Why the Phrase Best Practices Makes Us Jittery

There may be cases in which best practices can apply from city to city and state to state. Best budgeting practices, for example – such as those developed by the Government Finance Officers Association – can certainly be useful. It’s a universally accepted best practice in budgeting, for example, that entities should cover current year expenditures with current year revenues -- not revenues borrowed from the future.

Who can argue with that?

Reducing Unreasonable Overtime with Data

Just weeks ago, under the sponsorship of Kronos, a report titled The Great Overtime Dilemma, was published, which we researched and wrote. We retained editorial control over the report.

Results-Driven Telework

A significant exception has been in Tennessee, which started aggressive telework policies several years ago. (This, of course, hasn’t included certain jobs, like correctional officers, where it is truly impossible to effectively break up an inmate altercation from a home office).

The perennial siege on performance auditors

A little under a year ago, Glendale Arizona’s City Council passed a proposal that terminated the position of the City Auditor, moving the city’s one auditor to a new city department, which now outsources its reviews and evaluations of the city’s agencies and services.  A manager and an audit committee, which include three city council members was established to oversee the new effort.

In Workforce Planning, Data Is King

We occasionally did the same for cities and counties. The news in those days, unsurprisingly, was not happy.

Mousetraps for Flawed Data

For the most part, we’ve pointed to issues that require careful examination of the information to determine if its trustworthy or not.

But, as time has passed, we’ve come across a great many signals, easily spotted and identified, that point to quicker recognition that information should be scrutinized. Here are a half dozen examples:

Performance Management: A View from the Front

We were asked to address ourselves to trends in performance management in states and localities over recent years. Having recently completed our book, Making Government Work: The Promises and Pitfalls of Performance-Informed Management, (to be released in January by Rowman & Littlefield), this was a topic that we had been thinking a great deal about over the last year, and thought we’d share some of the significant trends that we’ve discovered.

Here are six:

A Hidden Corner of Local Government: Boards and Commissions

Yet boards and commissions are crucial to the effective and efficient delivery of services, complementing the more familiar local government structures consisting of city mayors, councils, and departments.

Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene

Over the course of nearly 30 years, Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, principals of Barrett and Greene, Inc. have done much-praised analysis, research and writing about state and local governments.  Described by Peter Harkness, founder of Governing Magazine as "by far the most experienced journalists in the country covering public performance," they pioneered "grading the cities, counties and states" in management.

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Principals
Barrett and Greene, Inc.
(212)-684-5687

Over the course of nearly 30 years, Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene, principals of Barrett and Greene, Inc. have done much-praised analysis, research and writing about state and local governments.  Described by Peter Harkness, founder of Governing Magazine as "by far the most experienced journalists in the country covering public performance," they pioneered "grading the cities, counties and states" in management.

They are currently engaged as Visiting Fellows at the IBM Center for the Business of Government, Senior Advisors and Columnists for Route Fifty, Special Project Consultants at the Volcker Alliance, Senior advisors at the Government Finance Research Center at the University of Illinois in Chicago, advisors at the National Association of Personnel Executives, and Fellows at the National Academy of Public Administration.

Over the course of years, Barrett and Greene have served in an advisory or contractual capacity to many organizations central to the study of states and localities. For more than 20 years they were columnists for Governing magazine and they have also served as senior advisors at the Pew Charitable Trusts; senior fellows for the Council of State Governments and more.

One of Barrett and Greene’s most significant contributions was as founders of the Government Performance Project, which was funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and published in Governing Magazine.

Though they work on virtually all projects as a team, the one exception is that Greene serves as chair of the Center for Accountability and Performance at the American Society for Public Administration.

 

 

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