Performance Improvement Begins with Change: How to Manage Change

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Change management is critical today given the immense transformations occurring in regulatory compliance, technology, the workforce, global economics and more. As federal agencies work to keep up with these trends and movements, leaders must work to develop the most efficient and effective possible approaches to manage change.

A smart way to begin this process is to look at the successes of those agencies that have done well on the change management test.  Read More


5 Reasons Why Government Agencies Fail at Workforce Planning

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Workforce planning has never been more important than it is today. With baby boomers entering retirement, millennials now represent the lion's share of the new American workforce. Government agencies need to adapt their workforce planning strategies to avoid risks related to staffing, productivity, retention and more.

Here are five reasons why government agencies fail at workforce planning, and how they can improve: Read More


Two years in: A Look at the Current Status of the DATA Act

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At just over two years old, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) has progressed towards implementation of its key provisions in May 2017, but progress has faced some key obstacles. Since its signing in May 2014, the DATA Act has challenged government agencies to improve their financial data management quality and transparency. This vision of transparency is still within sight if the momentum of implementation can be sustained. Read More


10 Ways to Capitalize on Transparency’s Potential

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Since President Obama signed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act in May 2014, federal agencies have been hard at work implementing data standards and establishing a framework for increasing financial transparency by May 2017. The Office of Management and Budget and the Treasury Department are leading the effort.

The DATA Act requires two things. First, agencies must standardize information they report about their finances, grants and contracts, using common fields and formats established by OMB and Treasury. Second, once all the spending data has been standardized, Treasury and OMB will publish it on a much-expanded version of the USASpending.gov website. Meanwhile, a pilot program is under development to test whether the same standards should be applied to the information nonfederal grantees and contractors must report. Read More


Recapture Your Agency’s ‘Why’

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How often do you stop to ask why your organization exists? Agencies often forget their identity in the midst of everyday work. The answer usually lies somewhere between "providing jobs for federal employees” and “saving the world.” But that “somewhere between” is very large, and it’s easy for organizations to lose themselves in the vast possibilities of what they could be doing to further a variety of different potential missions.

Employees generally know what they are currently working on or what programs exist in their immediate proximity. However, these activities only explain what an organization does – not why it exists. The why goes deeper than simple legislative or executive mandates. In fact, an organization’s original mandate, its original why, has likely morphed over time.

Why ask why? Read More


Four Immutable Laws of Data

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I am often fascinated by the ways in which data is erroneously perceived, collected, stored, retrieved, and reported in organizations. Data of all kinds certainly have limitations. In any given situation, I find that half the people ignore any data that is presented, and half of the remaining people misinterpret the information.

But rather than dwelling on these failures, I believe that a potential solution to data ignorance lies in thinking bigger about data. Data errors would be far less common (though certainly would not be eradicated) if people understood the true nature of data and the relationship of data to the space-time continuum (or some other type of scientific-like thing).

Therefore, I propose the following “Four Laws of Data” to help guide practitioners to understand the interdependencies within the data universe.

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Institutional Wisdom as a Tool for Effectiveness

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Mature organizations are not necessarily old organizations, but they do share the characteristic of wisdom we often attribute to more experienced people.

Wisdom is generally recognized as good problem-solving and decision-making through an integration of experience, knowledge, and deep understanding. Mature organizations are energetic, vibrant, results focused, innovative, caring, and calm. Having “institutional wisdom,” organizations can operate consistently (across quality, values, performance, results), and easily adapt to change with little to no drama whether or not the leader is present.

They regularly achieve high marks on quality, results, service, employee satisfaction, and adaptation to new realities. They proactively and realistically see issues before they become problems, are solution oriented, transparent, collaborate well with others inside and outside the organization, and get things done efficiently and effectively.

I realize this may sound utopic, but maintaining institutional wisdom is one of the critical roles of the leadership team. Without it, you are forever playing catch up in reacting to the world around you. What a mature organization looks like and how to get there is the subject of this brief article. Making it happen requires strong leadership, a cultural shift for some, and legislative action to reform the budget process and the civil service in a way that both honors federal employees and allows for strong management to support organizational effectiveness. Read More


Imagining an On-Demand Government in an Uber World

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The public sector changes slowly. We all know this. But the glacial pace of government is even more evident in its inability to adapt to the new on-demand world. Need a ride? Connect to Uber. Need a poem converted to a song but you have no musical ability? Book it through Fiverr. Need someone to proofread your latest essay? Access a world of editors immediately through Freelancer.

But need a government contract? Wait in line several months for a flawed proposal process to unfold. Read More


Using the Right Ruler to Measure Your Agency’s Performance

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COE's Dr. Paul Eder makes speaks as a guest on "In Depth with Francis Rose" of Federal News Radio.

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How Do You Measure the Effectiveness of Government?

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With the 24-hour news cycle and at-your-fingers access to the latest stories, the American people have plenty of information constantly available to them. And whether they know it or not, they are using much of that information as a de facto source for evaluating the effectiveness of government.

Each of us serves as a self-contained big data processor, tagging data elements in our own minds and using the information later to formulate decisions such as preferred presidential candidates, favored legislative efforts, and opinions about policy nuances that we may not even understand to be nuanced or policy-related.

With this context in mind, I aim to bring some clarity and simplification to a question that has very complex and multidimensional answers: How do the American people measure the effectiveness of government? For this article, I will use the term “government” to refer collectively to federal, state and local entities. Read More