August 1, 2017
In the real world of government, the idea of cost can be summarized in a single plain truth: Pay now or pay later.
August 1, 2017
It's time to abandon corporate tax breaks. Just look at their history.
July 28, 2017
The default strategy for many government officials isn’t working. Better policies could accomplish a lot.
July 1, 2017
Governing does about 40 live events a year, and my favorite has always been our annual Public Officials of the Year dinner, where we honor outstanding contributions to public service.
June 7, 2017
The basketball player’s early career illustrates a learning strategy that produces conflict -- and innovation.
June 1, 2017
Daniel C. Vock’s feature this month on the refugee crisis in Twin Falls, Idaho, is about the basic decency of Americans in places that the coastal elites rarely visit.
May 16, 2017
Guarding against evil poses a dilemma for government managers, but it can be done.
May 1, 2017
When I served as the auditor of Kansas City, Mo., I saw my role as that of a craftsman, like a carpenter or a plumber.
April 13, 2017
Cities and universities may finally be learning to work together.
April 1, 2017
In this issue’s profile of John Arnold, the billionaire philanthropist who has become obsessed with public employee pensions, reporter Liz Farmer writes that he is “a mathematics whiz whose remarkable skill with numbers” is the basis of his fortune.
March 21, 2017
It isn’t easy to achieve, but simplicity should be a vital goal when serving the public.
March 1, 2017
Splintering and fracturing are dominant forces in today’s social and political life.
February 7, 2017
Success in public life is often defined by winning elections instead of making positive change.
February 1, 2017
My wife used to be a doula and childbirth educator.
January 24, 2017
There's a big challenge that advocates need to recognize.
January 1, 2017
I used to play tournament chess, and the best players would deploy strategies with names like “the Spanish Opening” or “the Sicilian Defense.”
December 15, 2016
For one, realize that you have the "curse of knowledge."
December 1, 2016
Reading the profiles of Governing’s 2016 Public Officials of the Year, I was reminded of a phrase that Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, used at one of our recent events: “horses for courses.”
November 7, 2016
Some economists say the country goes through two-decade-long seasons, each requiring its own kind of leader.
October 12, 2016
If the District of Columbia’s transit system was a public-private partnership, some say it wouldn't be falling apart right now.
October 1, 2016
In his book Diffusion of Innovations, Everett Rogers writes that innovation “presents an individual or an organization with a new alternative or alternatives, with new means of solving problems.”
September 8, 2016
Solving homicide cases is the best way to prevent future ones.
September 4, 2016
Working with Living Cities, Governing has identified a set of seven elements that constitute a framework for fostering the innovation cities need.
September 1, 2016
In this issue’s cover story, John Buntin takes a retrospective look at the impact of the 1992 book Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector.
August 10, 2016
Maybe, but the stigma of mental health problems keeps public officials from talking about it.
August 1, 2016
A couple of decades ago, many people thought technology would allow everybody to live and work wherever they wanted.
July 1, 2016
This issue’s feature by Liz Farmer on Chicago’s city treasurer asks an important question: Is Kurt Summers Chicago’s future?
July 1, 2016
In his two books, Norm Stamper offers recommendations for change.
June 1, 2016
There is a role for government regulation that allows for disruptive new business models without stifling innovation.
June 1, 2016
Running a city is mostly about building community -- and that's never easy.
May 10, 2016
They’re more likely to use the tools of government in new ways. Just look at Kym Worthy in Detroit or Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court.
May 1, 2016
Public employee pensions have been under fire from the right for decades, and that war intensified with the onset of the Great Recession.
April 1, 2016
The people who manage our public transportation systems, says Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack in Daniel C. Vock’s profile of her in this issue, tend to see the data they gather in terms of operations and efficiency.
April 1, 2016
As more aging Americans slip into poverty, governments need to be ready.
March 1, 2016
The three basic functions of government administration are human resources, procurement and financial management.
March 1, 2016
It’s time to take elections back from the parties and organizations that have given us the broken system of governance we now have.
February 1, 2016
Cities are being confronted with a problem they simply cannot manage effectively on their own.
February 1, 2016
Parks and other shared spaces can strengthen the bonds of citizenship, so why are they so underused?
January 1, 2016
Everyone talks about taxing the rich to give to the poor, but doing so would only have a small impact. There are ways to have a larger one.
December 1, 2015
To boost America's support for higher education, faculties and administrations need to remember why we have it.
December 1, 2015
Every day on Governing.com and every month in the magazine, we document the challenges facing America’s states and localities and the ways in which public officials are working to meet them and seize opportunities.
November 1, 2015
Organizations that invest in their workers reap the biggest gains.
November 1, 2015
The central idea of Alan Ehrenhalt’s 2012 book The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City is expressed in the title: the concept of a major demographic flip.
October 1, 2015
As I read Alan Greenblatt’s cover story in this month’s issue about the profound demographic changes that have occurred in Nevada -- and that are coming, inevitably and quickly, to the rest of the nation -- I thought of an incident a few months ago.
October 1, 2015
At its heart, it’s about saving capitalism from itself.
September 1, 2015
Laws and regulations make it increasingly difficult for public officials to get anything done. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
September 1, 2015
One way or another, somebody is going to pay.
August 1, 2015
Auditors are irrelevant in most places. Two things could change that.
August 1, 2015
At first glance, this month’s feature articles may not seem to have much to do with one another.
July 1, 2015
It’s not a surprise that most of the people cited in this issue’s cover story by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene on the problems states have with missing or inaccurate data are government auditors.
July 1, 2015
Foundations are important, but they have their limits.
June 1, 2015
It’s infrastructure, yet pensions get more of policymakers' attention.
June 1, 2015
Without Frank Munsey and George Perkins, there would have been no Bull Moose Party.
May 1, 2015
The rules that governments work under have little to do with reality.
May 1, 2015
The role of government and the will of the people are constantly evolving and often at odds. It's public officials' job to make them converge.
April 30, 2015
Mark Funkhouser, Governing publisher and former mayor, has three suggestions for preventing riots in other cities and minimizing the violence if they ignite.
April 1, 2015
While politicians easily offer policy prescriptions, they often fail to ask how they will be paid for.
March 1, 2015
Legal immigrants are some of the nation’s biggest job creators, which is why more cities are viewing them as a key to economic revival.
February 1, 2015
Perhaps the next big thing in local government ought to be a “higher education relations officer” who leverages universities’ assets to benefit the cities they’re in.
January 1, 2015
What seems like a growing trend of overdiagnosing corruption has negative consequences for not only public officials but the people they serve.
January 1, 2015
Last fall, in his first speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate -- a controlled rant that was equal parts astonishing and inspiring -- Republican Ben Sasse of Nebraska blasted his colleagues over the pointless partisanship that has paralyzed Congress.
December 1, 2014
How the public sector can use data and analytics to help knit communities back together.
November 1, 2014
Today’s performance management tools eliminate the old ways of thinking about what government can and can’t do.
October 1, 2014
If managers don't know when technology should replace people, they can destroy the product they're trying to create.
September 1, 2014
Good jobs are proven to reduce crime, yet much of the economy's recent growth is due to dead-end jobs with low wages and no benefits.
August 1, 2014
A book by a government HR expert explains what drives public-sector workers and how that differs from the private sector.
July 1, 2014
Prudent fiscal stewardship is essential to self-government.
June 1, 2014
ESOPs give employees part ownership of their companies and prevent major job losses when owners retire. But only two states support them.
May 1, 2014
The country removes the anonymousness of government by publicly identifying the people responsible for particular projects on street signs. It’s an anti-corruption approach that has lots of possibilities for U.S. governments.
April 1, 2014
Paul Volcker and Richard Ravitch’s State Budget Crisis Task Force recommends ways government can make reporting cleaner, clearer and simpler.
March 1, 2014
Results-based accountability measures results in the real world.
February 3, 2014
Trust in government is at historic lows. That will change, but it will happen from the bottom up.
February 1, 2014
For one town, dealing honestly with its unions paid off.
January 27, 2014
It's tempting to plunge in and try to fix everything right away. But in trying to do too much too soon, it's easy to say something dumb and get into trouble.
January 21, 2014
As two experts demonstrate, there's more to the problems faced by state and local retirement systems than mere political shenanigans.
January 13, 2014
The state's voters want to reform redistricting, but the legislature has paid little attention.
January 6, 2014
Outdated laws and overly formal procedures for public meetings are eroding trust in government. There are better ways than three minutes at the microphone.
January 1, 2014
That's why organizations need constant renewal to survive.
December 16, 2013
Wielding her influential blog as a weapon, this 75-year-old activist has created a powerful network united by revulsion against top-down, elite policymaking.
December 6, 2013
Governments' financial statements may seem intimidating to those without number-crunching expertise. But these documents contain important information that public officials need to know. Here's how to find it.
November 30, 2013
Governments really are in a competition. A lot is at stake.
November 25, 2013
Tax incentives and other giveaways to business don't create prosperity. It's time for a federal law to stop the bribery and make better use of capitalism's strengths.
November 1, 2013
Bridgeport, Conn., illustrates why governance, debt and demographics are so crucial for a healthy functioning city.
October 21, 2013
Increasing family wealth is a much better public policy goal than the standard economic development mantra of "jobs, jobs, jobs." And effective strategies won't come from Washington.
October 15, 2013
Can the state ever find a way out of its structural budget problems? A new book might suggest a path for places wrestling with policy dilemmas.
October 1, 2013
A new book has it right: We need to change the way we budget.
September 30, 2013
The standards-setting board for government financial reporting has been embroiled in one controversy after another, but the latest fight could result in the gutting of GASB's influence.
September 9, 2013
It’s tough to find the money and political support to provide public workers with safe, clean places to do their jobs. Tennessee went the privatization route, and the results look promising.
September 1, 2013
You can only tell you're not spending enough on public safety when it’s too late.
August 26, 2013
Wary investors and analysts not only want more information than ever, they want better information and they want it all now. Giving it to them could be a good deal for governments.
August 12, 2013
Regime change is coming to Detroit. The next mayor will have an opportunity to heal the long dysfunctional marriage between the city and its suburbs.
August 1, 2013
Bureaucracy allows us to do big things. But like every tool, it needs to be maintained and wielded with care and control.
July 29, 2013
The pressure to give away the public's money for economic development is as strong as ever, but the pushback is growing.
July 22, 2013
Emergency manager Kevyn Orr and Gov. Rick Snyder say they want the city to emerge from bankruptcy as a livable, sustainable city. It looks like they really mean it.
July 11, 2013
A New York county manager who made the jump to elective office is looking to fundamentally change how local government operates.
July 1, 2013
Washington can't fix the broken structure that it built. The key is for state and local officials to channel an aroused citizenry.
June 28, 2013
In these cities, as in many more across the country, elected council members have confused governing with administering.
June 24, 2013
In charging Harrisburg with securities fraud based partly on a former mayor's state-of-the-city speech, the SEC is taking a path it shouldn't.
May 30, 2013
It's vital that we begin restoring the public's trust in government. A recently published book amounts to a detailed manual for officials who want to take on that challenge.
May 30, 2013
After a police scandal involving illegal and unethical behavior, Los Angeles started the nation’s first school designed to train people to audit cops.
May 13, 2013
From jails to factories to streets to schools, the winning programs in a foundation's competition stretch the boundaries of what we normally think of as public health.
May 6, 2013
In the aftermath of the Boston bombings, something interesting and unusual happened: People applauded their public employees.
April 30, 2013
Healthy reserve funds allow governments to be careful and smart.
April 24, 2013
Cities compete for residents and tax base. Nothing defines urban livability more than a city that's kid-friendly.
April 18, 2013
Countries that rely heavily on midwives and home births have lower infant and maternal death rates than we do, and our numbers are getting worse. Isn't it time to rethink our reliance on hospitals and surgical interventions?
April 8, 2013
We're going to see more cities like Stockton. We need better ways to deal with the downward fiscal spiral.
April 1, 2013
Certainly spending must be cut and services must be restored, but it's essential that the voices of the loyal Detroiters who have stayed be heard.
March 29, 2013
There are lots of problems with pay for performance, but one of the most salient is that it implies that employees are slackers.
March 28, 2013
The winners of this year's National Public Policy Challenge had a guiding principle: Think big, start small.
March 21, 2013
Stephen Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, S.C., has ambitious goals for his city. He's off to a strong start.
March 11, 2013
The Community Reinvestment Act doesn't always get at underlying economic issues. It's time to redesign it.
February 28, 2013
States are moving into the void left by Washington’s paralysis.
February 28, 2013
Clarence Anthony, the National League of Cities' new executive director, wants the NLC to be a strike force for cities at a time when our federal system is undergoing profound changes.
February 25, 2013
'Citizen-centric' financial reporting is a way for governments to improve transparency and accountability. It isn't hard, so why aren't more jurisdictions doing it?
February 21, 2013
Federal law gives the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board the authority to protect issuers, but it can't do that job until the SEC gives it a tool it needs.
February 7, 2013
California seems to be finding a way out of its prison-overcrowding problems. Have we decided that locking up so many people isn't the best way to keep the public safe?
January 31, 2013
Cracking down on corruption is critical to China's growth.
January 31, 2013
As one thoughtful city manager see it, in our focus on service delivery we're lost sight of a fundamental purpose of government.
January 28, 2013
There are signs that the pendulum is swinging away from the anti-public-employee rhetoric of recent years. That's good for governments and for the people they serve.
January 23, 2013
Mayor Kevin Johnson has big ideas for California's capital. Will the drive that made him an NBA star serve him as he tries to remake his city?
January 16, 2013
Appealing to rightness and reason is rarely enough to achieve big things. Politics requires dealing with human beings, and human beings are flawed.
January 10, 2013
Her rankings of states' education policies look at things from the wrong direction. It's a discussion we do need to have, but first we need to tone down the rhetoric.
January 7, 2013
People of color now account for most of the country's population growth. That has profound implications for the way elections are won and the nation is governed.
January 3, 2013
Things are beginning to look up for Fitchburg, Mass., under Lisa Wong's leadership. It hasn't been easy.
December 28, 2012
Massachusetts has the highest credit rating it’s ever had. Its secret? Discipline.
December 20, 2012
Tennessee's Arthur Hayes has had a major impact on the world of government auditing. Don't get him started on "gray areas."
December 13, 2012
We're beginning to turn this serious health problem around. That is very good news for efforts to get our health-care costs under control.
December 10, 2012
Community health is about more than quality of life. Increasingly, companies are basing their location decisions on the availability of a healthy workforce.
December 6, 2012
A city in California is working to move beyond the customer-service approach to government and engage citizens as problem-solvers.
December 3, 2012
For Annise Parker, competing globally is about a lot more than delivering services efficiently.
November 30, 2012
Arithmetic always triumphs; our unsustainable trends will stop. What matters is how.
November 29, 2012
Community-indicator projects are popping up all over. They are serving an important function for regions that must compete on a global scale.
November 19, 2012
An important new book provides insights far beyond the conventional wisdom and the political arguments.
November 15, 2012
To see how much impact an auditor can have in improving the way government is run, look no further than California's Elaine Howle.
November 8, 2012
Auditors can flush out government's fat rabbits and lurking demons. But they can do a lot more than that: They can help you govern effectively.
November 5, 2012
The way law enforcement has been transformed points the way to fixing out broken public-education system.
November 1, 2012
Public officials should pay attention, as a town in Missouri learned the hard way. If an economic-development deal seems too good to be true, maybe it is.
October 31, 2012
Changes in its political system may point the way for it to meet financial challenges.
October 29, 2012
Bob Foster is a former energy-company president, but expertise in that subject isn't the only thing he brings to his city.
October 25, 2012
Can the search for new ideas be institutionalized? Some people think so, and what they're doing could be just what government needs.
October 22, 2012
Dayne Walling came back to his hometown intent on turning it around. Don't bet against him.
October 18, 2012
Drawing distinctions is important for better policy responses. That doesn't happen very often.
October 11, 2012
We don't know what kind of huge, transformation events are coming, but one thing is certain: Governments will have to be ready to deal with them.
October 4, 2012
It's the way we get things done as a society. We seem to have lost sight of that.
October 1, 2012
Manufacturing is going the way of agriculture, which technology has reshaped to employ ever-fewer workers. But traditional manufacturing isn't the only game in town.
September 28, 2012
Consolidating governments is hard to do, but the idea keeps coming up.
September 27, 2012
A lot of our symphony orchestras are in trouble, and the changing nature of cities is part of the problem. But Buck Owens may have some lessons for Beethoven.
September 24, 2012
We're better than we think we are, and so are our leaders. Just ask Tony Blair.
September 20, 2012
Some approaches to employee wellness programs have more of a track record than others. But they clearly can save a lot of money.
September 17, 2012
The insolvency that leads to local-government bankruptcy unfolds gradually. Public officials need to monitor and heed the early warnings.
September 13, 2012
The 24-hour news cycle makes it all too easy for public officials to react too quickly. They would do better to "think gray."
September 10, 2012
Effective government is critical to the stability we need for society to function. These days, that stability is threatened.
August 31, 2012
It’s more crucial than ever to know whether government programs are effective.
August 29, 2012
It’s clear that more police, strategically deployed, reduce crime. Cities that are cutting their police forces are risking more than public safety.
August 27, 2012
Many jurisdictions lack good internal controls for handling the money their employees collect. A treasurers’ group can help fix that.
August 23, 2012
Being a CPA isn’t necessarily one of them. Independence, courage and leadership are more important.
August 20, 2012
A team from the SEC has a message for public treasurers: If something "seems weird," give us a call.
August 16, 2012
The declining industrial city has tried all the usual economic-development approaches. Mayor Freeman-Wilson has other ideas.
August 13, 2012
According to two new reports, states’ fiscal situation is either (a) looking better or (b) looking worse. Pay attention to (b).
August 9, 2012
It won’t stop the worst abuses. Making everybody in government sit through it is like fishing for minnows, but it’s the sharks that are the problem.
August 6, 2012
A new book argues that markets are political creations -- not natural occurrences -- that we can shape to increase prosperity.
August 2, 2012
The mainstream public and the political class have very different ideas about what government should do. It’s a gap that is broadening and deepening.
July 30, 2012
To err is human. Public officials shouldn’t be reluctant to admit mistakes and to apologize for them.
July 26, 2012
Despite the billions we spend on programs like Medicaid, some desperately ill patients fall through the cracks.
July 16, 2012
While other cities flounder in fiscal distress, the South Dakota city thrives. Its long-term commitment to prudence keeps paying off.
July 12, 2012
We focus too much on how much government employees are paid. The real question we should be asking is what a good public worker is worth.
July 9, 2012
The new pension-accounting standards for governments were bitterly opposed by unions and many pension administrators, but they are good for governments, their employees and their taxpayers.
July 2, 2012
In choosing a courageous path in the health-care ruling, the chief justice acted to protect and strengthen institutions that are in a very fragile place.
June 28, 2012
There are as many of them as there ever have been. Sometimes, though, it takes us a while to recognize them.
June 25, 2012
Santa Monica and Chattanooga were in trouble a few decades ago. They placed their bets on sustainability, and today it’s paying off.
June 21, 2012
We can’t keep borrowing to pay for the basic operating costs of government.
June 18, 2012
A strong labor movement is good for the country. Unions should stop doling out campaign cash and focus on organizing.
June 14, 2012
After decades of gains, millions of Americans are slipping into poverty just as they near retirement age. The result will be a crisis for governments — one that they should be thinking about now.
June 11, 2012
Ferreting out waste and mismanagement is important, but what we really need from our watchdogs is work that improves the public’s trust in government.
June 7, 2012
The world’s biggest retailer wants to build stores in urban areas. That’s good for cities, but they need to be careful.
June 4, 2012
Reducing our investments in public colleges and universities — one of our great engines of economic development — may cost more than it saves.
May 31, 2012
Sometimes it seems as if all we care about in delivering benefits is making sure the wrong people don’t get them. There are more important things to worry about.
May 24, 2012
It’s hard to find trillions of dollars to fix our infrastructure. But not fixing our roads and bridges and ports is also expensive — and not just in dollars.
May 21, 2012
There’s more to engaging the public in governance — making them part of decisions about paying for the services they value — than simply ‘educating’ them.
May 17, 2012
Bad things happen, and the media amplifies them. But they are not the indicators of the decline of our culture that some would have us believe.
May 14, 2012
It’s good for our communities when toiling for a paycheck isn’t the only thing people do.
May 10, 2012
As disdain for government grows, it’s more important than ever to recognize those who do outstanding work.
May 7, 2012
Saddled with antiquated revenue structures, county governments don’t have the flexibility they need to meet modern expectations for service delivery.
May 3, 2012
The Kansas community of Junction City got itself into serious financial trouble. Now, without emergency managers or threats of bankruptcy, it’s getting itself out.
April 30, 2012
Increasingly, we’re trivializing ethics and falling short on financial accountability. The citizens deserve better.
April 26, 2012
Many public officials don’t want their compensation posted online for all to see. That’s understandable. But making government workers’ pay public is probably inevitable, and it raises some difficult questions.
April 23, 2012
There is little evidence that giving away the taxpayers’ money for economic development works. Only the market can create jobs.
April 19, 2012
Organizational change, the mantra goes, must come from the top. Not necessarily.
April 16, 2012
Amid all the gloom and doom, with our constant focus on what’s wrong, there are some hopeful things happening.
April 12, 2012
Managing the taxpayers’ money wisely is about more than balancing the books. The daily lives of ordinary people are at stake.
April 9, 2012
The scandal at the General Services Administration illustrates the value of inspectors general. Trust in government is at stake, so why are so many federal IG positions vacant?
April 5, 2012
Accepting wage and benefit cuts to preserve jobs is bad for unions, and it’s bad for the rest of us.
April 2, 2012
It's going to cost a lot of money to bring our infrastructure systems up to snuff. Public pensions could have a big role to play.
March 29, 2012
An event coming up in Philadelphia promises to go a long way toward matching the challenges government faces with ideas coming out of some of the top schools of public policy.
March 26, 2012
As we try to measure everything that moves, we need to remember that some of the most important things about us can’t be measured.
March 22, 2012
It’s the polarizers, not the consensus-seekers, who get the big things done.
March 19, 2012
We rely too much on aggregate data about our cities and states. It’s the differences among the numbers that are truly important.
March 15, 2012
None of us are angels. Government regulatory and inspection programs are a crucial way of making up for that.
March 12, 2012
Structurally deficient bridges will fall. The only question is when. We need to be thinking about risks like those, and about what to do about them.
March 8, 2012
Competition in government service delivery is powerful, but it isn’t sufficient. The best leaders are recognizing that.
March 5, 2012
Only a few states have complied with a federal law requiring sex-offender registration and notification. The rest have good reasons for holding out.
February 29, 2012
Stockton’s fiscal meltdown isn't the result of a dumb idea or corruption. That's why it’s particularly scary.
December 23, 2011
The head of the Governing Institute found a couple of surprises when he looked at population trends in a number of U.S. cities. Populations in big and small cities are bouncing back.
December 19, 2011
The Governing Insitute's director explains that in thousands of small towns and cities across the country, the local post office is seen as the heart and soul of the community.
December 12, 2011
New mayors stepped up to the rigors of campaigning and succeeded in getting themselves elected. Now, they begin the hard part.
November 17, 2011
In light of recent events involving Solyndra, Governing Institute head Mark Funkhouser explains how government can have a role in job creation without being venture capitalists.
October 11, 2011
"Regular people" still struggle even as economists interpret their behavior for policymakers.
August 31, 2011
Reflections on a lesser-known part of the Declaration of Independence remind us that good government is needed to secure our unalienable rights.