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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Agencies Need A STEM Talent Management System

August 8, 2017 The government’s technology problems are largely staffing problems. For years, workforce concerns were ignored. But high-profile data breaches have shifted the focus. Government’s technology problems are as complex and difficult to address as any in the world. Agencies need to be able to hire the best. That’s true in other...

Federal Unions Need to Redefine Their Role

July 31, 2017 It’s not fake news: The union movement is close to extinct in the private sector. Union membership now accounts for less than 7 percent of the workforce. In government, at all levels, the percentage is almost 35 percent. Federal unions have added members but total public sector membership fell from...

The Performance Revolution Government Needs

July 24, 2017 In a recent column, Terry Gerton, President of the National Academy of Public Administration, noted that government will not be able to solve many problems until the civil service system is reformed. NAPA’s new white paper, “No Time to Wait: Building a Public Service for the 21st Century,” spells out...

The High Cost of Low Engagement

July 13, 2017 It’s no secret: When people work in a stressful environment, they are less productive. But the cost goes far beyond that. In the U.S. economy, studies of high stress organizations have shown: Health care expenditures are nearly 50 percent higher. The American Psychological Association estimates more than 550 million workdays...

Agencies Could Learn a Lot From Tennessee's Shift to Pay for Performance

June 28, 2017 Federal agencies will certainly not be the first public employer to switch to pay for performance. Among the earliest were Florida in 1968 and Wisconsin and Utah in 1969. Over the next four decades, reports show another 20 states adopted the policy although almost half cover less than 10 percent...

Can Employees Embrace Government Restructuring?

June 19, 2017 A comment from a reader of a recent column highlighted for me a reality that could undermine President Trump’s plan to restructure government. The reader underscored the deeply entrenched cultural resistance to change in government and noted that employees (specifically in his former agency) are rewarded for not taking risks....

Government Needs to Redefine the HR Function

June 12, 2017 Something has been missing from recent columns and news stories about what federal workers can expect from the Trump administration regarding its plans for agencies. There are no reference or statements attributed to human resource offices. That’s true of the discussions of civil service reform as well. When workforce issues...

How to Create a New Federal Pay System Fair to Both Taxpayers and Employees

June 5, 2017 All the evidence suggests pay reform is coming. In the 2018 budget materials, the emphasis on rewarding top performers makes that clear (see the chapter on Strengthening the Federal Workforce in the Analytical Perspectives volume). George Nesterczuk’s nomination to head the Office of Personnel Management is the latest signal that...

Decoding Federal Employee Compensation

May 22, 2017 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....