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


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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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


Here’s Our Chance to Fix Government Once and for All

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The federal government is on an unsustainable fiscal path that threatens our national security and social safety net. While many cuts and changes have taken place, government has yet to address the effective management of programs that serve the American people. Read More


6 Simple Fixes for the Federal Procurement Process

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As the largest buyer of goods and services in the world, our government has a rigorous procurement process in place to protect the American taxpayer, designed to facilitate helping Uncle Sam buy what he needs to perform his myriad missions efficiently, effectively, and economically. Unfortunately, the federal government fails to spend taxpayer money wisely with such frequency that newspapers and television reports are rife with examples of overspending, failed projects and bloated contracts. Read More


Can Transparency Be Legislated?

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In May 2014, President Obama signed the DATA Act into law. The crux of the law is simple: Make financial data across government available in a standardized format. As a result, stakeholders will speak a common financial data language.

This is an important step toward government consistency, but not necessarily a culturally transformative event. Let’s step back for a second and think about what “transparency” truly means. Imagine a clear plastic screen replaces the wall between your office and your co-worker’s office. Day in and day out, you are able to see the interactions of your nearest work neighbor. In some ways, your neighbor’s actions are transparent -- you can see her every move. However, you are still missing a key component -- context. Why is she talking to those people? Why is she visiting that website? You can certainly use contextual cues to make an educated guess, but your guess and others’ guesses would probably not mesh completely. Read More


Dear Mr. Chairman: An open letter to the new Chairmen of the government oversight committees in both Houses

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The midterm elections clearly demonstrated that the American people are longing for Congress to do something different. The new Congress needs to begin addressing big issues that past Congresses have failed to do. Reforms in social insurance programs, tax law, civil service, immigration, and many others are critical for the American people and the health of our nation. These issues need to be addressed by Congress as a whole, but the Committees on Oversight and Government Reform in the House and Homeland Security and Government Affairs in the Senate need to take on real reform to improve the health of our government. Read More