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Amid All the Pomp, Where Are the Public Management Degrees?

May 19, 2015 This is the season for graduations. My son finally made it, graduating from Penn State with a degree in political science. (He did well.) In perusing the commencement receptions for each major, I thought there might be faculty in attendance who share my professional interests. That prompted me to search ...

Another Fed Survey? Don't Ask If You're Not Ready to Fix the Problems

May 11, 2015 The Office of Personnel Management recently released its Senior Executive Service Exit Survey Results, which prompted this headline in The Washington Post: “Uncle Sam Had Better Start Treating His Employees Right.” This month, of course, is when OPM encourages employees to respond to the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. These ...

It’s Not Too Late to Strengthen the Workforce

May 5, 2015 This headline on the tentative budget deal says it all: “Feds Dodge Bullet in Budget Deal, But Sequester Cuts Still Coming.” Federal workers should apparently feel good because there are no specific plans to reduce pay or benefits. In reality, the deal extends the negative atmosphere through the end of ...

Government Needs Better Management, Obviously

April 27, 2015 Each year presidents announce in their budget proposal a list of projects intended to improve life in the U.S. An annual thread is the emphasis on the latest thinking in management. Starting two decades ago the plan was to adopt business management practices. Recently the focus has been on measurement ...

Google’s Lessons for Federal Workforce Management

April 15, 2015 Google’s head of human resources, Laszlo Bock (senior vice president, people operations), has received a lot of media attention for his book, Work Rules!, to be released this month. Hopefully, it will grab the attention of federal managers as well. It’s safe to say, Google is not like government. But ...

Emulating High Performance Companies Comes Down to One Thing

March 31, 2015 The track record of efforts to improve agency performance does not include many successes. When the 2010 GPRA Modernization Act was passed, one columnist referred to the new law “as the latest chapter in a history of U.S. federal performance reforms that have largely failed to meet expectations.” Three years ...

The Best or Worst: Government Has a Choice

March 11, 2015 Last week, Fortune magazine published the 2015 “100 Best Companies to Work For.” This year’s list includes 13 health care providers. Ironically on the same day, the Veterans Affairs Department, which operates more than 1,700 health care facilities nationwide, was described in a congressional hearing as “a terrible place to ...

The Positive Approach to Government’s Performance Problems

February 3, 2015 The evidence is mounting. Government performance has been adversely affected by budget cuts and deteriorating morale. The University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index for federal services has fallen for the second straight year. The overall score is now 64. For comparison, the U.S. Postal Service index is 72 and ...

How HR Departments Can Assert Their Value

January 9, 2015 There have been more than a few articles critical of human resources departments’ role in building healthy organizations. They have appeared in prominent business publications like Forbes and on a number of websites. One of the most frequently cited is “Why We Hate HR,” published in the journal Fast Company ...

Rethinking Federal Pay Should Be a Promise, Not a Threat

December 3, 2014 Next year will mark 25 years since the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act was enacted. The law provided for the alignment of General Schedule salaries with nonfederal pay levels—less 5 percent to reflect the value of federal benefits. The law provided for increases starting in 1994 to close the pay ...