Smart Management

Before the Flood: the Value of Mitigation

Billion-dollar natural disasters are becoming the norm in the United States. Since 1980, catastrophes of this magnitude have affected all 50 states, hitting five to 10 times each year. Floods are the most frequent and expensive disasters; from 1980 to 2013, they caused more than $260 billion in damage. In 2016 alone, 36 of the federal government's 46 disaster declarations involved floods or hurricanes; four of them cost more than $1 billion each.

That's the price of cleaning up a flood after it happens. But much can be done to mitigate damage and reduce costs before the rain begins. Forward-thinking policymakers and local officials are doing just that. READ MORE

The State of Paid Parental Leave in the Public Sector

Several weeks ago, when Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a paid maternity leave bill for state employees, Arkansas Personnel Administrator Kay Barnhill couldn’t help thinking back to her own experience. When her children were born, she had to use up all of her sick and vacation hours to spend time with them. Paid maternity leave, she says somewhat wistfully, “would have been tremendous.”

Only 13 percent of private-sector workers have access to paid parental leave, and that number isn’t likely much higher for state and local government employees. READ MORE

Sexual Wrongdoing in the Government Workplace: the Leadership Challenge

We've seen more than enough sexual assault and harassment cases that were ignored for years or even decades. The Catholic Church scandal. Penn State and, more recently, Baylor University. The National Football League. The military service academies and the Coast Guard. Some local-government fire and police agencies. And that's just a starter list.

At the National Park Service, complaints of sexual harassment and assault go back more than 20 years. In one survey, 75 percent of female park police said they had experienced sexual harassment on the job. READ MORE

How Smaller Communities Can Survive in an Age of Disruption

The dual and related disruptions of technology and globalization have for the most part been good news for business productivity and for the large cities and metro areas that are well positioned to take advantage of them. Cities like Houston, Los Angeles and New York can readily offer a diverse and skilled workforce along with communications and transportation for global connections.

But as so many of our smaller cities and metro regions have so painfully learned, these forces are distributing their benefits in ways that are bad for middle-income jobs. Local producers are threatened as never before by competitors from a distance, mobilizing a protectionist populism that endangers the future for all. READ MORE

Can Government Employees Criticize the Government?

Can government employees be legally fired for criticizing the government?

It’s a question that many federal workers are asking as they look for ways to express opposition to their new boss but keep their jobs. During the presidential campaign last year, one survey found that 95 percent of federal workers’ donations went to Hillary Clinton. Now they find themselves working for President Donald Trump, the candidate they tried to beat. READ MORE