Category Archives: Public Sector

Charter Schools and Collective Bargaining: Compatible Marriage or Illegitimate Relationship?

Source: Martin H. Malin and Charles Kerchner, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 30 no. 3, Summer 2007

From the abstract:
The rapid increase in charter schools has been fueled by the view that traditional public schools have failed because of their monopoly on public education. Charter schools, freed from the bureaucratic regulation that dominates traditional public schools, are viewed as agents of change that will shock traditional public schools out of their complacency. Among the features of the failed status quo are teacher tenure, uniform salary grids and strict work rules, matters that teacher unions hold dear. Yet unions have begun organizing teachers in charter schools. This development prompts the question whether unionization and charter schools are compatible.

Federal Funding for Public Health Preparedness: Implications and Ongoing Issues for Local Health Departments

Source: National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), August 2007

From http://www.naccho.org/press/releases/pr2007_09_10.cfm:
Federal funding received by local health departments for all-hazards emergency preparedness fell 20 percent last year, according to a new report by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The report says that continued cuts in funding provided through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) threaten important, hard-won advances made in recent years in response planning to natural disasters, bio-terrorism events, emerging infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies.
See also:
National Preparedness Month

Designing Public-Sector Pensions for the 21st Century: A Risk-Managed Approach

Source: Roderick B. Crane, Michael Heller, Paul Yakoboski, TIAA-CREF Institute, May 2007

From the summary:
This paper examines many of the sometimes-controversial issues raised in discussions regarding the design and funding of retirement plans for public employees. However, it does so in a different way. By focusing on development of appropriate benefits and funding policies and the use of risk management principles, we hope to provide public sector policy makers a better way to develop sound and sustainable retirement benefit policies for state and local governments and their employees based on our organization’s nearly 90 years of experience providing retirement security to individuals working in the non-profit sector.

CIGNA/ICMA Local Government Employee Health Insurance Survey

Source: CIGNA/ICMA, March 2007

From the summary:
In 2006, ICMA conducted a survey of local governments to determine the goals, needs, and concerns they have regarding their employee health insurance plans. CIGNA sponsored the survey as part of its ongoing commitment to provide assistance to local governments on employee health care issues. The survey was fielded as one of the initiatives of the ICMA Health Care Advisory Group, which was launched in 2006 to help local government managers assess and address what has become, for many, one of the biggest costs in their budget. More than 2,200 local governments responded to the survey. The following is a summary of the survey results.

Public Sector Employment: The Current Situation

Source: Stuart Greenfield, Center for State and Local Government Excellence, 2007

There are about 84 million baby boomers — defined to be those aged 42 to 61 in 2006 — who account for more than 30 percent of the U.S. population and more than 45 percent of total nonfarm employment last year. As the cutting edge of the baby boom generation begins their seventh decade, this aging trend will have an impact on the general workforce and an even more pronounced impact on the public sector workforce.

State Employee Salaries Still Trail Private Sector Despite Slight Increase

Source: American City and County, September 4, 2007

State employees’ salaries rose slightly from 2006 to 2007, but they still lag behind what the private sector pays for the same jobs, according a report by the Washington-based American Federation of Teacher’s (AFT) Public Employees division. The median increase of 5.7 percent for the 45 jobs included in the “2007 AFT Public Employees Compensation Survey” is the highest increase in the past five years.

Recruiting and Staffing in the Public Sector: Results from the IPMA-HR Research Series Summer 2007

Source: IPMA-HR, EquaTerra, 3006_082007

From the summary:
Two of the most critical activities within the human resources (HR) domain are recruiting and staffing. This involves identifying and attracting the right people to fill positions, ranging from upper management and key decision-maker roles to entry-level personnel. Finding the right person for each position and doing so in a cost-effective and timely manner is a challenge for any organization, but it is becoming especially difficult for public sector entities. This IPMA-HR research study sought to understand what public sector HR organizations do to identify and attract qualified applicants, what methods and strategies work well, and what difficulties organizations encounter in these efforts. The white paper is available here.

Recognizing the Emotion Work of Public Service

Source: Meredit Newman, Mary Guy, and Sharon Mastracci, Public Management, Vol. 89 no. 6, July 2007
(subscription required)

Police officer, social service counselor, 911 call taker, caseworker, prison guard, receptionist, public health nurse, counter clerk, and public schoolteacher: What do all these public service jobs have in common? They all require that a relationship be developed between the service provider and citizen. This requires artful affect and is called emotional labor. Our research into the work experiences of local government workers makes it clear that emotion work is at the heart of service transactions and can be described as “real work.” Many, if not most, public service jobs require interpersonal contact that is either face to face or voice to voice. Those who staff the counter at the tax collector’s office are expected to greet the 100th citizen of the day with the same sincerity as they greeted the first. Those who staff the phone lines for the manager’s office are expected to be “nicer than nice.” Caseworkers must care about strangers, and inspectors who work for planning and zoning departments are required to treat each aggravated homeowner with fairness and courtesy. In the aftermath of a hurricane, first responders must address not only physical disaster but emotionally traumatized citizens. Police officers and prison guards will tell you that they engage in emotion work every day, but at the other extreme. Rather than being nurturing and gentle, their jobs require them to wear a “game face,” to act tougher than they actually feel, and to engage in verbal judo with lawbreakers. This work is relational in nature and is called emotional labor. Such work “greases the wheels” so that people cooperate, stay on task, and work well together. It is essential for job completion. In fact, such skills are prerequisites for quality public service.

The Supreme Court and the Deconstitutionalization of the Freedom of Speech Rights of Public Employees

Source: Robert Roberts, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Vol. 27, No. 2, June 2007
(subscription required)

In Garcetti v. Ceballos (2006), the United States Supreme Court held that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution does not prohibit a public employer from disciplining a public employee for the contents of an official memorandum made in the course of the performance of official duties, even if a federal court finds that the contents of the memorandum involved a matter of “public concern.” This article argues that the Garcetti decision modifies the Pickering v. Board of Education (1968) and Connick v. Myers (1983) two-part test by requiring federal courts to first determine whether or not the public official made a communication in the course of the performance of official duties. The article also argues that it remains to be seen whether the Garcetti decision will have a significant impact on the willingness of public employees to make use of official channels to raise legitimate concerns over actions taken or not taken by their organizations.

Perspectives 2007: iGovernment — Empowering citizens through distributed technology

Source: Perspectives 2007, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, June 2007

Summary

The Global Public Sector annual report, “Perspectives 2007,” outlines the incredibly diverse needs of 21st century citizens and the challenges facing governments today. At every level of government, from basic infrastructure to technological advancement, constituents are demanding public service evolution. This report observes the ever-changing obstacles of governments at the many different levels where they touch citizens’ lives and offers examples of lessons learned executing solutions to these challenges.

From providing food and water, to securing trade and encouraging participation in the global community, governments are relying more and more on the input of citizens. By taking technological advancements and innovation in the private sector and coupling it with a more distributive approach, governments have an opportunity to respond to the changing demands of the population.