Category Archives: Public Administration

Does a Partnership Need Partners? Assessing Partnerships for Critical Infrastructure Protection

Source: Chris Koski, American Review of Public Administration, Published online before print July 22, 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has used a partnership planning model of implementation to address the protection of critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR). The partnership relies upon existing regulators and operators to secure CIKR with little ability of DHS to compel action. Instead, the Department of Homeland Security acts to define and draw attention to tasks related critical infrastructure protection. This article analyzes Government Accountability Office reports to characterize variations in success of the partnership by assessing the extent to which DHS has addressed key components of partnership planning: creating a structure that encourages collaboration, establishing trust across partners, monitoring partners’ performance, attending to differences in partners’ organizational culture, identifying and leveraging existing relationships among partners, and instilling a sense of a common mission in the partnership. The findings underscore the limitations of partnership approaches in addressing complex problems that lack strong leadership and clear policy goals.

When do I use cooperative purchasing? Experts weigh in on when to co-op

Source: NIGP contributors, American City and County, July 8, 2013

Cooperative procurement is a proven, effective model for saving taxpayer dollars and a viable alternative to conventional, independent procurement processes. However, cooperative solutions are used to meet specific needs, have limitations and may not be appropriate in every circumstance.

Also, the buyer must ensure cooperative solutions are employed consistent with local legislation, competitive requirements and using the broadest possible participation of all vendor types….

Assessing the Effects of Organizational Resources on Public Agency Performance: Evidence from the US Federal Government

Source: Soo-Young Lee and Andrew B. Whitford, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Volume 23, Issue 3, July 2013
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
We assess the usefulness of a theory of organizations, the Resource-Based View, for the study of public agencies. We examine the differential impacts of an array of organizational resources (administrative, human, financial, physical, political, and reputation resources) on a core measure of federal agency effectiveness. Our analysis shows that certain types of resources have positive impacts on agency effectiveness, such as administrative (number of members in top governing structure), personnel (the level of professionalization of its employees), financial (spending authority from offsetting collections), and political (presidential attention and the agency’s public reputation), although certain other resources have negative impacts. Our study shows that strategic knowledge about resources can enhance understanding of agency performance.

GovCloud: The future of government work

Source: Charlie Tierney, Steve Cottle, Katie Jorgensen, Deloitte, 2012

From the summary:
The way we work is changing. While government work is becoming increasingly complex, the public sector workforce structure, designed for the clerks of the 1950s, remains relatively unchanged. Moreover, when changes are made, they tend to be reactive, creating new, permanent structures that look a lot like the old ones. Given the well-documented budgetary pressures and burgeoning debt in countries around the globe, the status quo of simply adding layers of government agencies is unsustainable.

How, then, can governments change to meet future work trends? Creating an adaptable government workforce would require providing an unprecedented degree of flexibility. To accomplish this, we could draw from a game-changing concept in the technology world: cloud computing. Major organizations and small startups alike increase their flexibility by sharing storage space, information, and resources in a “cloud”. Why not move beyond computing and apply the cloud model to the workforce? A cloud-based government workforce, or GovCloud, could comprise employees who undertake creative, problem-focused work. Rather than existing in any single agency, these workers could reside in the cloud, making them truly government-wide employees. Cloud teams could be directed by thinner agencies than those that exist today. Agencies and cloud teams could be supported by government-wide shared services that prevent the establishment of new, permanent structures by assisting with ongoing, routine work.

This report details trends in work and technology that offer significant opportunities for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the government workforce. It outlines the GovCloud model and includes a tool to determine cloud eligibility as well as some future scenarios illustrating the cloud in action. Learn how GovCloud can change the face of public sector work, allowing governments to move beyond the workforce structure of yesterday in order to confront the challenges of tomorrow.

Reconsidering the Black-White Disparity in Federal Performance Ratings

Source: Gregory W. Baxter, Public Personnel Management, Volume 41 No. 2, Summer 2012
(subscription required) (scroll down)

The Office of Personnel Management and Merit Systems Protection Board attribute race disparities in federal employee performance ratings to rate bias. Those claims ignore research findings, particularly meta-analysis, consistently showing Black workers exhibiting worse absenteeism and other Organizational Delinquency Behaviors (ODB). Research also consistently shows blacks scoring lower than others on objective measures of job knowledge, work quantity and quality, and on work sample tests.

Research on rater race effects does not support claims that White supervisors rate Whites higher and Black supervisors rate Blacks higher. Generally, all raters rate Whites higher and Blacks lower, as predicted by the data on objective performance and ODB. Consistently, the Black-White ratings gap is narrower when raters’ subjective ratings substitute for or are combined with, objective performance measures.

Finally, the paper proposes a practical stepwise approach for applying recent research findings to allegations of rater racial bias in federal and other public agencies.

Cities Aim to Slash 311 Costs Without Affecting Services

Source: Justine Brown, Government Technology, May 31, 2012

…But with the recession squeezing city budgets, all expenses are under scrutiny. And 311 systems, despite their popularity with both city managers and constituents, are no exception. Over the past couple of years, the costs of 311 calls and 311 call centers have received a closer look, and some of the results have been surprising….

…311 of the Future – Three Trends Worth Watching

As technology evolves, new possibilities arise for using 311 systems in more sophisticated, intelligent ways. Here are three trends 311 vendors see developing today and in the future….
1. Mobile Technologies and Social Media
2. Enterprise Approach
3. Integrated 311 and 911
See also:
A Work in Progress: Philadelphia’s 311 System After One Year
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts, March 2010

Enactment and Implementation of the National Security Personnel System: Policy Made and Policy Unmade

Source: Douglas A. Brook and Cynthia L. King, Public Administration Review, Volume 71, Issue 6, November/December 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This case study reviews the enactment and implementation of the National Security Personnel System (NSPS) in the U.S. Department of Defense. Proponents of reform seized the opportunity to enact reform in the aftermath of 9/11, basing their arguments on national security concerns. However, the policy-making process did not produce a consensus for reform among key stakeholders in the personnel management policy community. Instead, the NSPS angered and alienated the Office of Personnel Management, the public employee unions, and a number of congressional Democrats. Implementation of the NSPS became problematic as Defense Department officials attempted to move quickly and independently to get the new system online, eventually forcing the department to put the system on hold. In the end, Congress imposed limits on its implementation, advocates for the system disappeared, and a new president supported the repeal of NSPS. This case provides useful insights into the formulation of future strategies for personnel management reform.

Greening Human Resources: A Survey of City-Level Initiatives

Source: Nandhini Rangarajan and Dianne Rahm, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 31 no. 3, September 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
How have environmental initiatives and “going green” permeated the human resources realm? This article, through a nationwide survey, examines the extent to which cities have incorporated environmentally friendly human resource practices. Results reveal that income, education, environmental awareness and presence of preexisting successful environmental programs have an impact on technical and strategic human resource practices in U.S. cities. This article discusses the implications for public administration.

Budgeting for Brain Drain

Source: Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, IBM Center for the Business of Government, October 5th, 2011

…In an ideal world, we believe, this would be a time when governmental entities would be able to devote more energy than ever to the use of analysis to make sure that the limited dollars they have to spend are used most effectively and efficiently. Sadly, our ideal world is far from the one any of us live in. In fact, states and cities seem to be moving in precisely the opposite direction. From coast to coast, the very people who have historically been responsible for this kind of thinking are finding themselves out of work. And it’s far more difficult to run a smarter government if you cut out its brains one budgetary shovelful at a time….

…At its peak in 2002, the California Research Bureau (CRB) had more than 40 staffers. Now it has 16….Just north, in Washington State, the state government has been cutting back funding for its well-respected auditor’s office…Go to just about anyplace that compiles studies of local and state performance or cost-effectiveness, or other reports on government activities and you’ll see the dropoff in production.