Smart Management

So You Won the Governor’s Race, Now What?

By the start of the new year, there will be a number of new governors taking the reins of power. We’ll leave it to the political prognosticators to predict the impact these new governors will ultimately have on policy in their states. What’s clear to us is that the success of the new administrations will be largely contingent on the skill and care with which they manage the transition from the old regime to their first terms.

MORE: Read the rest of the December issue. READ MORE

An Outsourcing Reversal, Misnamed Agencies and Reading Recommendations

We’re seeing state and local governments moving outsourced programs back in-house. One reason for this trend that we've heard from several sources is the lack of responsiveness among private-sector contractors to providing data. This was one of the key reasons that North Carolina's Orange County increased the use of public employees in its recycling efforts while reducing the use of private contractors. "We could not get decent data from our private-sector partners to help make decisions," said Blair Pollock, solid waste planner for Orange County, speaking at the Public Administration Conference at the University of North Carolina's School of Government.

If you’re not from Texas, you might think that the Texas Railroad Commission is charged with dealing with railroads in the state. But that’s not the case. In fact, its main function is the regulation of oil and gas. Moreover, it hasn’t had any jurisdiction over railroads at all since 2005. Does it matter if the name of a government organization has little to do with what it actually does? READ MORE

Good Ideas Get Government Employees Extra Cash

Just about every state has an employee suggestion program, and in many cases, employees get financially rewarded if their suggestion is implemented and saves the state money.

In West Virginia and Washington state, workers can get up to $10,000 for an implemented idea. In Alabama, which recently reignited its program after eliminating it in 2007 due to the economic downturn, employees can get $1,000 for an implemented suggestion or up to $5,000 when a suggestion results in extraordinary savings. In North Carolina, employees can get either money for a suggestion that results in savings or increased revenue, or up to 24 hours of extra paid time-off for quality improvements. READ MORE

The Rise of Customer-Centered Human Services

Everyone may be equal in the eyes of government, but that does not mean everyone is the same. One of the great weaknesses in human services over the past century is that they have operated with a mass-production, one-size-fits-all approach. In many circumstances, that is no longer necessary or appropriate.

This recognition is giving rise to a new wave of experimentation across human-services programs rooted in the premise that customized program design and delivery, based on a deeper understanding of the customers being served, will lead to better outcomes. READ MORE

Measuring the Impact of Public Innovation in the Wild

With complex, seemingly intractable problems such as inequality, climate change and affordable access to health care plaguing contemporary society, traditional institutions such as government agencies and nonprofit organizations often lack strategies for tackling them effectively and legitimately. For this reason, this year the MacArthur Foundation launched its Research Network on Opening Governance.

The Network, which I chair and which also is supported by Google.org, is what MacArthur calls a "research institution without walls." It brings together a dozen researchers across universities and disciplines, with an advisory network of academics, technologists, and current and former government officials, to study new ways of addressing public problems using advances in science and technology. READ MORE