Smart Management

Lessons From Cities Trying to Be Better Buyers

Trice Construction was frustrated. For years, the Chicago contractor for sidewalks, curbs, gutters, foundations and pavement had been dealing with the procurement process in the city and its six independent agencies: the housing authority, the park district, public schools, the transit authority, city colleges and the public building commission.

Among the procurement problems that had troubled Trice, as well as other companies, had been the separate and inconsistent procurement systems for each agency. The challenges consisted of distinct dollar thresholds for various bids; a variety of definitions for emergency procurements that don’t go through the regular bidding process; and variations in the number of hours that make up a standard working day. “Each agency had its own set of standards,” says Stephanie Hickman, Trice’s president and CEO. READ MORE

Public Policy and the Blame Game

"It may not be your fault, but it is your problem."

The first time I heard that phrase, I was 3,000 feet in the air, piloting a single-engine plane, with a hood wrapped around my head that blocked all view of the horizon and the ground. Beside me, the instructor watched as I struggled to scan the instrument panel and keep the plane within the instrument flight rules tolerance of 100 feet above or below the assigned altitude. READ MORE

Is a 40-Hour Workweek Enough in Government?

Do you have trouble getting all your work done in a 35- to 40-hour week?

More than half (53 percent) of local government officials do, according to a survey by the Governing Exchange, a research arm of Governing. It polled nearly 300 executives and senior managers in cities, counties and special districts.  READ MORE

The Wrong Lessons From a Voting Fiasco

For the 2016 presidential primary season, it was the classic and inevitable television "election moment": As the clock ticked past midnight, thousands of Maricopa County, Ariz., voters were still standing in line to cast ballots in Arizona's presidential primary.

Longtime County Recorder Helen Purcell soon became the logical "film-at-11" culprit, especially after she'd initially suggested, not implausibly, that nearly 20,000 non-party-affiliated voters who couldn't legally cast ballots in Arizona's closed presidential primary had clogged the lines by showing up anyway on March 22. READ MORE

Can Government Be Too Transparent?

Open records laws make it possible for the public to get their hands on valuable government information. That's generally a good thing.

But there are a number of instances in which greater transparency can actually work against public-sector employees and taxpayers. READ MORE