Management Insights

HR’s Crucial Role in Boosting Government’s Performance

Public employers are confronted by four interrelated workforce problems. Budgets are under severe stress. There is pressure to raise performance levels. The workforces are aging and losing talent though heavy retirements. And labor markets are tight: Qualified employees in a growing number of job families are scarce, and that is driving up pay levels.

Less immediately pressing but endemic to government's reality is the prevalence of civil-service laws enacted long ago; a history of stable organizations that have experienced comparatively little change; disconnected pay and performance systems; human-resources policies and systems that are not responsive to labor-market trends or organizational problems; and resistance to change from unions, employee associations and some elected officials. In many jurisdictions elected leaders as well as appointees have little, if any, meaningful experience addressing workforce problems. READ MORE

The Voting Problem We Do Need to Fix

President Donald Trump's "tweet-egations" about massive voter fraud -- claiming that about 1 in 40 ballots were fraudulently cast in last year's presidential election -- are as well known as they've been thoroughly debunked. An extensive post-election inquiry of state election officials did find a few scattered examples of suspect ballots, but on a scale closer to 1 in 1 million. And most of those ballots were likely cast by mistake, not with fraudulent intent.

As former secretaries of state -- an elected Democrat from Oregon and an elected Republican from Washington state -- we were responsible for our states' elections. We worked closely with our respective states' election administrators (also of both parties), and we know what an outstanding job these officials and their staffs do to ensure the integrity of our election process. We're convinced that true voter fraud is exceedingly rare and almost always inconsequential. However, there is one problem with our election systems that does deserve more of our collective attention: the inordinate number of outdated and duplicative voter-registration records. READ MORE

What Government Needs to Do to Meet Its Staffing Challenges

It's that time of the year, when new college graduates are job-hunting. Since the recession, the year-to-year increase in the number of new bachelor's degrees has averaged roughly 2 percent. Meanwhile, surveys of private-sector employers show that they plan to increase hiring between 5 and 10 percent each year. That imbalance will continue to push up salaries, making it harder than ever for government to compete in the employment marketplace.

For the foreseeable future, public-sector staffing shortages are inevitable, and the only short-term answer is requiring costly overtime or raising pay levels to attract qualified applicants. In the long run, if hiring new staff remains difficult, public employers need to adopt practices to boost employee productivity. READ MORE

How Artificial Intelligence Is Already Changing Government

"We don't have enough people to keep up."

"We have to go through miles of case law on this one." READ MORE

The Urgent Need for Intergovernmental Dialogue

One of the saving graces of our country is our system of checks and balances, and that includes the balance of power between state governments and the federal government. That said, those checks and balances can make it very difficult to move forward on the priorities Americans care about -- infrastructure, public safety, health care, jobs, retirement security, and clean water and clean air, to name a few.

Even with the Republican Party in control of Congress, the White House and most state governments, our elected leadership struggles to find consensus on goals. Some argue that hyperpartisanship is the reason we have been unable to address our nation's challenges in a thoughtful way. While that is certainly a problem, the bigger issue is the failure to develop smart policies that integrate local, state and federal government programs. That requires much more communication among thoughtful leaders to identify a way forward. READ MORE