Smart Management

The Manageable Challenge of Tax Incentives

Every state uses financial incentives, often in the form of tax credits or cash grants, to encourage business growth and job creation. However, this economic development strategy has led to serious budget challenges in many states.

In May, for example, Michigan officials projected that because businesses were redeeming more in incentives than the state was collecting in corporate taxes, it would suffer a net loss in revenue from its major business taxes in the current fiscal year. Hawaii ended an incentive program for high-tech businesses in 2010 amid concerns about its effectiveness, but a 2015 audit showed that the state could still be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars because of prior incentive commitments. Oklahoma is unsure when businesses will use more than $400 million in tax credits the state offered, a situation that one official described in an interview with Oklahoma Watch as "a huge wild card" for the budget. READ MORE

5 Common Headaches on Government Websites

Just 20 years ago, we wrote an article that called the fact that “at least ten states have begun to post legislative or consumer information on the Internet” a “dramatic development.” Today, even the tiniest communities -- like Union, Ct., which boasts a population of less than 1,000 -- are expected to have their own websites.

But even with all these open electronic doors, users who walk through can be easily disappointed and misinformed.  READ MORE

Building Government’s ‘Employer Value’

It wasn't that long ago that the idea that a governmental jurisdiction or agency should be seen as a "brand," like Coca-Cola or Southwest Airlines, was an unnerving concept to many people in the public sector. In the past few years, however, most have come to embrace the idea, or at least to give it grudging acceptance. But while there are still some holdouts, you won't find many of them among government human-resources managers who face the formidable task of rebuilding public workforces in a post-recession era when vast numbers of baby boomers are heading for the retirement exits.

What's particularly daunting about today's public-workforce challenge is that it's not just a matter of filling empty seats. It's about enticing and retaining the talented, dedicated workers governments need now more than ever. That's where branding serves a crucial role. Every organization, public or private or nonprofit, has what's known as an "employer value proposition." The EVP is a unique set of values and attributes that communicates the organization's image -- for better or worse -- to its target audiences. READ MORE

Problem With Government? There May Be an Ombud for That.

“Many parents of children with special needs ... find it difficult to get the services they need for their youngsters and so they come to us,” says state Sen. Diane Allen, who represents a district in Burlington County, N.J.  

While it's good for lawmakers to know about issues concerning citizens, they often don't have time to investigate every complaint. They also may be biased toward one agency or another. READ MORE

The Difficult Art of Responding to Public Criticism

How do you respond when your agency or jurisdiction is called out for poor performance, terrible customer service or even scandal? When the charges are false, how do you correct the record without appearing defensive? When there's some truth to the allegations, how do you regain public trust (and fix the problem)? This is far more art than science, but one thing is for certain: Nothing is more important than your initial response.

First, some tips on how not to respond. Don't blame the messenger, minimize the problem or circle the wagons. That only raises suspicions. At the same time, it's important not to accept the criticism at face value; you need time to investigate what happened. If there is some truth to the allegations, you'll need to address the problem and recover from the bad press. Don't make matters worse by issuing initial responses you'll need to correct later. READ MORE