Hot Off the Presses


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

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

Why the Phrase Best Practices Makes Us Jittery, IBM Center for the Business of Government, November 12, 2020

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

How Local and State Governments are Meeting the Employee Benefit Challenge, HR News, October 2020 (reprinted by the Center for State and Local Government Excellence)

More Columns from Route Fifty

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

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

They have to offer more than office space.

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

Whither Telework, Post Pandemic? August 2020

Cybersecurity -- It's All About Relationships, June 2020

Letting the Citizens Help Run the Store, April 2020

Articles from HR News


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)

Blog posts from the IBM Center for the Business of Government

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 KingFebruary 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

The Great Overtime DilemmaKronos, 2020

Off to a Running State Capital Start: A Transition Guide for New Governors and Their Teams. 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