Smart Management

The Long, Long Haul of Civic Progress

In March, Mayor Bob Buckhorn dedicated the latest section of Tampa's Riverwalk, which now stretches nearly two miles down a river and along a channel leading to Tampa Bay. As he cut the ribbon, Buckhorn said something that must have puzzled some in the audience: "This is a day that we have waited for for decades."

For decades? Actually, yes. You see, the Tampa Riverwalk was proposed in 1975 by then-Mayor Bill Poe -- as a Bicentennial project. The celebration of the American Bicentennial was in 1976. The Riverwalk has, well, taken longer than expected. READ MORE

Why Evidence-Based Policymaking Is Just the Beginning

State legislatures are turning to evidence-based policymaking as a way to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively. This is a very important development. For example, many states -- in response to research confirming that the early years of childhood affect learning, behavior and health for a lifetime -- have invested in family support and coaching programs.

These programs, often referred to as "home visiting," focus on strengthening vulnerable families during the critical period before age 5. Evidence shows that families that participate in visiting programs are often more stable and self-sufficient and are better able to handle stress. At the same time, parents who benefit from family support and coaching programs frequently raise their children with greater skill and confidence, leaving the children safer, healthier and better prepared to learn and grow. READ MORE

The New Laws You Probably Won't Read About Anywhere Else

In the spring and early summer, as legislative sessions end, summaries of new state laws pop up in articles and reports. They’re helpful for keeping track of legislation and provide a useful overview of emerging trends, but it’s rare for those lists to include legislative policies related to the management of government. 

We’re talking about laws mandating performance reporting, restructurings or civil service reform. These kinds of mandates usually originate in the executive branch, but ignoring legislative input leaves out a big part of the story. So we decided to find some of the most significant pieces of management-related legislation passed and enacted into law in 2015.  READ MORE

Exit Interviews: Increasingly Important But Often Forgotten

One of the great challenges that cities, counties and states face is hiring and retaining competent, reliable employees. Things were a little easier during the Great Recession, when public service was the proverbial port in a storm for many job applicants. But private entities are hiring again. At the same time, governments are facing a growing wave of retirees, making it a greater challenge to maintain an adequately trained workforce.

There are some obvious -- but largely impractical -- approaches to this issue. Cities and states could, for example, raise pay levels. For most, that’s unaffordable. Or they could provide heftier benefits. But given the killer costs of pensions and postretirement health care right now, boosting benefits is fiscally and politically unsupportable almost everywhere. READ MORE

The Role of the Customer Experience in the Value of Government

We pay an inordinate amount of attention to the price or cost of government. It's time to transition the discussion to the value of government. Governments that provide the consumers of their services--their citizens, businesses and residents--with a satisfying consumer experience also go a long way toward creating a sense of place, that all-important feeling of connection and belonging so central to a community's well-being.

As democratic institutions, governments are responsible for delivering services and programs in an equitable manner and for creating social goods--public safety, infrastructure, education--that individuals otherwise would be unable to achieve on their own. But progressive leaders also recognize that ours is increasingly an experience-based economy. READ MORE