Smart Management

Upgrading Government's IT 101

When employees at Chesterfield County, Va.'s Department of Revenue go into work on Monday and boot up their computers, they'll face a new IT system for carrying out their jobs. It's been in development for over a year, but the agency realized only last month that there were no plans to make sure the people tasked with using the new system actually know how.

“It was poor planning, but the department was under the impression that the vendor was going to supply the training,” says Kevin Bruny, director of Chesterfield County’s Learning and Performance Center, which rushed to help the department create a training program. READ MORE

How States Can Make the Most of Their Rainy Day Funds

Texas policymakers are grappling with an unusual question: how -- and even if -- to spend some of the state's ample savings. As of the end of the last fiscal year, the state's rainy day fund had amassed $9.7 billion, the largest fund in the country as measured in dollars.

That may seem like a welcome quandary. After all, some states lack a robust savings account like the Lone Star State's Economic Stabilization Fund. But Texas lawmakers disagree on how to use their fund, and similar arguments are playing out in many other states where rainy day reserves have grown, leaving policymakers to debate whether they should tap them and for what reasons. READ MORE

Curating a Healthy Workplace Culture in Government

It's practically impossible to name even a single highly successful organization, one that is a recognized leader in its field of endeavor, that does not have a distinctive, readily identifiable organizational culture. Most scholars and practitioners now recognize that the culture of an organization has a powerful effect on its performance and long-term effectiveness.

Indeed, many efforts to improve organizational performance fail because the fundamental culture -- values, ways of thinking, managerial styles, approaches to problem-solving -- remains the same. Even when procedures and strategies are altered, organizations quickly return to the "we've always done it that way" status quo. READ MORE

The Pros and Cons of Telecommuting to a Government Gig

Weight loss is hard. In San Jose, Calif., though, people who work for the city say their employer is making it easier.

How? Teleworking. In 2014, San Jose formally started letting its employees work some days from home. One municipal worker claims to have lost 15 pounds and four inches since she started with the program. "My cholesterol level is under control now, and I sleep better," says Reena Brilliot, the point person on the city's efforts to expand its teleworking program. READ MORE

Public Administration and the Limits of Loyalty

It has been widely reported since the inception of Donald Trump's campaign for the presidency that loyalty is the quality he values most in those who work for him. This was the case in his business career and is also the case in his new administration. Trump, for example, reportedly was irked when FBI Director James Comey, whom the president later fired, would not pledge his loyalty to him.

This obsession with loyalty surprised and puzzled me because it was altogether absent from my own experience in public administration. I was a local-government manager for 38 years, including 29 as a city manager. Employee performance, including hiring, firing, promoting and demoting, was a subject I attended to every day of those 38 years. Never once did I encounter an employee-performance issue that involved loyalty or a lack thereof. It never occurred to me to ask for loyalty, to evaluate in terms of loyalty or to even raise the subject. READ MORE