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The Myth of the Alpha Leader is Destroying Our Relationships — At Work and At Home

According to a Fox News article written by Suzanne Venker, women’s achievements in the workplace are dooming their marriages. As women are increasingly “groomed to be leaders rather than to be wives, [they] become too much like men. They’re too competitive. Too masculine. Too alpha.” The author’s premise is that the husband is meant to be the alpha in the household, and cohabiting alphas are like “like two bulls hanging out in the same pen together.”

I take exception to this article, but not for the obvious reason. The contention that women’s success at work leads to marital dissolution is so laughably unsupported by facts that it’s hardly worth disputing. Divorce rates are strongly negatively correlated with women’s educational attainment and income level, as well as the rise of two-income families. While University of Chicago economists made a splash a few years back by reporting that marital satisfaction is diminished when wives earn more than husbands, a more up-to-date study paints a more nuanced picture: Unequal incomes are associated with marriage instability regardless of who earns more, but having a career decreases a woman’s probability of divorce by a whopping 25%. Equal-earning marriages...

An Old Contracting Approach Could Be Just What the New Administration Needs

The Trump administration should revisit an old, results-based approach to contracting currently prevalent in the private sector—share-in-savings, also known as gain share. Unlike other types of contracts that commit the government to funding a project upfront, a share-in-savings contract requires the government to make only a minimal, upfront investment to begin a project, paying the contractor only when agreed-upon milestones or expected results are realized.

Share-in-savings contracts begin with specific agreed-upon measures, measurement methods, targets, timing, and rewards earned from successful results. The contractor is paid if it meets or exceeds the agreed-upon targets in the specified time. Further, if savings against the established cost baseline are generated, both the government and the contractor share in the savings. This incentivizes the contractor to save the government money, and helps ensure that the government does not pay for work done poorly or not at all.

It’s not a new concept for the federal government. During the George W. Bush administration, the 2002 E-Government Act authorized share-in-savings contracts for information technology investments. The General Services Administration awarded share-in-savings blanket purchase agreement to six companies. However, by 2005, no task orders had been awarded, and the budget authority was revoked.

The...

Americans Just Experienced Their Biggest Spike in Stress in a Decade

Americans are seriously stressed out.

After a bruising election that saw Donald Trump take the reigns of a divided nation, two-thirds of Americans—including a majority of both Democrats and Republicans—say they are stressed about the future of the country, according to a recent survey (pdf) released by the American Psychological Association (APA). Some 57% of the 1,019 respondents pointed to the current political climate as a very or somewhat significant source of stress, and nearly 49% say the same about the outcome of the election.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats were far more stressed about Trump’s election; 72% Democrats named the result of the 2016 presidential election as a significant source of stress, compared with just 26% of Republicans. But a majority of both Republicans (59%) and Democrats (76%) said the future of the country was a significant source of stress for them. Respondents were also stressed about terrorism, police violence toward minorities, and personal safety.

“When you’re asking about the future of the nation, my concerns about the future of the nation could be quite different than yours,” said Vaile Wright, a psychologist and member of the APA team that conducted the survey.

Love him or loathe...

Why Hiring Freezes Don’t Work

Team Trump rode into town determined to disrupt the federal government. One of the very first disrupters was a hiring freeze on federal employees, with a promise to reduce the size of government through attrition. That has certainly disrupted government—but it’s missed the chance for the real transformation that President Trump promised and that the federal government desperately needs.

The freeze is a clumsy tool aimed at the wrong problem. Lessons from past administrations (both Democratic and Republican) teach us that hiring freezes inevitably—and quickly—crack and thaw. Shrinking the workforce through attrition is guaranteed only to produce a federal bureaucracy badly out of step with the government we want.

Here’s why. There’s no such thing as “the federal bureaucracy.”  In fact, the bureaucracy falls into four buckets.

First, there are the big-three entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. They account for 51 percent of all federal spending, but the agencies managing them employ just over 3 percent of federal employees. If you freeze employees in this group, you lose leverage over vast sums of money and open the door to waste, fraud, and abuse. In fact, each employee in the Centers for Medicare...

A New Approach to Fighting Fraud in Federal Benefits Programs

Legislators may disagree over the amount the country should spend on government benefits, but one fact will always have bipartisan agreement -- the level of fraud, waste and abuse plaguing benefit programs is too high. Although some progress has been made, including a 50 percent decrease in the number of fraudulent tax returns reported by the IRS this past year, the federal government still has a long way to go. To illustrate the severity of the problem, the Government Accountability Office recently reported that the estimated amount of improper payments in fiscal 2015 across 121 government programs was $136.7 billion, up $12 billion from the previous year.

This negative trend is likely to continue as criminals steal more and more identities and open new, more sophisticated avenues of attack. Census data indicates 110 million Americans -- more than a third of the population -- are currently receiving means-tested federal assistance of some kind. Historically, more than half of all Americans have received benefits from at least one of the top six federal entitlement programs, according to the Pew Research Center. A lack of resources, the need to ensure citizens receive benefit payments as quickly as possible, and an increased transition to electronic...

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