Management Insights

The Government Workforce in an Era of Wage Stagnation

There's been a lot of talk lately about wage stagnation among middle-class workers, but there is growing evidence that this may be an even larger issue for state and local government employees -- one likely to make it harder for these governments to attract and retain the workforces they need.

Unlike the private sector, state and local government employment remains smaller than it was before the Great Recession. At its peak in 2008, these governments had 19,748,000 employees. In the six years after that, states and localities shed an estimated 565,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). READ MORE

Government 2020: Imagining the Future

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. But how could the world of government be different if we could not only envision the future -- how things might be in, say, the year 2020 -- but also prepare for it?

Most senior public officials are so busy putting out fires and running their operations from day to day that it's hard for them to get a chance to think about technological and other trend lines and how they might impact the way governments operate and citizens are served. So let's step back and take a quick tour through government's possible not-so-distant future: READ MORE

A Mayor’s Test for Good Decisions

Decisions are what government executives, elected officials and civic leaders do. They may make them in groups or alone, in public or private, but they spend a great deal of time preparing for, making and carrying out decisions. Which begs the question: How do we know if we're making good decisions?

We certainly know what good decisions are supposed to do: Solve problems or fulfill opportunities without creating equal or greater problems. These unintended consequences often take time to develop, so it's hard to judge decisions right away. As time passes, though, we can usually see the good and the bad more clearly. That's why support for past decisions either grows or melts away. READ MORE

What Budgets Count and What They Don’t

The kerfuffle du jour in Washington policy-wonk circles is over something called "dynamic scoring." Put simply, the argument is over whether those who have the responsibility of estimating the costs of policies also should take into account those policies' macroeconomic effects.

The notion most closely associated with the idea, usually advanced by Republicans, is that tax cuts create positive feedbacks, and tax increases negative ones, for the economy. There are, of course, possible effects on the spending side as well; one certainly could expect positive economic benefits from investing in infrastructure or job training. READ MORE

The Barriers to Shared Data and How to Overcome Them

State governments increasingly understand the importance of developing policy based on reliable evidence. They also recognize that much of the data needed to improve policy development, programmatic effectiveness, operational efficiency and public transparency is already on state computer servers. And while harnessing this information will be a challenge for state leaders over the coming decade, the potential to achieve cost savings and improve outcomes for citizens is enormous.

Unfortunately, unnecessary obstacles -- including rules that often restrict agencies from sharing data with each other -- can prevent states from using data to resolve some of their major policy challenges. And states have found it difficult sharing economic development data effectively with local governments. But there are steps that states can take to overcome barriers to sharing and linking datasets and to use data they already own rather than asking residents and businesses to provide the same information multiple times. READ MORE