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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Breaking Through Government’s Time Warp

October 11, 2018 The August newsletter from the Merit Systems Protection Board recognized the 40th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978: The statute was “the most significant [civil service] reform since the Pendleton Act, almost 100 years earlier.” It was enacted to “to improve efficiency, accountability and...

The Urgency of Strengthening and Redefining HR

October 3, 2018 The new report from the National Academy of Public Administration, “No Time To Wait, Part 2: Building a Public Service for the 21st Century,” reinforces the importance of rebuilding the federal workforce, the theme of my recent column, “The Skills Shortage and Federal Compensation.” The problem, as summarized in the...

The Skills Shortage and Federal Compensation

September 27, 2018 The cost of ignoring the workforce problems attributable to the General Schedule is very real and gets worse year after year. The GS system may well contribute to every government performance problem but the politics downplay its importance. Until it’s replaced, the problems will get progressively worse. This column was...

Metrics Are for Playmakers

September 19, 2018 The General Accountability Office reconfirmed a pervasive management problem in its new report in the Managing for Results series. The title defines the problem: “Governmentwide Actions Needed to Improve Agencies' Use of Performance Information in Decision Making.” This is not a new theme for GAO but apparently their past recommendations...

Who is Accountable for Agency Performance?

September 4, 2018 The steps to improve performance are best seen as a puzzle; no single action is likely to have much impact. The pieces are well known—research has highlighted what’s needed—but government has trouble putting them together. The problem affects organizations in every sector but it’s far more complex in government. In...

It’s Time to Invest in Managers

August 20, 2018 The plans to reform government “to be more efficient, effective and accountable” ride largely on the commitment of federal employees and civil service reform. Yes, strategies and metrics are important; technology is important. However, research by Gallup and others shows that employee performance—both good and bad—depends more on the effectiveness...

Smart Use of Incentives Would Support Government Reform

August 9, 2018 Incentives are omnipresent in our society. Educators use them to promote learning, banks use them to promote online bill-paying, employers use them to promote wellness (and lower health insurance costs). The list is long. Rewarding good performance—or at least the kind of performance you’re trying to encourage—is deeply entrenched in...

On Gaining Acceptance for Performance Pay in Government

August 1, 2018 In stating its concern with the proposed 1.9 percent salary increase, the Office of Management and Budget recently argued that “Across-the-board pay increases have long-term fixed costs, yet fail to address existing pay disparities, or target mission critical recruitment and retention goals.” Equally important, general increases do not contribute to...

The Pay Gap Analysis is a House of Cards

July 11, 2018 What are you going to believe, the statistics or your lying eyes? That 32 percent pay gap between what federal employees make versus their private sector counterparts outlined in the latest Federal Salary Council report is based on a staggeringly complex methodology that cannot be validated. One of the two...

It’s Premature to Break Up OPM

June 26, 2018 The proposal to break up the Office of Personnel Management is getting the proverbial cart before the horse. It makes no sense to initiate a major reorganization before deciding why that’s necessary or before defining what the new organization is expected to achieve. A key step would be to develop...