Source: John G. Kilgour, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, August 5, 2020
From the abstract:
This article examines the funding of public pension plans through 2019. Particular attention is paid to the impact of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board’s Standard No. 68. It addressed (1) discount rates, (2) amortization periods, (3) asset valuation and smoothing, and (4) the actuarial cost method used. The combined effect of these measures has been to increase the amount of public pension underfunding significantly. The actuarial funded ratio of the 126 plans in the Public Plans Database went from 101.9 in 2001 to 71.9 in 2019, on the eve of the COVID-19 recession. It will no doubt continue to worsen in the years ahead. The extent of that likely worsening is also explored.
Source: Salomon Alcocer Guajardo, Compensation & Benefits Review, OnlineFirst, August 3, 2020
From the abstract:
This study assesses whether the theoretical compensation framework used to explain differences in public sector pay among full-time federal and state employees may also explain differences in pay at a local government level. In doing so, this study uses ordinary least squares (OLS) regression to test the application of the theoretical framework to a specific local government. Robust and quantile regression models are used subsequently to validate the findings obtained by the OLS model. The findings reveal that the covariates used to explain differences in compensation among full-time federal and state employees have similar effects at a local governmental level. While the OLS statistical model explains 26% (R2 = .26) of the variance, the robust regression model explains 39% (R2 = .39) of the variance. The percentage of variation explained by the quantile statistical models ranges from 14% (pseudo-R2 = .14) to 50% (pseudo-R2 = .50).
Source: Joseph Popcun, Rockefeller Institute of Government blog, September 24, 2020
On September 10, 2020, the Rockefeller Institute of Government hosted a webinar with senior leaders from state and local government who reflected on the management challenges and opportunities that arose during the response to—and ongoing recovery from—the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The goal of the conversation was to understand how the public sector rapidly adopted new policies and adapted operations to meet new demands, particularly in support of a workforce that was able to work remotely to deliver essential services to constituents virtually. Based on their experiences over the past six months, panelists informed the audience of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers about dramatic changes to the public sector landscape—changes that may be features of the “new normal” for months and years to come.
This post explores some of the key themes that the panelists shared about how government was, and can continue to be, reimagined to ensure accessibility and continuity of services, as well as to attract and retain a workforce that makes government work for the people. The panelists discussed the “nuts and bolts” of how specific agencies devised new management approaches, leveraged remote work options, deployed public health and safety precautions for essential in-person work, and identified ways to improve resiliency and ensure continuity of their operations. These lessons are an invaluable resource to state and local governments throughout the United States as they continue to confront the challenges of COVID-19 and face a potential resurgence of viral transmission within their communities.
Source: Laura D. Quinby, Geoffrey T. Sanzenbacher, State and Local Government Review, OnlineFirst, Published August 7, 2020
From the abstract:
Many state and local governments have responded to financial challenges facing their pension systems by cutting benefits or by shifting costs to employees. Will these changes make it harder for state and local governments to recruit highly skilled workers? This study explores this question by linking individual-level data from the Current Population Survey on worker transitions between the private and public sectors to measures of state and local pension generosity from the Public Plans Database. The results suggest that state and local employers with relatively generous pensions are better able to recruit high-wage workers from the private sector, but that this advantage is lost as workers are asked to contribute more from current paychecks to prefund those benefits. The findings help inform an ongoing debate over the role that state and local pensions play in shaping the public workforce.
Source: Rob Roque and Elizabeth Fu, Government Finance Review, Vol. 30 no. 3, June 2020
While some state and local governments have allowed employees to work remotely for years, many are now being thrust into a remote work environment as a result of COVID-19 response. Employees who are used to easy access to physical resources are now faced with make-shift operations at home. These rapid transitions to remote work are proving their own challenges to public sector operations and technology requirements.
The following are key considerations for governments when supporting remote workers. Items were selected based on general public sector requirements. Consider your organization’s unique situations to establish a complete list of your own.
Source: Rachel Augustine Potter, Craig Volden, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Advance Articles, August 5, 2020
From the abstract:
Although there are descriptive and substantive benefits associated with women serving in leadership posts in the bureaucracy, we ask whether there is a policy benefit associated with women’s leadership. Simply put, is there a policy premium to having women as bureaucratic leaders? We focus on agency rulemaking, a policymaking activity conducted by nearly all federal agencies. Across three presidential administrations, we find no evidence of an across-the-board premium associated with women’s leadership. However, our results are consistent with a conditional policy premium—wherein women leaders are particularly effective in advancing ambitious rules and in shepherding rules through to finalization—in agencies that have a working environment that is supportive of women and, to some extent, in agencies that focus on women’s issues. One key implication is that, rather than working to tear down “glass walls,” reformers would be better served by improving the workplace climate for women within agencies.
Source: Ann Hodges, American Constitution Society, ACS Issue Brief, March 2020
From the summary:
With the Supreme Court having overruled precedent and declared public sector “fair share” fees unconstitutional in Janus v. AFSCME, anti-union forces now have a new target: repayment of the fees paid to unions prior to the 2018 decision. Arguing that Janus should be retroactive, these advocates are seeking “millions of dollars from public sector unions, money collected in compliance with existing laws and already spent on representing employees.”
In a new ACS Issue Brief, Ann Hodges, Professor Emerita at the University of Richmond School of Law, explains the history of these restitution claims and why they are legally dubious. Hodges also questions whether “the employee plaintiffs in these cases [are] acting out of moral conviction and righteous motives or [if] they [are] being used by powerful interests to defeat the efforts of working people to join together collectively to combat the power of wealthy individuals and corporate actors.”
Source: Dan Doonan, Maryna Kollar, Nathan Chobo, Tyler Bond, National Institute on Retirement Security, March 2020
From the summary:
As many small towns and rural communities across America face shrinking populations and slowing economic growth, a new report finds that one positive economic contributor to these areas is the flow of benefit dollars from public pension plans. In 2018, public pension benefit dollars represented between one and three percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on average among the 1,401 counties in 19 states studied.
These findings are detailed in a new study, Fortifying Main Street: The Economic Benefit of Public Pension Dollars in Small Towns and Rural America.
This new report finds that public pension benefit dollars also account for significant amounts of total personal income in counties across the nineteen states studied. For all 1,401 counties in this study, pension benefit dollars represent an average of 1.37 percent of total personal income, while some counties experience more than six percent of total personal income derived from pension dollars.
The report’s key findings are as follows:
- Public pension benefit dollars represent between one and three percent of GDP on average in the 1,401 counties studied.
- Rural counties and counties with state capitals have the highest percentages of populations receiving public pension benefits.
- Small town counties experience a greater relative impact both in terms of GDP and total personal income from public pension benefit dollars than rural or metropolitan counties.
- Rural counties experience more of an impact in terms of personal income than metropolitan counties, whereas metropolitan counties experience more of an impact in terms of GDP than rural counties.
- Counties with state capitals are outliers from other metropolitan counties, likely because there is a greater density of public employees in these counties, most of whom remain in these counties in retirement.
- On average, rural counties have lost population while small town counties and metropolitan counties have gained population in the period between 2000 and 2018, but the connection between population change and the relative impact of public pension benefit dollars is weak.
Source: Kelly Kenneally, Tyler Bond, National Institute on Retirement Security (NRIS), February 2020
From the summary:
A new issue brief finds that Millennials working in state and local government are satisfied with their jobs and intend to stay with their employers so long as their benefits are not cut.
Millennial State & Local Government Employee Views on Their Jobs, Compensation & Retirement provides a deeper analysis of NIRS’ November 2019 opinion research report, and it drills down to examine the views of Millennials working in state and local government.
This nationwide poll finds that 84 percent of Millennials working in state and local government say they are satisfied with their job. This high job satisfaction comes despite sentiment that they could earn a higher salary in the private sector. Most Millennials in state and local government (80 percent) believe they could earn a higher salary working in the private sector, and only about one on four see their salary as very competitive.
The research also finds that state and local Millennial employees (85 percent) say that they plan to stay in their job until they retire or can no longer work. But, Millennials’ job loyalty would alter if their benefits were changed. Some 78 percent say their healthcare benefits is one reason they chose a position in the public sector, and 77 percent say they would be more likely to leave their job if this benefit were cut. A high number of these Millennials (84 percent) say that a pension benefit is the reason they stay in a state and local government job. These Millennials say that cutting their pension benefits would make them more likely to leave their state or local government job (71 percent).
Source: Mike Ramsey, SHRM, All Things Work, February 15, 2020
Only a few years ago, applying for a job with the Pennsylvania state government could be a daunting process. Posted jobs had vague, bureaucratic titles like “Administrative Officer 1.” Applicants had to take written exams at a testing center. Some waited months for a civil service commission to respond by mail before they could interview. Many had moved on by then. …. Things changed in early 2019, after state lawmakers agreed to streamline the 1940s-era system. Now, Walsh’s agency oversees a centralized website, where job seekers apply for positions that are more clearly defined. Testing and scoring is folded into the online application process, which administrators track closely. ….