Funds for Parks

Readers of the B&G Report respond to the idea of using federal stimulus dollars for quality-of-life projects.

Stimulating Conversation on Parks and Golf Courses

Plus: Adaptability and flexibility, California's new stimulus watchdog, and more

The Vacancy Game

An odd route to budgeting flexibility comes from banking unfilled job slots.

A Stimulus Hole-in-One

Plus: Taxes vs. fees, unaccountable accountability, and more
March 8, 2009

Measuring Livability and Performance

The Oregon Progress Board was created in the late 1980s to develop statewide livability indicators and monitor progress on Oregon's statewide strategic plan. It certainly...

"Silly" Stimulus Spending

Plus: The balanced-budget myth, Oregon's progressive Progress Board, and more

Coming Together, Breaking Apart

To consolidate or not to consolidate: a puzzling question.

Park That Stimulus!

Plus: How informing patients can lower Medicaid costs, a great resource for performance reporting, and more

When Program Funds Go Awry

Plus: Improving 311 systems, the pain of conference calls, and more

The Lure of the Layoff

There are plenty of costly mistakes to make when you try to balance a budget through personnel freezes, cuts or early retirements.
December 31, 2008

Plugging Leaks

Fifteen years ago, when a new business tried to put down roots in Kansas, the business owner had to mail in a paper registration and...

A Gift List for Managers

Plus: How to fix failed institutions, keeping track of budget cuts, and more

Opposite Day

Plus: A state-city disconnect, an entirely unscientific poll about performance measures, and more

Afraid to Fire?

Plus: The problem with a one-year check-up, unspent money in Tulsa, and more

The Election's Over: Time to Start Worrying

Plus: The decline of the citizen survey, using the Web to change attitudes about government, and more

The Sweet Spot in Sour Times

When times are tough, politicians and managers have the cover to make hard choices.

A Simple Idea for Saving on Health-care costs

Plus: Losing credit in Hartford, fed-state stat spat, and more
October 15, 2008

Many Happy Tax Returns

States and the federal government might be able to save a fair amount of money if they paid attention to some developments in Oregon, according...

Management Prognostications

Plus: Our own predictions for the year, government's "big pencil," and more

Executioner's Song

There is a lot of fanfare when a new program is signed into law. But then, it disappears from sight. Why is that?

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Managing

Plus: A Good Idea from Oregon, the truth about state "wellness programs," and more

The Face of Government

Plus: State boards in limbo, the power of picking up the phone, and more

B&G Interview: Questions for Bob Wise

A conversation with the former West Virginia governor and the current president of the Alliance for Excellent Education

Assessing a Hot Button

Some of the problems with property taxes could be solved on the management end.

The Problem with Acronyms

Plus: Managers Reading List, training for waving a flag, and more

Read Any Good Books Lately?

Plus: Smart moves from the Ohio highway patrol, the four-day work week in the public sector, and more

Letting It All Hang Out

The latest political buzzword is transparency. But it may not be the cure-all it's cracked up to be.

When Technology Gets You Down

Plus: Looking for a date, flawed state audits, and more

The Often Fictional Organization Chart

Plus: States giving cities the shaft, letting citizens sit on pension boards, and more

Learning from Losers

Best practices are all well and good. We make a case for a center to study the worst.

Do States Care About Cities?

Plus: Low ethical standards, the Rubber Room, and more

B&G Interview: Questions for John Turcotte

A conversation with one of the nation's top experts on program evaluations

Is Your Government an Ethical Place?

Plus: Generational conflicts in the workplace, how building maintenance reduces staff turnover, and more

The Meeting Morass

There are way too many of them, they take too long and don't accomplish much. Can meetings be fixed?

Do Politics Get in the way of Sensible Initiatives?

Plus: Telecommuting breeds discontent, sick public-sector workers, and more

Growth & Taxes

Why outdated state tax systems undercut economic vitality, and what states can do about it.

Breathing Room

States that give localities greater leeway to raise revenue help create robust partners for investing in the future.

Baiting Hooks

Tax incentives will always be with us, but states are finally keeping tabs on what they're getting for their money.

Staying Stable

Volatile revenue streams and unpredictable taxes bring misery to everyone from state budgeters to businesses.

Plugging Leaks

A tax policy is only as good as the systems that collect the taxes and make it simple for people to pay them.
December 31, 2007

Growth & Taxes

It's been known for a long time that obsolete state tax systems are not producing the revenue states need. But what's becoming clear today is...
December 31, 2007

Breathing Room

On January 29, Florida's voters will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment -- sent to them by the state legislature -- that would set sharp...
December 31, 2007

Baiting Hooks

Tax incentives have long been endorsed as the highway to prosperity -- attracting businesses, providing jobs and enriching the state. That's been conventional wisdom in...
December 31, 2007

Staying Stable

We'd always take a tax cut, of course," says David Johnson, the former chairman of the Ohio Manufacturers' Association. Nothing surprising in those words, but...

Keeping Meetings Meaningful

Plus: Roadblocks to shared services, private-sector succession planning, and more

The Future Is Now

It's one thing to attract young people to government jobs. It's another to keep them there.

Public Managers' Time-Vampires

Plus: Why to avoid group e-mails, taxing other states' muni bonds, and more

Why Do Employees Leave the Public Sector?

Plus: Public vs. private salaries, sharing data over the Web, and more
September 30, 2007

The $3 Trillion Challenge

Texas pensions have a problem. Four-fifths of the nearly 100 public retirement plans are underfunded -- not by a thousand dollars here and a million there....

An Accidental Outcome

When officials act quickly to solve a problem, they may fail to look at the long-term effects -- and those can create new complications.

The Coffee-Stain Index

Plus: Higher-than-expected turnover, the importance of old-fashioned written materials, and more

Reasons for Leaving

Plus: A great tool for performance reporting, our Journalist of the Month Award, and more

An Ounce of Encouragement

Some states and localities are taking steps to get constituents to do what they ought to do anyway.

"Low-Hanging Fruit" and Other Annoying Phrases

Plus: Overly expensive -- and overly designed -- logos, the Philadelphia Productivity Bank, and more

Don't Ask

The more thoroughly you measure the depths of any problem, the bigger that problem will appear to be.

B&G Interview: Questions for Carlos Alvarez and George Burgess

A conversation with the mayor and county manager of Miami-Dade

Nerve-wracking Government Jargon

Plus: Unacceptably low graduation rates, the "paperful" office, and more

The Listening Post

One of the toughest things for states or localities to do is get bona fide input from citizens on how they're doing.

How to Get Employees to Sign Up for a "Voluntary" Effort

Plus: The broadband ZIP-code gap, transportation safety for emergency responders, and more

B&G Interview: Questions for Laura Chick

A conversation with the controller for the city of Los Angeles

The Future of Performance Management

Plus: The price of promptness, the problem with playing it safe, and more

B&G Interview: Questions for John Cape

A conversation with former New York Governor George Pataki's budget director.
March 1, 2007

Numbers, Crunched

If budgets are financial plans, then CAFRs tell you what happened to the plan. So why don't more people pay attention to them?

Do You Know What You Own?

A surprising number of states and localities don't have the kind of inventory of their assets that a decent shoe store has.

Speed Limits

Response time is the easiest but not necessarily the best measure of performance.

When Boomers Retire

A number of states are looking to career-building programs to grow their workforces of the future.

Short on Oversight

States and localities are outsourcing more of their services, but management of the contracts is in dire need of an upgrade.

Plugging In

Performance measures are finally being taken out of the box and applied to agency plans and budgets.

Gaming the Numbers

Many of the statistics policy makers use today are set in concrete but made of quicksand.

Time For A Check Up

An independent performance audit can help an agency deliver services more efficiently and effectively.

Apples to Umbrellas

Criteria and formulas for basic performance measures are so varied, comparing data from one state to another is often a fruitless exercise.

Loving a Loser

Award-winning programs usually spawn copycats, but there may be good ideas to replicate from innovative projects that falter.

Cashing Out

Our household is just like a state: good at forecasting revenue, but when it comes to expenditures, things get dicier.

A Balancing Act

Contracting out services can benefit the bottom line, but not always. The trick is to figure out when it does and doesn't.
February 1, 2005

The Year of Living Dangerously

"There are some remedies worse than the disease," a playwright wrote more than two millennia ago. Publilius Syrus could have been referring to the current state of the 50 states.

A Little Less Input, Please

Gathering all the public input you can may sound like a good idea, but it's often more of a pain than a panacea.
November 1, 2004

A Mental Case

Even as doubts grow about using performance data in budgeting, mental health agencies provide fresh evidence of the benefits.
September 1, 2004

Checking Out Reality

One of the easiest ways to balance a budget is simply to predict savings that may or may not ever come to pass.
July 1, 2004

Forward Pass

It's important to understand that five-year forecasts are going to be wrong, but it's good to do them anyway.
May 1, 2004

Applauding a Performance

A new report can help agency officials and lawmakers use performance measures more effectively.
March 1, 2004

When Less Is Not More

Some agencies don't gather data that could help them manage better-- because it might make them look bad.
February 1, 2004

A Case of Neglect

Why Health Care Is Getting Worse, Even Though Medicine Is Getting Better
January 1, 2004

Going for the Goal

Applying the principles of managing for results to running a child's soccer team leads to some unexpected outcomes.
November 1, 2003

A Heads Up On Hype

Overselling a project can have unfortunate consequences, among them earning the distrust of legislators.
September 1, 2003

Bye, Bye Early Bird

A late budget is a clear sign that unproductive politics are overwhelming a government's sensible management.
July 1, 2003

In-House Outlaws

Catching every bit of fraud in government can result in what a county official calls 'spending a dime to chase a nickel.'
May 1, 2003

The Prized Employee

Governments are in the position of trying to reward good performers-- without being able to give raises or bonuses.
March 1, 2003

Coming To Terms

Fuzzy language is a big impediment to good management--and to understanding the way government really works.
January 1, 2003

A Data Deficiency

The lack of good information to help voters make intelligent decisions on ballot measures is startling.
November 1, 2002

Making Comparisons

People may not care how clean the average street is, but they sure want to know how their street compares to others.
September 1, 2002

You Can't Bank On It

When a state or local agency has money left at the end of the year, a spendthrift mentality tends to take over.
July 1, 2002

Proof Positive

Louisiana has undergone a sea change in the use of performance information. Managing for results is working there.
May 1, 2002

Control Freaks

States and localities probably spend more money enforcing incredibly restrictive rules than they lose on waste and fraud.
January 1, 2002

The Terminator

Even for those governments that have mechanisms to hasten the firing process, it can still be laborious to get rid of deadwood.
November 1, 2001

Bad-News Budgeting

When revenues dry up, states and localities tend to make cuts that leave them less able to deliver services effectively.
September 1, 2001

Ending the Gotcha Game

The more managers are free to admit an impending failure without fear of being throttled, the better off a government will be.
July 1, 2001

The Good Book

A new report on making results-based state government work is chock- full of commonsense recommendations.
May 1, 2001

Getting the Grouse Out

Problems crop up when the grievance process is so complex and time- consuming that it stifles managers and employees.
March 1, 2001

Paying the Bill

States need a more careful process of estimating the future financial impact of legislation before legislators pass it.
January 1, 2001

Training Wheels

Most states can't tell you, with any authority, how much agencies spend on training or how wisely they spend it.
November 1, 2000

Resume Follies

Credentials may be important, but the skills, abilities, knowledge and behavior of applicants are at least equally so.
September 1, 2000

Keeping Secrets

Regardless of real-world pressures, data should be made public. Absent good information, bad information will prevail.
July 1, 2000

Truth in Measurement

Verifying the accuracy of statistics generated by performance measures seems to be the last step in the process.
May 1, 2000

The Centralization Continuum

States and local governments have been swinging like a pendulum between powerful and weak central controls.
March 1, 2000

The Rise of Cost Accounting

Governments are finally beginning to figure out how to develop solid figures for the cost of the services they provide.
January 1, 2000

Suggestion-Box Sickness

Employee idea boxes seem like an obvious way to foster the ballyhooed notion of `continuous improvement.' So why don't they work?