It’s a familiar refrain: doing more with less. Budget austerity, not just in the U.S. but across the world, has forced government managers to rethink strategies on how to up productivity while slashing costs. A new white paper examining the top issues public-sector managers in the U.K. are struggling with found that decreasing procurement costs and cutting staffing costs while increasing productivity are particularly challenging areas.
It’s hardly surprising these are the same issues U.S. federal managers are grappling with. The report highlights how both internal and external relationships are the first step to surviving shrinking budgets. A strategic collaboration involving colleagues, partners, stakeholders and the public can help solve everything from procurement challenges to squeezing IT budgets even further, the report suggested.
“Traditionally, well-managed local authorities . . . might co-ordinate spending on vehicles to get the best prices for new additions to their fleet — whether the vehicles were to be used by Housing, Education, Environmental or other service departments,” according to the report.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Sep 07, 2012 at 7:03 PM0 comments
When Obama announced feds would finally get a pay raise, the good news was clouded with the stipulation it would happen only after Congress passed the budget – no earlier than April 2013.
Readers weren’t exactly overjoyed by the announcement of a pay-freeze extension, and took the opportunity to slam the decision as well as squabble about politics and play the blame game.
"What federal worker in their right mind would vote for this guy?" asked one commenter. "Especially after a two-year freeze. Now [Barack Obama] wants to continue it."
That comment was quickly rebutted by another reader who said the alternative, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, would be no better and probably worse.
"Romney has talked about cutting pay and benefits combined by as much as 30-40 percent. What federal worker in their right mind would vote for a pay cut!?!" the reader asked.
Gkamgb acknowledged the pay raise was long overdue, but noted the extension of the freeze wasn’t the worst that could happen.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Aug 27, 2012 at 7:03 PM6 comments
With unemployment rates spiking and a cut-throat job market, how do you stand out among the masses and impress a hiring manager? For starters, you don’t list “to make dough” as an objective on your resume.
CareerBuilder asked nearly 2,300 hiring managers around the nation to share examples of resume dos and don’ts. Although these were employers in the private sector, those seeking a job in government could learn a lesson or two about avoiding common pitfalls. Hiring managers in both sectors will be impressed -- or provoked to gales of laughter -- by many of the same things. For example, some lessons in how not to do it:
- Candidate called himself a genius and invited the hiring manager to interview him at his apartment.
- Candidate applying for a management job listed “gator hunting” as a skill.
- Candidate specified her resume was set up to be sung to the tune of “The Brady Bunch.”
- Candidate listed “to make dough” as the objective on the resume.
- Candidate applying for an accounting job said he was “deetail-oriented” (yes, spelled like that), and misspelled the company name.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jul 27, 2012 at 7:03 PM3 comments
Keeping writing simple is anything but in the federal government. A story I wrote yesterday underscored how agencies are struggling to communicate clearly despite a mandate that requires them to avoid complicated language.
The plain-writing advocate Center for Plain Language ranked 12 federal agencies on their compliance with the requirements of the Plain Writing Act. Each agency was given two scores. The first considers whether an agency uses plain language in its documents, has crafted a plain-writing adoption plan and educated employees in plain language, among other aspects. The second grade represents how well an agency followed the spirit of the mandate.
The Veterans Affairs Department ranked worst, with two solid F’s in both scores. Its only saving grace was naming a plain-writing official. But that’s “all they have done. . . . There is no website, apparently no plan or compliance report,” the report card said.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jul 25, 2012 at 7:03 PM2 comments
How do you show your appreciation for Uncle Sam amid anti-government sentiments? Why not make a documentary to highlight all the good stuff agencies do? That’s exactly what Seattle, Wash.--based filmmakers Flying Ninja Story Collective decided to do, and in the process they won over citizens with their “We *heart* Government” project.
The Flying Ninja Story Collective consists of four independent artists: graphic designer Jenna Abts, film editor Dina Guttmann, writer Amanda Vail, and film producer/director Cassandra Soden, who work together to create multimedia projects. To foot some of the expenses of what they dubbed their “love odes” to the government, the group members turned to Kickstarter.com, a website for funding creative projects. Not only did the collective get the attention of more than 100 backers but it exceeded its fundraising goal of $2,500.
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jul 11, 2012 at 7:03 PM1 comments
Despite the cure-all telework has been touted as, it is not much use in some emergencies, including the most recent storm-induced power outage that affected more than a million homes in the Washington area.
While some feds had the option to take unscheduled telework, many were unable to do any work at home and instead headed to the office. “Of course telework isn't a very effective option when you have no power (and your office, which does, looks like the best option for keeping cool),” one reader commented.
Another reader said while telework was useful in the other weather emergencies such as blizzards, it wasn't helpful this time.
“I personally was very happy to come to my air-conditioned office on Monday since my home was still without electricity and was 88 degrees inside!” that reader said.
If the power outage wasn’t reason enough not to work from home, another reader lamented the lack of adequate continuity-of-operations planning: “Ha! Like I'm gonna drag a 10+ pound boat anchor masquerading as a government-issued laptop home every single night on the off chance of a disaster requiring me to telework. COOP at my agency is a joke. If you really want me to be able to telework, secure your data, and provide me with VPN access from the personal device(s) of my choice.”
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jul 09, 2012 at 7:03 PM1 comments
The question Can you really trust claims about federal pay? was posed last week in a story about the complexities in determining which sector earns the most. The consensus among the panelists cited in the article was that compensation data could differ dramatically considering which methodology was used.
Case in point: The Federal Salary Council’s research had determined that federal employees on average make between 30 and 40 percent less than employees in the private sector. In contrast, the Congressional Budget Office's number pointed to feds making roughly 2 percent more than employees in private industry.
These discrepancies stirred up a debate among readers, some of whom agreed with the Federal Salary Council’s estimate.
“Federal employees have never been on par with the private sector as far as pay and has always been lower,” wrote one reader. “A person doing my job as a government contractor gets paid two times more for the same work.”
Posted by Camille Tuutti on Jun 18, 2012 at 7:03 PM12 comments