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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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....

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...