Category Archives: Public Sector

Going Green in Public Organizations: Linking Organizational Commitment and Public Service Motives to Public Employees’ Workplace Eco-Initiatives

Source: Justin M. Stritch, Robert K. Christensen, The American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 46 no. 3, May 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Public servants are expected to be good stewards of resources, including the energy and environmental resources consumed in a public organization’s day-to-day operations. Many government organizations have enacted policies to mitigate the environmental impact of their operations. Even in the absence of formal policies, however, individual public employees might engage in a number of discretionary, pro-environmental behaviors known as eco-initiatives. What motivational factors cause a public employee to exhibit eco-initiative? To answer this question, we draw on a theoretical framework based on connectedness to nature, organizational commitment, public service motivation (PSM), and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB). We use employee-level data from a large city in the southeast United States to examine employee participation in individual eco-initiatives. We contextualize these discretionary initiatives as interesting forms of OCB, which are directed toward the environment (OCB-E). Our findings suggest that connectedness to nature, organizational commitment, and PSM are significant predictors of eco-initiative in the public workplace. In addition, we find that PSM conditions the impact of organizational commitment on eco-initiatives for certain types of employees. We conclude with a discussion that underscores the importance of individual employee motivation in discretionary efforts that advance OCB-E and effective public stewardship generally.

The Impact of Decoupling of Telework on Job Satisfaction in U.S. Federal Agencies – Does Gender Matter?

Source: Kwang Bin Bae, Dohyeong Kim, The American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 46 no. 3, May 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study analyzes the effects of decoupling of telework on job satisfaction using the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The research divides telework programs for public employees by two criteria: (a) whether or not federal agencies have officially adopted the program, and (b) whether or not public employees actually participate in the program. We find that both organizational adoption and employee participation in telework have a positive relationship with job satisfaction, and these results support the social exchange theory. We also observe that the effects of decoupling of telework on job satisfaction are more significant for female public employees than for male public employees. The results imply that female employees have the lowest levels of job satisfaction when agencies officially adopt telework but employees cannot utilize the program. However, male employees have the lowest levels of job satisfaction when they are unable to utilize a nonexistent telework program.

Illinois HB 580: The Political Battle Over Interest Arbitration

Source: Kelsey Bleiweiss, On Labor blog, March 23, 2016

When it comes to labor news in Illinois, most attention is on the Chicago Teachers Union and its likely strike in April. But HB 580, a labor bill pending in Illinois, merits attention as well, as it has ignited fierce debate in the state for over a year. Though the future of the bill is uncertain, it raises important questions about public sector unions that have little choice but to engage with partisan politics.

Private and Public-Sector Retirement Plan Trends

Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute, EBRI Databook on Employee Benefits, Chapter 5, Updated October 2015

Tables include:
• Percentage of Employees Participating in Retirement and Capital Accumulation Plans, by Type of Plan: Medium and Large Private Establishments, 1980-2003
• Percentage of Employees Participating in Retirement and Capital Accumulation Plans, by Type of Plan: Medium and Large Private Establishments, 2004-2015
• Percentage of Employees Participating in Retirement and Capital Accumulation Plans, by Type of Plan: Small Private Establishments, 1990-2015
• Percentage of Employees Participating in Retirement and Capital Accumulation Plans, by Type of Plan: State and Local Governments, 1987-2015
• Summary of Private-Sector Qualified Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans and Participants, Selected Years 1975–1990
• Summary of Private-Sector Qualified Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans and Participants, Selected Years 1991-2006
• Summary of Private-Sector Qualified Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Plans and Participants, Selected Years 2007-2013

Data-sets used in this chapter:
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Compensation Survey – Tables 10.1a-d The National Compensation Survey (NCS) covers the incidence and de tailed provisions of selected employee benefit plans in private establishments. The data are presented as the percent of employees who have access to or participate in certain benefits, or as average benefit pro visions. Before 1999, data from the Employee Benefit Survey were released in three separate publications covering medium and large private establishments (establishments with 100 or more employees), small private establishments (establishments with 99 or fewer employees), and stat e and local governments. Starting with the 1999 data, BLS began publishing data for all private industry. For further information on the data collection, survey method ology, and data usage please go to the following web site: in the section general overview.

U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefit Security Administration, Tabulations off the Form 5500 – Tables 5.2. In compliance with Title I of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) all private-sector plan sponsors must file a Form 5500 with the IRS. These forms contain extensive financial, participant, and actuarial data. Such plans may be defined benefit or define d contribution. They generally cover private wage and salary employees and are sponsored either by employers or jointly by employers and unions.

Former Presidents: Pensions, Office Allowances, and Other Federal Benefits

Source: Wendy Ginsberg, Daniel J. Richardson Congressional Research Service, CRS Report, RL34631, March 16, 2016

…. This report provides a legislative and cultural history of the Former Presidents Act. It details the benefits provided to former Presidents and their costs. Congress has the authority to reduce, increase, or maintain the pension and benefits provided to former Presidents of the United States. This report considers the potential effects of maintaining the FPA or amending the FPA in ways that might reduce or otherwise modify a former President’s benefits. ….

State and Local Fiscal Facts: 2016

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), The Council of State Governments (CSG), National Association of Counties (NACo), National League of Cities (NLC), U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), International City/County Management Association (ICMA), National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), National Association of State Auditors Comptrollers and Treasurers (NASACT), Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA), National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA), 2016

State and Local Finances · Municipal Bonds · State and Local Pensions

In the past few years, state and local government revenues have been slowly improving. While challenges remain, officials have been taking steps to replenish rainy day funds and address long-term structural imbalances.

How Big a Burden are State and Local OPEB Benefits?

Source: Alicia H. Munnell, Jean-Pierre Aubry, and Caroline V. Crawford, Center for State and Local Government Excellence, Issue Brief, March 2016

This brief attempts to answer the question: How big of a burden are OPEB benefits to state and local governments?
Key findings:
• Aggregate unfunded OPEB liabilities are an estimated $862 billion – nearly two thirds of which is held at the local level;
• These unfunded liabilities are equivalent to 28 percent of the unfunded liabilities of pensions when pension liabilities are calculated with an interest rate comparable to OPEBs; and
• While OPEB liabilities are large, several factors – such as sponsors’ flexibility to scale back benefits – limit their potential drain on resources.

Telling the Public Pension Story with Hard Data

Source: Elizabeth K. Kellar, Amber Snowden, Government Finance Review, February 2016

Public pensions have been a hot topic in the media and among state and local policymakers. News stories often depict pension funding in dire terms. But what are the facts? And how does the funded status of your government’s pension plan compare with others? Now it’s easy to find out with the Public Plans Database (PPD), a free, publicly accessible database of financial, actuarial, and other plan data for 150 of the nation’s largest local and state public pension plans…..

Public Pension Plan Investment Return Assumptions

Source: National Association of State Retirement Administrators (NASRA), Issue Brief, February 2016

From the introduction:
As of September 30, 2015, state and local government retirement systems held assets of $3.56 trillion. These assets are held in trust and invested to pre-fund the cost of pension benefits. The investment return on these assets matters, as investment earnings account for a majority of public pension financing. A shortfall in long-term expected investment earnings must be made up by higher contributions or reduced benefits.

Funding a pension benefit requires the use of projections, known as actuarial assumptions, about future events. Actuarial assumptions fall into one of two broad categories: demographic and economic. Demographic assumptions are those pertaining to a pension plan’s membership, such as changes in the number of working and retired plan participants; when participants will retire, and how long they’ll live after they retire. Economic assumptions pertain to such factors as the rate of wage growth and the future expected investment return on the fund’s assets.

As with other actuarial assumptions, projecting public pension fund investment returns requires a focus on the long-term. This brief discusses how investment return assumptions are established and evaluated, and compares these assumptions with public funds’ actual investment experience.

Who Values Diversity? Comparing the Effect of Manager Gender Across the Public, Private, and Nonprofit Sectors

Source: Morgen Johansen, Ling Zhu, American Review of Public Administration, Published online before print February 26, 2016
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Researchers have focused on the role of managerial gender on attitudes toward diversity issues mainly in either the public or private sector, but there is little research that compares managerial attitudes on diversity across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. This article identifies important distinctions among the sectors that may influence gender differences in managerial priority placed on diversity. Using a national survey of nearly 1,000 top-level managers in public, private, and nonprofit hospitals in the United States, we analyze how managerial gender combined with cross-sector differences shape managerial priority on diversity. We find female managers place a higher priority on diversity than their male counterparts in nonprofit and private organizations compared with managers in public organizations. The differing effects of managerial gender on the priority placed on diversity are shaped by the organizational contexts of the three sectors. This research provides systematic evidence of sector differences in the patterns of managerial priorities regarding diversity.