AUTHOR ARCHIVES

Howard Risher

Workforce Management Consultant Howard Risher is a consultant focusing on pay and performance. In 1990, he managed the project that led to the passage of the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act and the transition to locality pay. Howard has worked with a variety of federal and state agencies, the United Nations and OECD. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Penn State and an MBA and Ph.D. in business from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is the co-author of the new book It's Time for High-Performance Government: Winning Strategies to Engage and Energize the Public Sector Workforce (2016), with Bill Wilder.
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The Annual Pay Ritual Has Lost Relevance

December 11, 2017 Few seem to have noticed, but the Federal Salary Council has not met this year and new members have not been appointed. Last year, the council’s conclusions were reported by the media in October and its report was submitted to the President’s Pay Agent in December. That was somewhat later...

Overcoming the Strategy Execution Gap

December 7, 2017 Government’s workforce is uniquely well educated. Over 50 percent of the white-collar workforce has earned at least a bachelor’s degree. In the U.S. population, only 30 percent are college graduates. Agencies employ more than 35,000 practicing lawyers, 90,000 scientists and 105,000 engineers. Many have worked for years at the forefront...

Federal Managers Should Learn From Denver’s ‘Peak Performance’ Program

November 30, 2017 It should not have been surprising when the House unanimously passed the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act (H.R. 4174) earlier this month. The goal, as Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., noted in remarks aimed at encouraging the Senate to pass the bill, is “to make sure federal policies are driven by...

The Potential Payoff for Applying Metrics and Analytics to Government Is Significant

November 17, 2017 Our recent column on metrics and analytics triggered several stimulating exchanges. One thread running through the reaction to these proven practices, which have been widely used in business for decades, is that they have not gained broad support in government. Corporate managers are inundated daily by performance data. And of...

It’s Time to Improve Government’s Use of Metrics and Analytics

November 9, 2017 The final report by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking promises to refocus attention on the use of performance data. This is not new of course; the use of metrics has evolved over more than two decades across all levels of government. Even with extensive experience, the Commission was created by...

A Blueprint for Improving Government's HR Function

October 24, 2017 Government, at its core, is its employees and their commitment to serve the country. That fact is too often overlooked. While technology enables employees to make better, faster decisions, until artificial intelligence replaces the acquired knowledge of employees, agency performance will continue to depend on the skill and dedication of...

It’s Time to Erase ‘Seniority’ From the Management Lexicon

October 17, 2017 If there is one word that has outlived its usefulness in government management, it’s the word ‘seniority.’ Somehow it sends the message that performance is not important. In the administration of the General Schedule, seniority is the basis for step increases and plays a far too important role in promotions...

Needed: A Commitment to Effective Performance Management

October 5, 2017 Several recent columns highlight how difficult and complex it will be for agencies to realize the Administration’s goals for “reforming the federal government and reducing the federal civilian workforce.” The stated objectives, starting with “create a lean, accountable, more efficient government,” essentially boil down to this: doing more with less....

Another Misleading Claim About Federal Pay

September 26, 2017 One of the rituals of Washington occurred last week. A new report from the libertarian Cato Institute argued that federal employees are paid above market rates: “Federal Pay Outpaces Private Pay in 2016.” Similar claims have been made annually by one or more think tanks for more than a decade....

Memo to Government Reformers: Don’t Forget the Soft Stuff

September 19, 2017 The Trump Administration is committed to restructuring government. Recently the Volcker Alliance and the Partnership for Public Service announced a joint blueprint for reform, Renewing America’s Civil Service. Together those initiatives promise to change the bureaucracy—the regulations, rules, systems, reporting relationships, assigned duties, etc. You could argue that the prospect...