Hot Off the Presses

Recent Work

Over the course of the year,  Barrett and Greene produce somewhere between 42 and 50 pieces of journalistic, published work. Most are columns or articles; some are reports, written for such organizations as The Volcker Alliance and the IBM Center for the Business of Government. Following are the most recent:

 

 

Just Published
 

The Future of Government Jobs series, Route Fifty, by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, three columns, published on October 31, November 1 and November 2, 2022

The Brave New Frontier of Public Sector Privacy (no online link yet), Government Finance Review, by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, October, 2022 (see page 72)

Budget Resources (updated), The Volcker Alliance, by Katherine Barrett and Ricard Greene, September 2022

NEW REPORT: Use of Data in Public Sector Human Resources and Workforce Management:  Solutions and Challenges, UKG, by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, July 26, 2022

More Columns from Route Fifty

Building a More Diverse Public Sector Hiring Pipeline, October 11, 2022

Local governments are rethinking how they go about connecting with job candidates. “It’s just not enough to post a position and then say we have no qualified diverse talent,” says one official.

 

How to Retain Citizen's Trust After a Financial Scandal, July 25, 2022

 

Just getting rid of the people involved isn't enough. A complex task follows for local leaders to restore faith in the government.

 

How Cities and Counties Are Thinking Big with their ARPA Plans, , July 5, 2022

 

Across the country, some local governments are using federal aid from the American Rescue Plan to launch "transformational" projects in areas like affordable housing, public safety and ridding homes of lead—things that will endure long after the money is spent.

Why Job Applicants are Frustrated by the State and Local Government Hiring Process, June 28, 2022.

 

New survey findings reveal that many workers are interested in public sector jobs, but get bogged down in the application phase.

 

The ‘Impossible’ Federal Standard that States Can’t Meet as They Work to Assist Low-Income Families, June 13, 2022
 

Critics say a longstanding performance metric for work participation that is part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program is faulty and should be reformed.
 

A State Tries to Attract Public Workers Who Have Resume Gaps, May 24, 2022


In Utah, a first-of-its kind program provides training and mentorship for people taking government jobs after time away from the workforce.


How to Recruit and Manage Short-Term Workers,  May 17, 2022

State and local governments have greater reliance on temporary staff, but challenges abound. There are new ways to make these arrangements work.

 

5 Ways to Overcome the Hiring and Retention Crisis Without Raising Pay, April 18, 2022


Higher salaries alone are unlikely to be a cure-all for public sector workforce shortages. Some states and localities are experimenting with other approaches for attracting and keeping employees.


Successful Strategies for Attracting and Retaining Public Employees, March 31, 2022

Some department vacancies are 20% to 30%, but governments are making headway filling positions and keeping workers with sign-on bonuses and big hourly wage hikes.

Collaboration Provides Effective Approach to State's Human Services, March 16, 2022

Oklahoma is on the cutting edge of a national trend bringing foundations, nonprofits and the Department of Human Services together to help residents in need.

Local Leaders Cannot Hide from Technology, February 25, 2022

The National Association of Counties is launching a new effort to help public sector officials better understand technology so they can make informed decisions about cybersecurity, as well as other topics such as budgeting and staffing.

How Cities and Counties are Dumping Abandoned Properties, February 14, 2022

Vacant building issues include unpaid property taxes, fires, and crime, but localities are making some progress reigning them in. 

Governments Turning to Data to Find Solutions to Equity Issues, January 31, 2022

It’s easy for leaders to pronounce that they’re going to make a fairer state or locality. Here's how several states, counties and cities are utilizing information to achieve their goals.

The Public Sector Turnover Crisis,  January 17, 2022

Rising turnover in state and local government has compounded problems of staff shortages that lead to mandatory overtime, employee burnout and compromised service delivery.

How to Effectively Manage the Growing Multigenerational Workforce, December 20, 2021 

Baby boomers are becoming a smaller part of government staffs. An expert provides guidance on developing and retaining generations X, Y and Z.

A Pandemic Silver Lining: Public Meetings Have Become More Public, December 14, 2021

Covid-19 forced governments to have all virtual gatherings. There are disadvantages, government officials say, but a hybrid meeting model may be here to stay.

Grappling with the Public Sector Workforce Shortage Crush, November 29, 2021

When positions aren't appealing to applicants, sometimes the jobs themselves need to be changed.

The Government Job Application Drop-off is 'Snowballing', November 13, 2021

The data is alarming: Between fiscal 2019 and 2021, applications per job dropped 32% in states and localities, data shows. But there are strategies to counteract the trend.

Leveraging State and Local Buying Power to Improve Resilience and Accountability, October 25, 2021

Carefully spent, purchasing dollars can be one of the most important tools to help the nation combat its environmental concerns.

How the Pandemic can Help the Government Prepare for Future Crises, October 7, 2021

A new report provides a dozen lessons learned from Covid-19 that can help governments at all levels deal with diseases and natural disasters to come. 

The Toll of Compassion Fatigue on Government Employees, September 28, 2021

Traumas can be contagious. When government workers are exposed to endless stories of pain, they can develop mental health and other problems.

'Public Health Should be 'Pivotal' Part of Emergency Response, September 13, 2021

Could reform of emergency call systems play an important role in improving safety, as well as police-community relations? A new 911 reform initiative is betting it could."

A Transparent Look at How Governments Are Spending the $350B in ARPA Funds, August 30, 2021

On Aug. 31, states and large localities had to provide reports on how they are allocating their federal funds. They also have to post them on transparency websites, which can help them learn from one another and coordinate spending plans.

The Public Sector Retirement Explosion, August 24, 2021

For years, human resources officials have worried about an alarming exodus of government retirees. Now it's here -- and it's because of Covid-19.

How Local Governments Can Prevent Building Disasters, August 9, 2021

Some governments are beginning to take steps to prevent the kind of tragedy that took the lives of nearly 100 people in a Surfside, Florida condominium collapse in June.

Legislators and Governors Battle Over Who Spends the Rescue Act Money, July 21, 2021

Power struggles between the executive and legislative branches are nothing new, but they are particularly vigorous with $350 billion in federal dollars at stake.

A Five Step Guide to Spending the American Rescue Plan Money, July 6, 2021

States and localities have an enormous opportunity to create a better future if they spend the federal rescue funds wisely. Here's how to do that.

How to Fix Skyrocketing Overtime, June 22, 2021

Overtime is often a necessary cost, but to deploy it effectively officials need reliable data to track where and how it is being used, and who is using it.

Racial Biases Persist in Public Sector Hiring. What Can Be Done? May 24, 2021

A new study shows that Black candidates are at an enormous disadvantage in making it through the government hiring process. But states and local governments are finding solutions.

Getting the Bosses of Procurement to Understand its Strategic Value, May 7, 2021

State procurement departments have been front and center during the pandemic. Once the crisis wanes, focus on procurement may diminish, but officials say it needs ongoing high-level attention.

Centralizing State IT Functions Gains Momentum, April 23, 2021

Connecticut is building an information technology organization within its government, joining a number of other states consolidating people, hardware and software to reduce costs and inefficiencies.

'A Troubling Trend': Independent State Program Evaluation Under Attack, April 16, 2021

Without a vote, the legislative leadership in North Carolina closed the state’s program evaluation division. Experts say the growing power of legislative leaders presents an accelerating danger for transparent, publicly available evaluation.

What Can Parks Do When Demand Rises as Budgets Decline, March 29, 2021

Though there may be greater appreciation for the nation’s parks, many are still fighting for funding. Some states are finding solutions.

If Your State Is Struggling With the Vaccine Rollout, This Is Probably Why, March 9, 2021

Intergovernmental relations are never easy. But they’re vital when confronting the logistical nightmare of inoculating a nation.

Equity Budgeting in Cities: Directing Dollars Where They're Needed Most, February 19, 2021

A growing number of cities are turning to their budget offices to help treat historically underserved communities more fairly.

Paid Sick Leave and the Prolonged Pandemic, January 29, 2021

State HR officials are concerned that if they can't find a way to extend paid sick leave benefits, employees will start showing up to work contagious.

How Downtowns Can Rebound After the Pandemic, January 12, 2021

They have to offer more than office space.

A Burnout Crisis Hits Government, December 22, 2020

A soon-to-be-released survey reveals some surprising findings about local and state employees' struggles and how helping them feel connected to each other can reduce burnout.

How to Fairly Use Algorithms to Make Tough Decisions, December 3, 2020

More Crucial Than Ever, EMS Agencies are Short Staffed and Overworked,  November 19, 2020

Adequately staffing emergency medical services has been a problem for some time, potentially putting lives at stake. The pandemic threatens to make shortages worse.

Can Better Data Fix America's Policing Crisis? October 28, 2020

As society debates law enforcement reform, far better data is necessary to provide a roadmap for future changes.

The Draining of State Rainy Day Funds, October 14, 2020

At least ten states have already tapped their emergency reserves, even as budget experts expect the worst revenue declines caused by the coronavirus pandemic to come in the months and years ahead.

Why We Need to Pay Attention to Police Officers' Mental Health, October 9, 2020

A new study found that as police are under more scrutiny than ever, their mental health struggles remain profound.

Shrinking State and Local Government Office Space, September 9, 2020

With state and local officials searching for ways to cut budgets, many are looking to reduce how much real estate they occupy.

What Happens Next With Affordable Housing? August 20, 2020

States and local governments already haven't been investing enough to help build housing that poor families, and even middle class families, can afford. And now funding could be yet another victim of the coronavirus.

The Escalating Crisis in Police Hiring, August 6, 2020

As revenues drop and passionate debates over police mission, budget and purpose continue, cities still face the arduous task of recruiting top-notch candidates.

The Poor Performance of Performance Contracts, July 21, 2020

States and local governments have embraced "performance contracts," requiring contractors to meet certain objectives. Too often, however, they don't actually check on the success in meeting these goals. 

Can Civilian Oversight Change Police Behavior, July 9, 2020

Cities across the country are looking at creating police oversight bodies. That makes questions about their efficacy and value more important than ever.

Kansas City Employees: 'Please Don't Rush To Reopen . . .', June 17, 2020

What are public sector employee concerns about the return to work? Kansas City has a better idea than many other local governments based on multiple employee surveys.

Pandemic Aid: What Can We Learn From the 2009 Stimulus, June 10, 2020

Fiscal stability will be more attainable by paying attention to experts who helped the country out of the Great Recession.

The Hidden Crisis: Caring for Vulnerable Adults at Home During the Coronavirus, May 15, 2020

Faced with fears of contagion and shortages of personal protective equipment, home and community care workers and providers struggle to serve a vulnerable population.

'There's Never Been Anything Like This': Managing the State Employee Workforce, April 20, 2020

An interview about the challenges faced by human resource directors.

The Coronavirus Cyber Safety Challenge: 'New Opportunities for the Bad Guys', April 16, 2020

State and local governments confront multiple technology security issues as they deal with proliferating attacks and a disease-transformed work environment.

Lessons From States that Embraced Telework Before the Coronavirus, April 1, 2020

How to avoid certain pitfalls now that many -- or most -- employees must now work from home.

How Ghosting Afflicts Public Sector Recruitment, March 15, 2020

Too often that perfect candidate just disappears.

The Human Cost of Missing Data in Prisons, February 26, 2020

Nowhere is good information about operations more critical than in prisons and jails. But too often states simply lack the kind of data that holds officials accountable.
 
Do Older Taxpayers Balk at Supporting Schools? February 12, 2020


In certain places opponents to new school taxes are finding success in courting older voters.

Whistleblowing Isn't Just a Federal Issue, January 28, 2020

An interview about the first comprehensive study of state whistleblower laws and how they protect -- or don't protect -- people who report wrongdoing.

How Governments are Recruiting Young Workers, January 14, 2020

From initiatives that allow new parents to bring babies to work to upgraded facilities, state and local governments are aiming to compete with the private sector.

What Stands Between Young People and Local Government Jobs?, December 23, 2019

Many millennials or members of Generation Z are interested in meaningful work that can help improve people's lives, but they don't necessarily see government jobs in that light.
 
Too Many Drugs, Too Little Data, December 9, 2019

How the fight against drug abuse has both been hampered and helped by data collection and analysis.

The Troubling Decline in City Revenue Growth, November 24, 2019

The economy continues to grow, yet cities anticipate revenue problems. How can both be true?

The New First Responder Crisis: Not Enough Dispatchers, November 12, 2019

What can governments do to recruit and keep the "first" first responders?

When the Savings Don't Materialize, October 22, 2019

Sometimes, state and local governments don't end up seeing the savings they've hoped for. Then what happens?


Articles from Government Finance Review

 

The Increasingly Politicized World of ESG Investing, August 2022, (see page 72)

How Procurement Officials Can Help Keep the Air and Water Clean, June 2022 (see page 72)

 

Augmenting Property and Sales Taxes, Government Finance Review,  April 2022 (see page 70)

Spending Rescue Plan Money on Broadband: The Needs and the Challenges, February 2022 (see page 72)

The Growing Challenge of Producing ADA Compliant Accessible Websites, December 2021 (see page 72)

The Benefits and Challenges of Transparency Websites, October 2021 (see page 74)

Improving Procurement Practices in the Wake of the Pandemic, August 2021 (see page 90)

Data Governance: A Key to More Effective and Efficient Performance, June 2021 (see page 76)

Public Sector Working Space May Never Be the Same, April 2021 (see page 82)

Keeping Government Diversity Efforts Strong in Hard Economic Times, February 2021 (see page 76)

Keeping Nonprofits Strong, December 2020 (see page 68)

Bad Data: A Giant Challenge to Management, Budgeting and Policy, October 2020 (see page 76)

Whither Telework, Post Pandemic?  August 2020 (see page 138)

Cybersecurity -- It's All About Relationships, June 2020 (see page 90)

Letting the Citizens Help Run the Store, April 2020 (see page 74)


Articles from Government Executive

Three Pandemic Lessons for the Next Crisis, October 20, 2021, by Katherine Barrett, Richard Greene and Donald F. Kettl, October 20, 2021.

Articles from HR News

THE B&G HR REPORT: 

The B&G HR Report for July 2020 issue | Safety in Numbers: The Power of Data to Protect Public Sector Workers (available to IPMA-HR members).

THE B&G HR Report for February 2020 issue |  In Workforce Planning Data is King (available to IPMA-HR members). Reprinted in our IBM Center blog with permission from HR News. (See below)

THE B&G HR Report for October 2020 | How Local and State Governments are Meeting the Employee Benefit Challenge, HR News, October 2020


Blog Posts from the IBM Center for the Business of Government

Performance Measurement Can Help Programs. It can also hurt them,  July 11, 2022

Government Ethos Can Be Just As Important as Statutes,  March 23, 2022

 

How to Effectively Manage the Growing Multigenerational Workforce,  January 5, 2022

Getting the Bosses of Procurement to Understand its Strategic Value, May 17, 2021

Why the Phrase Best Practices Makes Us Jittery, November 12, 2020

Reducing Unreasonable Overtime with Data, August 17, 2020

Results-Driven Telework, June 4, 2020

The Perennial Siege on Performance Auditors, February 25, 2020

In Workforce Planning, Data is King, February 10, 2020

Mousetraps for flawed data, November 11, 2019

Performance Management: A View from the Front, October 17, 2019

A Hidden Corner of Local Government: Boards and Commissions, October 2, 2019


Reports Written for the Volcker Alliance

Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: The Balancing Act

50 States are graded on budget practices and transparency, February 2020

Rainy Day Fund Strategies: A Call to Action

Steps states can take to better prepare for the next recession.

Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: Preventing the Next Fiscal Crisis

50 states are graded on budget practices and transparency, December 2018.

Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: What is the Reality?

50 States are graded on budget practices and transparency, November 2017.

State Budget Sources

An annotated reference guide to state budgets, financial reports, and fiscal analyses.

Beyond the Basics

Best practices in state budget transparency

Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting

Lessons from three states: California, New Jersey and Virginia

 

Other Reports
 
Managing the Next Crisis: Twelve Principles for Managing Viral Uncertainty, by Katherine Barrett, Richard Greene and Donald F. Kettl, IBM Center for the Business of Government, , October 2021.

Employee Leave in the Public Sector: Current Challenges and Solutions. by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, UKG, 2021 

The Great Overtime Dilemma, by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, Kronos, 2020

Off to a Running State Capital Start: A Transition Guide for New Governors and Their Teams. by Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, The IBM Center for the Business of Government, 2018


Columns from Governing

Testing Period

Pilot programs don't always fly right. (The last column we wrote for Governing magazine, which stopped publication following the September issue.)

6 Tips for Piloting New Programs

Small test runs can help an entity avoid big mistakes, but there's an art to getting meaningful results.

How Breaking Down Silos in Government Can Make Things Worse

Sometimes attempts to collaborate create unforeseen problems.

Why's It So Hard to Ax Bad Government Programs

Performance data hasn't worked out the way it was intended.

Are States Taking Cybersecurity Seriously Enough?

Only one has a cabinet level official dedicated to the issue.

To Keep Public Workers, States Offer New Salaries and Benefits

Lawmakers increased wages and benefits for teachers, state workers and first responders in nearly twenty states this legislative session.

WANTED: Public Employees Who Live Where They Work

Local governments are offering employees home loans and even housing if they reside among the people they serve.

To Find More ‘Good Cops,’ A Few Cities Change Their Hiring Practices

They’re putting more emphasis on applicants’ emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.

What Happens When Evidence-Based Policymaking Meets the Real World?

Problems arise.

Are Public Employees Safe At Work?

How governments are coping with health and safety threats to their workers.

How Public Employers Are Reevaluating the Employee Review

Governments are changing the frequency of performance evaluations, who receives them and what they’re assessing.

Will the FDA Crackdown on  Imported Prescriptions Cost Local Government?

For years, hundreds of cities and counties have been saving money by letting their employees use cheaper drugs from other countries.

Performance Management Does Away With the Whip

The way governments are measuring results is becoming kinder — and more effective.

Shortage of Volunteer Firefighters Threatens Fire Departments’ Existence

Without enough volunteers to respond to emergencies, some fire departments are cutting services or even shutting down. Most are changing the way they recruit.

What Do Constituents Want? Cities Go Online to Find Out.

Local governments are using Internet surveys to better gauge residents needs.

Why It’s Easier to Find a Job in Pennsylvania

The state has made a number of key reforms to streamline its recruiting and hiring. One big change? Using plain English.

Openings for State Jobs Are Up, So Why Are Applications Down?

A new study shows the depth — and the root causes — of the public sector’s workforce problem.

Why Some Government Managers Make Less Than Their Employees

This form of pay inequity, referred to as salary inversion, can make it difficult to fill supervisory positions.

Where’s the Data? What the Government Isn’t Tracking

The amount of missing and unusable public sector data is stunning.

Amid Strikes and Shortages, Governors Prioritize State Workers’ Plight

Protesting teachers likely won’t be the only public employees who see pay raises and workplace improvements this year.

Think Federal Workers Have It Bad? It’s Worse for State and Local Employees

The government shutdown exposed the financial insecurity and stress of many public servants.

Government Watchdogs Face New Obstacles

It’s getting harder for the people who check up on government to do their job.

The Gender Disparity in Climbing Local Government’s Ladder

Women are less likely than men to aspire for and occupy top jobs. They’re also less optimistic about their chances of moving up at all.

#MeToo Elicits More Harassment Conversations, But Not Necessarily Complaints

To address sexual harassment, it needs to be reported. State employees have been hesitant to do that.

Mapping Technology Expands Its Policy Reach

Once used mostly to manage infrastructure, GIS now deals with all kinds of data.

Accounting for Oysters: The Importance of Fiscal Notes in Policymaking

As Maryland has learned, it’s crucial to know the costs of proposed legislation.

Defying Predictions, Union Membership Isn’t Dropping Post Janus

The Supreme Court’s ruling was expected to diminish union membership. But so far, many unions have actually increased their numbers. Conservative groups are working to reverse that trend in the long run.

Advice for New Governors as They Transition Into Office

For one, don’t assume the last governor’s appointees want to leave.

Why Are So Many Government Projects Late and Over Budget?

Ironically, it can happen because managers skip steps in an effort to go faster.

Who Needs a Desk? Tennessee Takes Telework to the Max

The state’s new approach to the workplace goes far beyond traditional telecommuting. It’s not only making employees and managers happier, it’s saving the state millions of dollars.

Arkansas’ Ambition Plan to Reorganize State Government

The governor wants to downsize the number of cabinet agencies by more than half — without laying people off.

How to Turn Government Data Into Clickbait

Graphic displays of data are useful only if they’re seen.

How Public Employee Benefits (Beyond Pensions and Health Care) Compare to the Private Sector’s

At a time of low unemployment, both kinds of employers are beefing up their perks.

How Much Privacy Do Public Employees Actually Have?

The digital age, new laws and recent events have created tension between government transparency and the privacy of the people who work for it.

Public Employees’ Pay, Benefits and Rights Become Campaign Issues

A year filled with teachers’ strikes and sexual harassment scandals has led candidates for governor to talk more about how they would treat their state’s workforce.

A Red State Raises Its Workers’ Minimum Wage to $15

North Carolina Republicans overrode the Democratic governor to increase some state employees’ pay. What led to this unexpected decision?

Data-Based Decision Making Works Great, Til Someone Cheats

There’s a long list of government agencies that have fudged numbers in misleading ways.
 

Features from Governing

In Government, Buying Local Is Popular. But Is It Beneficial?

Many U.S. cities make an effort to use the goods and services of companies in their own city limits. It has some troubling side effects.

Can Government Hiring Get Out of the Stone Age?
 
As states and localities have tried to modeThe Taxing Problem of an Aging Populationrnize the way they attract and retain public workers, some proven practices have emerged.

The Causes, Costs and Consequences of Bad Government Data

States and Localities are embracing the promise of big data. But just how good is the information they’re collecting in the first place?
 

Equipt to Innovate Columns, A Living Cities/Governing Partnership

Opening the Data Vault

How Grand Rapids is sharing information to boost transparency and solve city problems.

A Brand-New Honor Roll

The latest top performers from Equipt to Innovate made strides in addressing racial disparities and engaging residents.

Satisfying, Successful Engagements

Getting buy-in from employees leads to greater productivity — and upward opportunity.

The Race to Race-Informed

Creating a race-informed city requires a broad range of approaches.

Understanding the Benefits of a Data-Driven Government

Cities have come a long way in using data to inform decision-making, but progress can still be made.


Reports Written for The Council of State Governments

Civic Education: A Key to Trust in Government

A comprehensive look at the steps state governments can take to increase civic knowledge

 
Columns from Capitol Ideas – Council of State Governments

The New American Dream

How demographic changes are affecting home ownership. (see p. 12)

Fertility Rates and the Future of the Workforce

How will falling fertility rates influence the economy of the future? (see p. 12)

Help Wanted: Prioritizing Deferred Maintenance

States need to invest billions in deferred maintenance, but need better data on what, where and how to spend.

How Much Does a Federal Dollar Cost the States?

A heavy reliance on federal dollars keeps budget officers awake at night.

The Taxing Problem of an Aging Population

The little-discussed effect of aging’s  impact on state revenues.

Health Impact Assessments Effect State Policymaking

These potent tools for evaluating the impact on health of governmental policy decisions have the potential to save lives, health and even money.

Law Enforcement By the Numbers

Gathering data to deal with law enforcement is becoming ubiquitous and many states and localities have started to gather and analyze all kinds of interactions between the police and the citizenry above and beyond simple arrest rates.

Governing Data

Although state governments are floating in a sea of data, the management and governance of this new kind of asset has tended to be weak, and sometimes close to nonexistent

Five Top State Issues

Barrett and Greene read the crystal ball and speculate about the issues that were going to be of highest importance in 2016

 
Posts to Re:Cap, a Publication of the Fels Institute of Government

Why Government Doesn’t Get Credit for Accomplishments

Sure there are problems, but government successes should be getting equal coverage

Performance Management and the Common Man

Lessons about managing performance from our day-to-day lives

Government and the Press: A Troubled Partnership

The disconcerting shift in how government officials and journalists relate to each other


Columns from the Association of Local Government Auditors

Auditors and Us

Why performance auditors can be among the best sources for information about states and localities


Articles from the PATIMES, American Society for Public Administration 

State Revenues and the Aging Population

The growing impact of an aging population on state revenues