Smart Management

The Do's and Dont's for Planning a Transition of Power

“The peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next is a hallmark of American democracy. But under the surface, the transition is rushed and chaotic.”

It would be hard to find observers of the management of transitions who disagree with that statement -- even when it applies to governors. READ MORE

Civic Collaboration’s Essential Elements

When it comes to improving cities, not much is certain, but of two things I am sure: The secret s lies in collaboration -- getting numerous independent interests working in coordinated ways on big problems. And one of the secrets of effective collaboration is knowing what each partner is good at so that each can contribute from its strengths.

If I'm right about this, then we need to think deeply about what each participant can bring to a collaboration. And we should begin with government, since it will be inevitably be central to almost every ambitious civic undertaking. READ MORE

Why Public-Sector Pay Is a Mess

The years since the recession have not been good ones for public employees. Talent was lost and pay levels for the most critical, skilled occupations have fallen steadily behind those of the private sector. Morale took a hit and in many jurisdictions has not recovered. Public service continues to attract young workers, but there have been reports of early turnover attributable to dissatisfaction with the work experience.

One measure of that dissatisfaction is the state of employees' engagement with their jobs, and here the news is not good. Gallup reports that 71 percent of state and local government employees are not engaged and that, troublingly, fully 17 percent are "actively disengaged." Those are averages. Currently I am working with a public organization where the number of employees who are actively disengaged exceeds 40 percent. The way this employer has administered pay is central to the dissatisfaction. READ MORE

What Government Workers and Managers Should Be Paying Attention to in 2017

The new year will likely bring significant changes to state and local government workforces.

Republicans are gaining more control at the federal and state levels than any party has had in decades. State pension plans have suffered from unpredictable returns. And weak revenues are causing the most state budget shortfalls since the Great Recession. READ MORE

When Professionalism and Political Ideology Collide

How should government's professionals respond when they are told to slash spending with no regard for consequences? I retired in 2010 from a 38-year career in government. Over all those years, I never needed to contemplate, much less answer, that question. But when I talk with current public-sector practitioners, I am asked it almost as a matter of routine.

Anti-government sentiment is now so prevalent that it is commonplace for career government administrators to find themselves working for elected officials who disdain the longstanding and traditional idea, much less any process, of weighing the costs and benefits of government spending. These elected officials want to reduce the size and scope of government institutions as an end in itself. How should conscientious career professionals, who have dedicated their careers to obtaining benefits for the public from government spending, respond when they are directed to disregard what they have always striven to accomplish? READ MORE