Smart Management

How Government Can Benefit from Becoming Better Storytellers

When our now 20-something son was in high school, he announced that he learned best when he was being “entertained.” Into our minds popped visions of history being taught by a man on stilts, and physics lessons being sung to the tune of “The Impossible Dream.” We were dubious.

It’s only now that we’ve begun to understand what he was talking about -- and that he’s very much in line with a significant trend in government. Simple statements of fact supplemented by statistics isn’t enough when communicating with the public. Storytelling is the key to getting a message across not only to the public, but also to managers, legislators and public-sector employees. READ MORE

The Government Workforce in an Era of Wage Stagnation

There's been a lot of talk lately about wage stagnation among middle-class workers, but there is growing evidence that this may be an even larger issue for state and local government employees -- one likely to make it harder for these governments to attract and retain the workforces they need.

Unlike the private sector, state and local government employment remains smaller than it was before the Great Recession. At its peak in 2008, these governments had 19,748,000 employees. In the six years after that, states and localities shed an estimated 565,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). READ MORE

Mixed Reviews on Disclosing Tax Incentives

Back in the last century, actors, playwrights and producers of Broadway shows would linger on opening night in the famous restaurant, Sardi’s, awaiting the newspaper reviews. While there are minimal similarities between the board members of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) and the cast of My Fair Lady, they do have one thing in common: When the board decides to move forward on a project and issues a draft for public comment, there’s a great deal of anticipation awaiting the thoughts of a variety of individuals and organizations with strong opinions about GASB’s proposals.

The organization has recently been through that process with its recent proposal for governments to share data about tax incentive programs. GASB is the rule-making body for local government public disclosure in America. Its pronouncements form the backbone of generally accepted accounting principles. READ MORE

The Turnover Gap, Why School Leadership Matters, Medicaid's Revolving Door and More

Policymakers focus a lot of attention on community colleges. The common hope is that they can be silver passes for lower-income students to good jobs, but a recent research brief from the Community College Research Center highlights some disturbing statistics. While 80 percent of students who enter community colleges expect to transfer to four-year institutions, only 25 percent actually do so within five years. 

The ramifications of credits that don't transfer can be enormous. According to the study, “the largest barrier to bachelor’s completion for community college students was loss of credits upon transfer." These credit losses occur partly because of poor communication between community colleges and universities, the complexity of the credit transfer process and the difficulty students have getting clear information and guidance. We’d think these would all be fixable problems, which are worthwhile addressing as more money is spent on community colleges. READ MORE

Government 2020: Imagining the Future

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. But how could the world of government be different if we could not only envision the future -- how things might be in, say, the year 2020 -- but also prepare for it?

Most senior public officials are so busy putting out fires and running their operations from day to day that it's hard for them to get a chance to think about technological and other trend lines and how they might impact the way governments operate and citizens are served. So let's step back and take a quick tour through government's possible not-so-distant future: READ MORE