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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Decoding Federal Employee Compensation

8:52 AM ET Congressman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., took a step forward in leading the hearing on federal employee compensation last week. He asked for the facts. Presumably he meant facts that both sides of this ongoing debate can agree on. The absence of readily understood, verifiable data has perpetuated this contentious debate now...

A Straightforward Assessment of Federal Pay and Benefits is Badly Needed

May 9, 2017 The Congressional Budget Office once again has presented a contentious assessment of federal pay and benefits. In the years when federal pay was “frozen,” CBO data confirms salaries continued to increase, thanks to step increases and promotions. What’s more, federal benefits are more generous than those typical in other sectors....

OMB’s Biggest Challenge

May 3, 2017 The Trump administration’s ambitious plans to reorganize government highlight two core issues associated with maximizing performance. As described in guidance from White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, they are: 1) eliminating “barriers to hiring and retaining the workforce necessary to executive their missions” and 2) ensuring employee “performance expectations are...

How to Maximize Employee Performance

May 2, 2017 President Trump’s March 13 executive order, which requires agencies to develop plans to reorganize federal departments, potentially could lead to the most far reaching civil service reform in at least a century. It is badly needed. As OMB Director Mick Mulvaney noted in his guidance to agencies on fulfilling the...

Why Most Government Reform Plans Die

April 13, 2017 “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.” That quote is credited to the father of modern management, Peter Drucker. He was saying that leaders need to understand and address their organization’s culture in their planning. If Drucker’s focus was government, he might have said “culture eats strategy and reform plans for breakfast.”...

The Many Practical Hurdles to Transforming Government

March 31, 2017 This is not was the first nor is it likely to be the last column prompted by the Trump administration’s plan to reorganize government. There appears to be broad based agreement that it’s needed, especially when it comes to upgrading technology. To repeat the title from a recent column, “Performance...

Firing a Few Employees Will Not Solve Government’s Big Problems

March 20, 2017 March 14 marked the fourth anniversary of a Government Accountability Office’s report about serious problems the Department of Veterans Affairs had in scheduling patients for care. GAO reported the failings in detail, a year before CNN's explosive 2014 report that some veterans died while waiting for care set off a...

Getting Serious About Employee Performance

February 27, 2017 President Trump recently stated, “Our moral duty to the taxpayer requires us to make our government leaner and more accountable. We must do a lot more with less.” Over time new technology will undoubtedly play an important role in this, but with budget cuts, the hiring freeze and planned workforce...

One More Time: Can Government Be Run Like a Business?

February 14, 2017 We may finally get an answer to the question. It surfaced again in a recent Sirius radio show, Knowledge@Wharton, “Can Government Be Run Like a Business?” when it was discussed by the University of Maryland’s Philip Joyce and Wharton’s Peter Conti-Brown. Their discussion was at the 10,000-foot level, at times...

OMB Nominee Needs to Understand Creating a 'High-Performing' Workforce Won't Be Easy

January 31, 2017 In his nomination hearing to lead the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney said he wants a “high-morale, high-performance” federal workforce, and that he plans to look for ways to better reward top employees and hold poor performers accountable. He will not have to look far. The creation...

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