Category Archives: Local Government

Residents Unsatisfied With Local Governments, Report Shows

Source: American City and County, April 27, 2009

Local communities lag well behind the federal government and the private sector in satisfying their residents, according to a study by Lansing, Mich.-based non-profit Cobalt Community Research and the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based CFI Group. The Cobalt Citizen Satisfaction Survey (CCSS) found that most of the dissatisfaction lies with how local tax dollars are spent.

Implications of the Family and Medical Leave Act for Local Governments: Helping Administrators Understand the Law

Source: P. Edward French, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 29 no. 1, March 2009
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993 to help full-time employees balance the conflicting demands of their work and personal lives. Private employers with 50 or more employees (at a single work site) and all federal, state, and local government employers are required to comply with the act. Since its inception, many local governments have been sued for violations of its guidelines. This research provides case examples from across the United States to illustrate why many local governments have faced litigation under this act. Several cases filed against cities and counties over the past 7 years are discussed. The intent of this analysis is to highlight many of the legal rights and protections that the FMLA affords to local government employees, to provide a practical understanding and guide for compliance with the requirements of this employment legislation.

Trade-off Time: How Four States Continue to Deliver

Source: Pew Center on the States, Issue Brief, February 2009

From the press release:
As governors and policy leaders put together their budgets this year in the face of serious shortfalls, states that use performance data to make decisions about where to cut and what to keep are saving taxpayer dollars.

More and more states, spurred by one of the most difficult fiscal environments in years, are making policy decisions based on research measuring the performance of government programs. Trade-off Time: How Four States Continue to Deliver, a report released today by The Pew Center on the States, features four states–Indiana, Maryland, Utah and Virginia–that are leaders in measuring the performance of government programs, and are making smarter budget decisions as a result.

Customer Service and 311/CRM Technology in Local Governments: Lessons on Connecting with Citizens

Source: Cory Fleming (ed.), ICMA, October 2008

This final report of ICMA’s National Study of 311 and Customer Service Technology serves as a valuable reference manual for local governments considering the implementation of a centralized customer service system.
Related story:
Helping Residents Help Themselves
Source: Annie Gentile, American City and County, April 2008

Vallejo’s Fiscal Freefall

Source: By ANYA SOSTEK, Governing, November 2008

Are other cities with budget trouble on the verge of asking the courts for relief?

……. A September report from the National League of Cities points to precarious fiscal conditions in cities across the nation, due to falling revenues from property, sales and income taxes and rising costs from inflation, energy, infrastructure, salaries, health care and pensions. “Vallejo is significant in the sense that the reasons they are doing it are factors that are going to be in place in cities across the country,” says Chris Hoene, director of policy and research for the National League of Cities. “You can see the Vallejo situation as something that cities across the country watch as a way to bring costs under control.”

Attempted Merger

Source: By JOSH GOODMAN, Governing, November 2008

States are pushing localities to consolidate — and localities are pushing back.

…… The common thread is that state officials in many places see local government as bloated and fractured. The result is a tense debate between states and localities over just what local government should look like.

The Winter Commission Report Revisited

Source: Supplement, Public Administration Review, Vol. 68 no. S1, December 2008
(subscription required)

From the introduction:
The featured authors cast considerable light on developments since the release of the National Commission on the State and Local Public Service’s report “Hard Truths/Tough Choices: An Agenda for State and Local Reform.” They note which of the various recommendations embedded in the report have taken root and which have not. They address the implications of Katrina and other new developments that the commission did not anticipate when we drafted our report. In sum, they provide a knowledge base that, in the spirit of the original commission, can help inform those committed to a new reform agenda.
Articles include:
State and Local Governance Fifteen Years Later: Enduring and New Challenges – Frank J. Thompson
Executive Orders and Administrative Control – Margaret R. Ferguson, Cynthia J. Bowling
Continuity and Change in Executive Leadership: Insights from the Perspectives of State Administrators – Brendan F. Burke, Chung-Lae Cho, Deil S. Wright
Strengthening Local Government Leadership and Performance: Reexamining and Updating the Winter Commission Goals – James H. Svara
Personnel Reform in the States: A Look at Progress Fifteen Years after the Winter Commission – Lloyd G. Nigro, J. Edward Kellough
State and Local Government Procurement and the Winter Commission – Matthew Potoski
From Measurement to Management: Breaking through the Barriers to State and Local Performance – Mary Bryna Sanger
The Evolution and Continuing Challenges of E-Governance – Sharon S. Dawes
Electronic Funds and Benefits Transfers, E-Government, and the Winter Commission – Maureen A. Pirog, Craig L. Johnson
State and Local Fiscal Sustainability: The Challenges – Jeffrey I. Chapman
The Challenge of Strengthening Nonprofits and Civil Society – Steven Rathgeb Smith
Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth: Challenges in Managing Philanthropic Support for Public Services – Charles Brecher, Oliver Wise
Learning from the States? Federalism and National Health Policy – Carol S. Weissert, Daniel Scheller
Federalism Revised: The Promise and Challenge of the No Child Left Behind Act -Kenneth K. Wong
Mega-Disasters and Federalism – Marc Landy

Performance Reporting: An Emerging Imperative with Unintended Consequences?

Source: Janet M. Kelly, State and Local Government Review, Vol. 40 no. 2, 2008
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
In November 2006, the Board of Trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation confirmed that the Governmental Accounting Standards Board had the jurisdictional authority to require Service Efforts and Accomplishments reporting in its financial accounting and reporting standard-setting activities for state and local governments. Reaction from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) and other organizations representing states and local governments was swift and negative. These organizations championed performance measurement as a management tool but resisted the board’s agenda to enhance accountability through performance reporting. Understanding this contradiction is aided by an exploration of how institutionalized performance reporting can redefine accountability, sometimes to the detriment of achieving the service objectives it is intended to advance.