Howard Risher

Workforce Management Consultant Howard Risher is a consultant on pay and performance and previously managed consulting practices for two national firms. In 1990, he managed the Office of Personnel Management 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 is the author of several books, the ebook, "Primer on Total Compensation in Government," and the forthcoming "Its Time for High Performance Government: Winning Strategies to Engage and Energize the Workforce," to be published this summer. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Penn State and an MBA and Ph.D. in business and applied economics from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
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Why Federal Bonus Awards Are a Problem

March 22, 2016 Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, may not appreciate it fully but his interest in bonuses could open the Pandora’s box of workforce management. The awards may be suspect but are only the result of underlying management weaknesses. Hopefully his intention is not to end future awards. The practice is almost universal...

Government’s IT Problem is Not Limited to Systems

February 17, 2016 Two recent headlines caught my attention. One, in FCW, reported that “Obama bemoans obsolete tech in budget request.” The second, in Federal Times, reported, “Budget projects ‘largest relative pay cut’ for feds.” While FCW quoted a comment by President Obama about the “400 people in the Social Security Administration whose...

Improving Engagement Scores Is the Wrong Goal

November 4, 2015 In December 2014, the Office of Management and Budget sent a 13-page memo to agency heads, “Strengthening Employee Engagement and Organizational Performance.” The purpose was to confirm the importance of the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and the index adopted as a measure of engagement. The memo requires Senior Executive Service...

Apples, Oranges and Kumquats: Analyzing Federal Pay

October 13, 2015 News stories about federal pay and benefits are rarely comical, but every now and then they highlight a claim that is so blatantly political that I have to smile. The latest is about a Cato report focusing on the gap between the average wage for federal civilian employees, $84,153, and...

Will New Regs Trigger Better Executive Performance?

October 2, 2015 Efforts to improve government management typically focus on proven practices in the private sector. To be sure, there are differences between the business and the government executive -- compensation is the most obvious -- but both are the front line for planning and management of their organizations. Both are accountable...

‘Appalling’ Is the Right Word for the Civil Service System

September 21, 2015 “Appalling” is a good choice of words to describe the plight of civilian employees at the Defense Department. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s comments on Title 5, which governs the federal personnel system, confirm that the Pentagon wants to tackle the problem of workforce management. Government’s human resources policies and systems...

It’s Time to Rethink the Way Work Is Managed

September 3, 2015 In a column last week on government’s need for improved performance management practices, the Office of Personnel Management’s deputy associate director noted the challenges are becoming “exponentially more complex” and “global in nature.” Steve Shih is correct that “the answer lies in maintaining an engaged and valued workforce.” He’s also...

Agencies Should Celebrate Their Accomplishments

August 31, 2015 The reports of performance problems make the headlines but it’s rare to find success stories reported any place. It’s surprisingly difficult to find positive stories of government. There have been a couple of articles looking at the “greatest achievements” over the past half century but apparently nothing good has happened...

GE Saw the Light on Performance, Government Should Too

August 19, 2015 It’s happened again. Another major corporation has dramatically changed the way it manages employee performance. This time it’s General Electric. That’s important because the new approach is in direct contrast to the indefensible “rank and yank” philosophy attributed to former GE chief executive Jack Welch. That process involved a forced...

Government Is Losing the War for the Best and Brightest

August 12, 2015 It’s always great to find someone who agrees with you. The August cover story of Fortune, “Humans Are Underrated,” also the title of Geoff Colvin's new book, says it far better than anything I could post. Colvin's basic argument is that computers can never fully replace people. Technology is replacing...

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