Management Insights

The Growing Urgency of Government's Quest for Talent

There's a looming government workforce crisis, and it's not even on the radar screen for too many state and local elected officials. Human-resources managers, however, are well aware of the challenges of recruiting and retaining the qualified workers governments urgently need.

That concern is documented in the latest annual survey from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence (SLGE). For the second year in a row, members of the International Public Management Association for Human Resources and the National Association of State Personnel Executives ranked recruiting and retaining qualified personnel as their most important workforce issue. READ MORE

Digital Government and the Virtues of Simplicity

Any mechanic knows that simple systems are harder to break. Digital thinkers apply that ethos to everything they do. It's a core value of every successful technology company: If the user is not happy, or is in any way slowed down or frustrated by the technology, then the whole business crumbles. So they try to design simple and intuitive experiences.

A new breed of digital innovators is hell-bent on bringing this ethos into the public sector. "Our government is addicted to complexity in a way that isn't serving us well," says Jen Pahlka, the CEO of Code for America, "and the complexity itself is actually the problem." READ MORE

The Loneliness of the Courageous Leader

Of all the things required to be a good leader in a community, here's the one that is least discussed: courage. One reason is that it sounds so wildly out of proportion. Courage is what soldiers and firefighters have; it's not something we normally expect of mayors, council members, city managers, business leaders and concerned citizens.

But shouldn't we? Courage is the mastery of fear in the service of something worthy. Physical courage in facing enemy fire or entering a burning building fits the definition. But so does social courage, which involves facing the disapproval of those we care about. This is the kind of courage that is important to communities. READ MORE

Government’s Role in Helping Americans Save for Retirement

Most governments provide their employees with some form of retirement savings, but that's a benefit that has been fading away for decades in the private-sector workplace. Today, only 58 percent of full-time private-sector American workers have access to a workplace retirement plan and 49 percent participate in one, according to a recent report from The Pew Charitable Trusts.

This leaves more than 30 million full-time, full-year workers between the ages of 18 and 64 without access to an employer-based retirement plan. With so many private-sector workers worrying that even with Social Security they won't have enough money for retirement, it's not surprising that many states and the federal government are looking at ways to step into the void left by employers. The aim is not only to increase retirement savings but also to reduce poverty and the need for social assistance --spending that strains state budgets. READ MORE

The Difference Between Promising and Governing

Over the last few election cycles, "fact checking" has become ubiquitous. News organizations, advocacy groups and partisans devote significant resources to comparing what is said in election campaigns to what happens after the winners take office. Not surprisingly, the reality of governing doesn't always match the promises that candidates make.

What most of the fact-checking sites and organizations have in common is that they are about correcting the record with respect to things that have already happened. There is another kind of reality check, however, that may be even more important but is much harder to do. That is when a candidate for office promises to do things, if elected, that would not pass any kind of reality check. Unlike untruths that are told about past events, we do not know that these are false, but there should be substantial reasons to very skeptical that these promises can ever come true. READ MORE