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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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...

Pay and Performance Must Be Credibly Managed

January 18, 2017 Effective compensation management is not based on a “schedule.” It needs to be responsive to changing circumstances. In 1990, when Connie Newman, then the director of the Office of Personnel Management, initiated the project that led to the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act, she formed a group of influential people...

Sure, Some Feds Are Overpaid

January 17, 2017 The critics are right; the General Schedule system is broken and needs to be replaced. It no longer meets the needs of government. The introduction of locality pay 26 years ago is the only change in more than half a century. It may be the oldest pay system in the...

Civil Service Reform Is Coming; Employees Need to Play a Role

January 2, 2017 It’s safe to say that civil service reform is inevitable. The Trump campaign made that clear. The political winds appear to be solidly behind the need for change, and over the past decade, several states have successfully initiated reforms. Federal employees and the unions that represent them need to acknowledge...

Welcome to the End of Business as Usual in Government

November 30, 2016 Consider this as a friendly forewarning. It was prompted by a Washington Post article, “Trump has a plan for government workers. They’re not going to like it.” Leaders who join the new administration from the business world are likely to focus far more on internal performance issues. It is common...

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