Motivated by the Mission Or by Their Careers

One of the most persistent questions facing leaders of government organizations is how to keep employees engaged, productive, and committed to serving the public. Leaders who understand and address what motivates their employees are more likely to hold on to their best people and maximize performance. In many cases, employee engagement rests on how well a manager understands employees, their reasons for working in the government sector, and how that information can be used to address employee…

Managing Training and Development at the National Gallery of Art

A new learning management system increases the scope and accuracy of data sharing, and provides opportunities to develop employee training in new ways. With nearly 130,000 items, the National Gallery of Art has one of the finest collections of American and European art from the late middle ages to the present. More than 4 million people visit the gallery each year, making it the sixth most popular art museum in the world.

Making Social Media Content as Accessible as Possible

Most everyone has heard of Section 508, the requirement that federal electronic information technology must be accessible to those with disabilities. Section 508 applies to more than is commonly understood, however. It applies to all online content that is created by the federal government and its contractors, not just content that appears on a .gov or .mil domain. The rise in use of social media and the ability to share information at lightning speed have encouraged more agencies to examine…

Making Performance Information More Useful

Only 50 percent of federal managers use performance information to help them run more effective programs. This percentage has not changed in more than a decade, according to two Government and Accountability Office studies conducted in 1997 and 2008. Similar results were noted in the 2011 survey of federal performance improvement officers (PIOs) by the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton LLP. Yet performance information officers only spend a fraction of their time on performance…

Local Government Cutback Budgeting

Since the 2008 financial meltdown, local governments continue to scramble to develop sustainable budgets. Local government cutback budgeting refers to reducing operations below the current level. It forces organizations to realign expenses with revenues. The larger the gap between expenses and revenues the greater the cutback required to re…

Labor Management and the Political Paths of Collaboration

This year will be the 20th anniversary of President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order on Labor-Management Partnerships (E.O. 12871 issued October 1, 1993). Over the past two decades, federal government employees and their union representatives have worked with federal managers to improve the delivery of service to the American public. As President Clinton noted in the preamble to his executive order, it was through cooperation that the design and implementation of comprehensive change would take place. E.O. 12871 called for the establishment of labor-management committees or councils at appropriate levels throughout the executive branch; employees and their union representatives were to be “full partners” with management representatives to better serve the agency’s customers and to satisfy its mission.

Kitty Wooley

As a self-described convener, advisor, and catalyst and founder of Senior Fellows and Friends LLC, Kitty Wooley encourages federal employees to enhance the scope and impact of their work by building collaborative networks across organizational boundaries.


This timely mini-forum on public-sector infrastructure investments blends applied research and case study insights on a diverse set of management challenges. The first article, by Wendy Haynes and Andrew Whipple, reviews and compares three transportation megaprojectsBostons Big Dig…

Intergovernmental Relations In a Time of Transition and Uncertainty

Evidence of serious problems in the American intergovernmental system is everywhere. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Ten.) recently called for an exchange by the federal and state governments of responsibilities for education and health policy to solve critical state financial problems. News stories report municipal bankruptcies and that state and local governments have laid off more than 700,000 employees during the past two years.

Innovation at Rancho Cordova

The City of Rancho Cordova in California was named #12 on the Great Place to Work best small workplaces list by the Great Place to Work Institute. It is the first local government agency to appear on the list. The selection is based on an employee survey that evaluates management credibility, respect, and fairness; and employee pride and camaraderie. Additionally, a panel reviewed organizational practices that foster the positive work culture.