Smart Management

Why Evidence-Based Policymaking Is Just the Beginning

State legislatures are turning to evidence-based policymaking as a way to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and effectively. This is a very important development. For example, many states -- in response to research confirming that the early years of childhood affect learning, behavior and health for a lifetime -- have invested in family support and coaching programs.

These programs, often referred to as "home visiting," focus on strengthening vulnerable families during the critical period before age 5. Evidence shows that families that participate in visiting programs are often more stable and self-sufficient and are better able to handle stress. At the same time, parents who benefit from family support and coaching programs frequently raise their children with greater skill and confidence, leaving the children safer, healthier and better prepared to learn and grow. READ MORE

The New Laws You Probably Won't Read About Anywhere Else

In the spring and early summer, as legislative sessions end, summaries of new state laws pop up in articles and reports. They’re helpful for keeping track of legislation and provide a useful overview of emerging trends, but it’s rare for those lists to include legislative policies related to the management of government. 

We’re talking about laws mandating performance reporting, restructurings or civil service reform. These kinds of mandates usually originate in the executive branch, but ignoring legislative input leaves out a big part of the story. So we decided to find some of the most significant pieces of management-related legislation passed and enacted into law in 2015.  READ MORE

Exit Interviews: Increasingly Important But Often Forgotten

One of the great challenges that cities, counties and states face is hiring and retaining competent, reliable employees. Things were a little easier during the Great Recession, when public service was the proverbial port in a storm for many job applicants. But private entities are hiring again. At the same time, governments are facing a growing wave of retirees, making it a greater challenge to maintain an adequately trained workforce.

There are some obvious -- but largely impractical -- approaches to this issue. Cities and states could, for example, raise pay levels. For most, that’s unaffordable. Or they could provide heftier benefits. But given the killer costs of pensions and postretirement health care right now, boosting benefits is fiscally and politically unsupportable almost everywhere. READ MORE

The Role of the Customer Experience in the Value of Government

We pay an inordinate amount of attention to the price or cost of government. It's time to transition the discussion to the value of government. Governments that provide the consumers of their services--their citizens, businesses and residents--with a satisfying consumer experience also go a long way toward creating a sense of place, that all-important feeling of connection and belonging so central to a community's well-being.

As democratic institutions, governments are responsible for delivering services and programs in an equitable manner and for creating social goods--public safety, infrastructure, education--that individuals otherwise would be unable to achieve on their own. But progressive leaders also recognize that ours is increasingly an experience-based economy. READ MORE

Public Employees and the Path to Resilience

Resilience -- the ability to bounce back from a significant challenge -- is on many professionals' minds these days. Schoolteachers, middle managers, psychologists, leaders in homeland security and others are trying to learn where resilience comes from and how to help people develop it. Given the enormous demands on government employees today, it's no surprise that resilience is on their minds as well.

How does resilience develop? Why is it that a child who demonstrates great resilience has a sibling who shows little or none? Can resilience be learned? Recent research on resilient children offers some clues to these important questions. READ MORE