Ethical Misconduct at the Department of the Interior

On January 28, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13770: Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Appointees. This order requires all appointed personnel of the executive branch to sign an ethical pledge that has the force of law. The sixth clause of the rule requires appointees to not “participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that are directly and substantially related to [their] former employer.” Doing so would create an opportunity for a perceived or actual conflict of interest because public managers are expected to act with the interest of the public in mind. Participating in agency matters that involve a former employer would introduce personal interests into a public agency’s operations and corruption is likely to result. As we saw in this module’s suggested video (“Integrity: Why is it Important?”), corruption is defined as mixing personal interests with one’s professional responsibilities to the public. A simple Google search revealed a current event that we can examine in this context.

In February 2019, the not-for-profit Campaign Legal Center issued a letter to the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior requesting that he open an ethics investigation into the alleged breach of EO 13770 for several high-ranking Department appointees. One of them is Doug Domenech, Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs and former Senior White House Advisor to President Trump. Mr. Domenech signed his ethics pledge twice: initially after the order was issued and again upon his appointment to his current position in September 2017. Before his appointment, Mr. Domenech was employed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which is currently involved in litigation with the Interior Department. The Campaign Legal Center alleges that Mr. Domenech had several meetings with Texas Public Policy Foundation officials in his capacity as Assistant Secretary to discuss the issues being litigated, a clear violation of EO 13770.

Using Cooper’s (2012) responsible administrator framework, we can understand why Mr. Domenech’s actions were examples of ethical misconduct. A responsible administrator must have both “objective accountability for conduct and subjective congruence with one’s professional values” (Cooper, 2012, p. 6). In other words, responsibility means holding oneself accountable for their professional actions and must be able to explain them to stakeholders upon questioning. If Mr. Domenech is guilty of meeting with his former employer, he has not acted responsibly. By accepting his appointment (or his role, as Cooper describes it), Domenech has also taken the responsibility of behaving within ethical norms for that role. The public expects government officials to act in the public interest and not to further their own interests at the public’s expense.

Reference

Cooper, T. L. (2012). The Responsible Administrator: An Approach to Ethics for the Administrative Role (6th ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Originally posted as a discussion assignment in the “Administrative Ethics” course at the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration.

Report: An Overview of Workforce Planning in the Public Sector

Workforce planning is commonly cited as the most challenging area of human resources for an organization. The problem has been exacerbated by the large volume of retirements and loss of knowledge as baby boomers reach retirement age. Organizations must analyze their current workforce and plan for future labor needs.

The public sector has known about the theoretical benefits of workforce planning since at least the 1990s (Johnson & Brown, 2004). However, all levels of government have had difficulty implementing workforce plans for various reasons. The research presented here was conducted to determine the status of workforce planning in the public sector. The paper begins by defining workforce planning. Then it proceeds to discuss the economic, demographic, and organizational barriers to workforce planning. It concludes with a review of how successful the three levels of government have been in implementing workforce planning.

Defining Workforce Planning

It is important to begin with the definition of workforce planning to provide a framework in which to evaluate it in public organizations. Several authors have developed definitions of workforce planning in their scholarly work. Pynes (2013) defined workforce planning as “[T]he process of analyzing and identifying the need for and availability of human resources to meet the organization’s objectives” (p. 45). This suggests a two-step process. First, organizations must analyze their current human capital in terms of the number of employees and the competencies and skill they must possess. This paper will look at ways of public organizations are analyzing their workforce and best practices suggested by scholars and government authorities. Once organizations have analyzed their workforce, they need to identify what skills and competencies are needed to meet their strategic goals and mission. Then they must determine if there are people available to meet these needs.

Taking that definition a little further, Naff, Riccucci, and Freyss (2014) defined workforce planning as “a set of procedures designed to ensure that the organization has, and will continue to have, the people and places needs to accomplish its organizational mission and goals” (p. 101). The key difference in their definition is the use of the phrase “will continue to have” because organizations not only need to evaluate their workforce in the process of paying also must continue to do it in the future. Workforce planning needs to be continuous process as both the internal and external environment in which organizations operate is constantly changing and requires adaptation.

In Getha-Taylor’s (2018) analysis of workforce planning, she refers to Pynes’ definition that I gave above. However, she is careful to make the distinction between workforce planning and succession planning. She holds that succession planning is simply planning for the replacement of leadership with existing employees. Workforce planning, on the other hand, is “a broader effort to restructure work, capture knowledge, and focus on the needs of remaining employees in the workforce sheet efforts, including reductions in force and hiring freeze” (p. 165). This definition widens the scope of workforce planning beyond just counting heads and looking at the skills of the workforce. It includes examining job positions as well as the need to focus on knowledge management and retention. Organizations must also evaluate the effects of having a smaller workforce while still be expected to provide the same levels of service. This would result in significant changes to how workforces are planned.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) gives the best and most succinct definition of workforce planning: “workforce planning is a systematic process for identifying and addressing gaps between the workforces today human capital needs” (U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2005). This definition focuses on the idea of “filling the gap” between what is now what organization needs in the future. Another section this paper will demonstrate the importance of going further than simply identifying planning necessary activity. Organizations must take tangible action to get from where they are now to where they want to be.

All definitions outlined above are forward-looking and see sustainability as the organization Pynes (2013) and Naff et al. (2014) focus on the organizational. This is a needs-based approach to defining human resource afterwards people will organizations future goals? There (2018) casework approach to workforce planning. She suggests that there are many variables that affect the human resource management function. These variables include both internal and external forces, which will be outlined in a later section. The Office of Personnel Management emphasizes the need to fill the gap between what organizations have now in terms of human capital and what they will be in the future.

The Economics of Workforce Development

Supply and Demand

When there is a variance between supply and demand of human resources, corrective decisions must be planned for (Pynes, 2013). The demand for human resources increases the demand for services. Changes in demand can also occur when there are changes in workforce demographics, technology, globalization, society, and energy resources (as cited in Naff et al., 2014). The supply for human resources can increase for many reasons. Typically, supply increases for certain job types and organizations as opposed to changes at the macroeconomic level. Some reasons that the supply of human resources increase include delayed retirements, reductions in programs or elimination of departments, or when improvements in technology render position obsolete. To develop a workforce plan, a variance analysis is performed when comparing supply and demand. Variance analysis will reveal either a gap or a surplus.

A gap occurs when human resources demand exceeds supply. Gaps can occur when employees retire or terminated, resulting in a reduction of the supply. Additionally, gaps may occur when an agency services are spent because of an increase in demand. Workforce gaps can occur on a short-term or long-term basis. For example, if a high-level employee is going on vacation for a month the baby possible to hire temporary staff person to fill the gap. Several people retire in one year, there would have to be more planning done to ensure that service goals and objectives so much. Some solutions to filling gaps include hiring new staff, trading existing staff to take on additional work succession planning, and outsourcing.

Surplus occurs when human resources supply exceeds demand. Again, the situation is much more likely to occur at the microeconomic level. Surpluses occur when demand decreases due to reductions and programs or when staff does not retire as planned. Surpluses may also result when improvements in technology render position obsolete. Surpluses occurred after the severe economic recession experienced by the United States in 2008. Many public organizations faced budget reductions and decreased consumer spending, leading to decreased demand for certain services. To cure a surplus, organizations have few options. They can retrain existing staff for other positions if they are available. They could transfer people to other agencies or departments. Finally, they can terminate staff. Unfortunately, termination is costly. But in some cases, it may be less expensive to keep an employee on payroll who has nothing to do.

Forecasting and Planning

With the concept of human resources supply and demand firmly grasped, we can understand how organizations use it for forecasting and planning their workforce needs. According to Pynes (2014), “forecasting and planning are complementary in that forecasts identify expectations, while plans establish concrete goals and objectives” (p.46). Organizations can forecast demand to determine future staffing needs. For example, if Congress recently passed legislation that creates a new department within an agency, agencies managers will need to determine how many people will be required to run the department. Furthermore, they will need to know where these employees will be needed. It is possible that the new department will have regional offices in several states. If that’s the case, the demand for staff will be high. In addition to headcounts, managers must analyze what work will be done and how it will be performed.

Demand forecasts can also be used in existing organizations. Pynes (2014) recommends using a SWOT analysis of existing staff competencies and what future employees’ resumes should look like for given positions. This allows managers to determine where future problems may lie in workforce planning. They can also determine what strengths employees currently have that may be underutilized. It is possible that employees may not require training to move to a different position to take on more work.

The supply of candidates for employment in public organizations come from two sources. Internal candidates are those that are already employed by the organization. It is easy to project the supply of internal candidates using human resource information systems (Naff et al., 2014). Training and development programs can focus on the skills and competencies needed to meet the organization’s strategic goals. Training can either be internal or off-site. Indeed, training and development lead to higher job satisfaction and enable organizations to better meet their strategic goals (Nigro & Kellough, 2008).

External candidates come from outside the organization. It is much more difficult to get candidates externally and internally, especially for public organizations. Recruitment and selection procedures for public organizations must be compliant merit systems protections. Testing and selecting individuals based on merit is a long process, which may discourage organizations from seeking external candidates. On the positive side, organizations can better manage diversity by looking for new candidates outside of the organization (Goodman, French, & Battaglio, 2015; Riccucci, 2002).

Demographics greatly affect the supply of human resources for public organizations. For example, different age groups have different expectations about how work should be done and even what types of jobs they should hold (Naff et al., 2014). Since demographics are so important to workforce planning, a review of the demographics seems prudent.

The Multigenerational Workforce

Much has been written about the multigenerational workforce and the different characteristics of each generation and how those characteristics impact their views on society and employment. Furthermore, each generation interacts with other generations differently (Sandeen, 2009). Much of the research discusses older generations known as “the silent generation” and “veterans.” However, few people from those generations are still in the workforce, since they are all over 75 years old. Therefore, I will only review three generations: the baby boomers, generation X, and generation Y.

Baby Boomers. Baby boomers were born between 1945 and 1965 (Naff et al., 2014). They represent the largest generation in the workforce. They were born during the prosperous time that followed World War II. They tend to focus on individual achievement and seek instant gratification. Their desire for instant gratification has led them to buy much on credit and not save for retirement (Sandeen, 2009). Their lack of retirement savings has led to delayed retirements for many boomers (Jacobson, 2010). Public organizations are facing a surplus of employees due to these delayed retirements. Some states have offered early retirement packages, but many of these have proven to be ineffective (Wagner, 2017). Even though the pace of retirements has slowed since 2014 (Center for State and Local Government Excellence, 2017), more than half of public employers surveyed have either accelerated their retirement date or will retire as planned. Furthermore, plans must be made to transfer the institutional knowledge of retiring employees to others in the organization. Knowledge management is a piece of HR planning may also be called “succession planning.” The focus of succession planning is on the grooming of internal candidates to fill positions of retiring employees. A “pipeline” of development would allow for all positions to be filled in a hierarchical line when someone at the top leaves the organization

Generation X. This cohort was born between 1961 and 1981. They tend to be more career-oriented than their baby boomer parents. This is because many of them watch their parents lose their jobs and lose their secure pensions. They saw no benefit of working for single-employer for their entire lives just to get nothing in the end. This generation tends to save more for retirement and are savvy shoppers, always looking for savings (Sandeen, 2009). This generation may not be as well educated as their parents because they did not go to college in his great numbers as previous generation. However, they have excellent people skills and know-how to negotiate (Sandeen, 2009).

Generation Y. The generation Y cohort was born between 1981 and 2000. There was a focus on educating this generation. Boomer and generation X parents of generation Y children started preparing them for college at a young age. They are team-oriented and only want to own the best of everything. They received recognition for everything as children and expect to be promoted and receive perks and bonuses in the workplace as adults. Many have attended graduate school. They are career-oriented and will leave a job if they are not catered to, presenting difficulty in workforce planning (Sandeen, 2009). Many public organizations reward employees much further from the rewarded behavior than they would like (Naff et al., 2014). Many boomers and generation Xers criticize this generation for not understanding the harsh realities of “the real world” (Sandeen, 2009). This may lead to conflict in the workplace that must be managed (Riccucci, 2002).

Summary of the Economics of Workforce Development

The concept of supply and demand is critical to the development of workforce plans in public organizations. Governments must be able to analyze their current workforce and determine whether supply meets demand. If there is a variance between supply and demand, the organization must take corrective action or face negative consequences. Forecasting demand is important so organizations can determine future staffing needs, determine where employees are needed, and analyze what work needs to be done and how it will be performed. The multigenerational workforce must be managed to ensure diversity in the workforce now and in the future.

Governments have faced many challenges in human resource planning. As the economy contracts, governments must find ways to cut costs as revenues decrease due to unemployment and lower consumer spending. This usually leads to austerity measures such as furloughs, hiring freezes, and reductions in force. As technology advances, many jobs lost during economic recessions are lost permanently. In many instances, the staff left behind must take on additional responsibilities and must receive training to that end. Economic expansions may lead to additional demand for government services and therefore additional staffing requirements. Furthermore, local governments have found it more difficult than the federal or state governments to recruit people into public service positions (Goodman, French, and Battaglio, 2015). These economic challenges will continue for the foreseeable future. Workforce planning is a necessity in this time of uncertainty (Getha-Taylor, 2018).

Competitive Government and Privatization

One solution to the workforce planning challenges faced by public organizations is to outsource government services to private companies. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Circular A-76, which requires agencies to determine which activities are not “inherently governmental” and to give private enterprises an opportunity to compete with government for provision of such services (Naff et. al, 2014). A service is inherently governmental if it can only be done exclusively by the government. Some examples of jobs that are not inherently governmental are accountants, policy analysts, and ICT professionals. White (2009) stated “an inherently governmental activity is one that is intimately tied to the public interest and requires considerable public policy discretion on the part of the jobholder in making decisions that bind the federal government to a commitment of funds or a new course of action” (p. 14). White points out that the hermeneutics of the phrase “inherently governmental” in Circular A-76 are a fine point. It is easy to say that a police officer can be employed commercially. However, should a police captain or commander be outsourced as well? After all they can make decisions that change the level of service provided to a community.

The federal government has not seen much benefit from privatization and outsourcing. State and local governments have seen more success in contracting social service work to nonprofits (Naff et al., 2014). Better workforce planning is needed to ensure that appropriate staffing levels are maintained.

Organizational Barriers to Workforce Planning

In addition to the economic and demographic barriers described above, Getha-Taylor (2018) described organizational barriers to effective workforce planning. These include lack of executive support, improper time management, insufficient financial resources, insufficient staffing to develop and implement plans, merit system constraints, and changes in executive administrations. These organizational barriers prevent effective workforce planning in public organizations.

Unless executive leadership understands the benefits of HR planning, they may be unwilling to integrate human resource concerns into the organization’s strategic plans (Getha-Taylor, 2018). Obviously, without top-level support in the organization resources will not be directed to implementing a workforce plan. As we will see, the first phase of any workforce planning model is obtaining executive support for workforce planning development.

The second organizational barrier to workforce planning is the lack of time that managers have to deal with planning (Jacobson, 2010; Selden, Ingraham, & Jacobson, 2001). Much more time is spent on immediate concerns. This is typical of most public and private organizations. Planning takes a back seat to the more pressing concerns of the day. If workforce planning is integrated into the organization’s strategic plan, it is more likely that managers will held accountable for workforce planning.

Another related concern is insufficient funding and staffing of human resource departments (Getha-Taylor, 2018; Jacobson, 2010). Public organizations have faced reductions in budgets since the 2008 recession. As a result, they do not have the resources to hire additional staff to develop human resource plans. Ironically, human resource departments have suffered along with the rest of the organization, losing staff and productivity.

The Human Resource Planning Process

Many government agencies, state and local governments, and scholars have developed models for human resource planning. Many of these models are like other problem-solving models in that they seek to analyze the problem, develop alternatives, select a solution, implement the solution, and evaluate results. These models are cyclical in nature because problem-solving is continuous. As stated earlier, workforce planning is continuous cycle because workforce needs should be constantly monitored in the always-changing environment.

Step One: Determine Strategy

It is important for the agency to align the support everyone in the organization with the strategic goals and objectives (Getha-Taylor, 2018; Helton & Jackson, 2007; Naff et al., 2014; Selden et al., 2001). A thorough understanding of the organization’s mission, services, and customer profiles will ensure that management can properly assess future needs and determine where the challenges lie. This is the foundation for the remaining steps in the model.

Step Two: Workforce/Gap Analysis

This is also a critical step in the workforce planning model. This is the analysis of the supply and demand of human resources discussed earlier. By developing supply and demand profiles, a variance analysis can be performed to determine whether gaps or surpluses exist in the workforce (Fadairo, Williams, & Maggio, 2013; Getha-Taylor, 2018; Naff et al., 2014). Due to the voluminous amounts of information collected by government agencies, the only barrier to this step is lack of priority setting by management. Once this step is complete, the workforce plan can be developed.

Step Three: Develop the Workforce Plan

Using the workforce analysis from step two, the agency can determine which gaps and surpluses are most urgent and address them accordingly. A plan should be developed to fill the gap using solutions such as those described in the “forecasting and planning” section above. After the plan is developed, it must be implemented.

Step Four: Implementation

Implementing the workforce plan is much like implementing a service change or new product. It requires proper staffing and training and (again) management support. Unfortunately, while many governments have acknowledged the importance and benefits of workforce planning, they have not implemented their plans (Goodman et al., 2015; Selden et al., 2001). The key to implementation is ensuring that resources are dedicated to the plan.

Step Five: Evaluation

As in any problem-solving model, the final step is to evaluate the outcomes of the plan’s implementation. Management must determine what parts of the plan worked and where it could be improved. This is another type of variance analysis, with the workforce plan as the normative standard compared to the program results. After program evaluation, the cycle starts over to determine next steps in human resource planning.

Have Public Organizations Effectively Implemented Workforce Planning?

As stated in the previous sections, many public organizations recognize the need for workforce planning. However, governments at all levels have had varying success. After performing a broad scan of the literature, there is a large gap between where organizations are today versus where they should be in terms of workforce planning. At this point, specific cases of governments that have used workforce planning or have made personnel policy changes in efforts to meet workforce planning goals will be evaluated. First, the federal government’s policy on workforce planning is reviewed. Then examples of state and municipal level workforce planning strategies will be examined to determine whether workforce planning has been successful and is worth pursuing.

The Federal Government

The executive branch of government has made workforce planning priority for many years. The President’s Management Agenda for fiscal year 2018 devotes several pages to workforce planning. The Government Accounting Office regularly issues reports on the workforce planning efforts of federal agencies with recommendations for improvement. Unfortunately, federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have not fully implemented the OPM standards for workforce planning (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2017). The GAO found:

EPA partially follows leading practices of strategic workforce planning for its grants personnel by identifying critical skills and competencies, primarily for grant specialists; developing strategies to address skill and competency gaps by updating training courses as EPA issues new regulations; and taking some steps to monitor and evaluate progress by developing some performance measures for its 2016-2020 Grants Management Plan. However, according to agency officials, EPA has not reviewed project officer critical skills and competencies because of competing priorities (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2017).

The report goes on to say that EPA managers should receive better training and development and that core competencies should be evaluated gaps identified. The organizational barriers that led to these findings were related to management not prioritizing workforce planning as well as pressure to handle day-to-day tasks. The EPA seems to only have partially completed each of these steps in the human resource planning process outlined in the previous section. To that end, we learned that it is important to ensure that all steps are completely and thoroughly followed to ensure success. This is especially true of the workforce and gap analysis step.

State Governments

The original research question that was proposed to be answered in this report asked how successful various states were in implementing workforce plans. Furthermore, the proposal asked how states compared with each other and if there were any learning experiences shared by states. Unfortunately, research on the specific questions is scarce. Most of the literature about workforce planning at the state level is academic and theoretical (Goodman et al., 2015). However, it is still wise to review the information that is available and determine whether future research is needed. Since state governments are considered “laboratories of democracy,” states should be testing workforce planning models to determine what works and what does not. Diffusion of such testing throughout the states would only serve to benefit public employees.

Pennsylvania. As one of our nation’s largest states, Pennsylvania employs 80,000 state employees (Helton & Soubik, 2004). According to Helton and Soubik (2004), most employees are covered by merit system and 83% are covered by unions. A large portion of these employees were set to retire by 2014. Unfortunately, a follow-up study was not performed to evaluate the outcomes of Pennsylvania’s workforce planning efforts. However, worth reviewing purposes of answering the research question posed here.

Pennsylvania developed a nine-step workforce planning model. The steps were: 1. Analyze agency mission, goals and initiatives; 2. Determine future work requirements: 3. Analyze resources and projections; 4. Perform high level workforce gap analysis; 5. Develop close organizational plan: 6. Perform detailed gap analysis; 7. Create workforce solutions action plan; 8. Implement workforce solutions action; 9. Many workforce planning results recommend improvements (Helton & Soubik, 2004). The Pennsylvania model is basically an extended model of the workforce planning model that is outlined earlier section of this report. The workforce and gap analysis are broken out into two steps. And set one of the model from this report is for reception of little. The level of detail the Pennsylvania model demonstrates the fault of all and their desire to properly implement workforce.

Pennsylvania have a transfer of success in workforce planning even before the smallest of. For example, they were able to mitigate for those of employees at state that listeners and they developed a workforce planning website to help decentralize their workforce planning efforts (Helton & Soubik, 2004). These milestones, among others, set the stage for development of the workforce planning model. Even with their success, Pennsylvania learned some valuable lessons. For example, some solutions were constrained by legislation:  retirees are not eligible for reemployment and those for receiving annual pension payments also preventing the rehiring of retirees (Helton & Jackson, 2007).

Georgia and Florida. Both Georgia and Florida implemented drastic personal reforms in the early 21st century. Many of these reforms converted the merit system a bureaucracy to at will employment. The goal was to decentralize a personal demonstration of state-sponsored make it easier to fire. Unfortunately, many of these actions will make the workforce more volatile and more difficult to plan. For the most part, states seem to not be following best practices in human resource planning as outlined by the Winter Commission in 1993, resulting in a loss of trust and confidence in the government (Nigro & Kellough, 2008).

Local Government

Much like state government, local governments are finding it challenging to implement workforce plan. However, they are aware of the need for workforce planning. As shown in the figures at the end of this report, local governments have not been able to successfully implement workforce planning even though they understand the impact of not having a workforce planning process.

Goodman et al. (2015) found several determinants of municipalities that have implemented workforce planning. First, they found that municipalities that emphasize professional development and training for their employees have greater workforce planning success. It seems likely that proper training and development provides a pipeline of potential employees that will be available to fill a vacancy shall one arise.

Another interesting finding in their study was that the presence of unions positively influenced the results of workforce planning. This was the opposite of the researchers’ hypothesis that there would be an inverse relationship between workforce planning and union membership. It appears that cities are viewing unions as partners in workforce planning. Such relationships can also increase motivation among workers when they see management and unions working together instead of fighting over wages and benefits.

Goodman et al. (2015) also found that municipalities with a council-manager form of government were more likely to engage in workforce planning. They suggest that professional management of a city is more likely to result in better workforce planning. The authors also concluded that diversity plays a role in workforce planning. Finally, they found that cities with human resource information systems were more likely to have workforce planning in place. Of course, since these systems provide much data to managers, they can better analyze and forecast the city’s labor supply and demand.

Human resources or workforce planning is an important part of the strategic plan of a public-sector organization.

Conclusion

Workforce planning is used to fill projected future gaps between labor supply and demand. As greater numbers of baby boomers reach retirement age, public sector organizations must plan for the demographic changes in the workforce. Furthermore, they must overcome economic and organizational barriers to workforce planning.

Local governments have had the most success implementing workforce planning. However, only less than half of these organizations have a comprehensive workforce plan in place. More research is needed to determine the success of workforce planning at the state level. Training and development, the use of HR information systems, partnership with unions, and diversity management are positive indicators of successful workforce planning.

References

Fadairo, S. A., Williams, R., Dba, C., & Maggio, E. (2013). Workforce Planning and Management The Need for Workforce Planning and Management Practice. Journal of Government Financial Management, 62(4), 34–39.

Getha-Taylor, H. (2018). Workforce Planning in Turbulent Times. In N. M. Riccucci (Ed.), Public Personnel Management: Current Concerns, Future Challenges (6th ed., pp. 165–174). New York: Routledge.

Goodman, D., French, P. E., & Battaglio, R. P. (2015). Determinants of Local Government Workforce Planning. American Review of Public Administration, 45(2), 135–152. https://doi.org/10.1177/0275074013486179

Helton, K. A., & Jackson, R. D. (2007). Navigating Pennsylvania’s Dynamic Workforce: Succession Planning in a Complex Environment. Public Personnel Management, 36(4), 335–347. https://doi.org/10.1177/009102600703600404

Helton, K. A., & Soubik, J. A. (2004). Case Study: Pennsylvania’s Changing Workforce: Planning Today with Tomorrow. Public Personnel Management, 33(4), 459–473.

Jacobson, W. S. (2010). Preparing for tomorrow: A case study of workforce planning in North Carolina municipal governments. Public Personnel Management, 39(4), 353–377. https://doi.org/10.1177/009102601003900404

Johnson, G. L., & Brown, J. (2004). Workforce planning not a common practice, IPMA-HR study finds. Public Personnel Management, 33(4), 379–388. https://doi.org/10.1177/009102600403300403

Naff, K. C., Riccucci, N. M., & Freyss, S. F. (2014). Personnel Management in Government: Politics and Process (7th ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Nigro, L. G., & Kellough, J. E. (2008). Personnel reform in the states: A look at progress fifteen years after the Winter Commission. Public Administration Review, 68(SUPPL. 1). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-6210.2008.00978.x

Pynes, J. E. (2013). Human Resources Management for Public and Nonprofit Organizations : A Strategic Approach. Somerset, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/rutgers-ebooks/detail.action?docID=1272168

Riccucci, N. M. (2002). Managing Diversity in Public Sector Workforces. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Sandeen, C. (2009). Boomers, Xers, and Millennials: Who are They and What Do They Really Want from Continuing Higher Education? Continuing Education, 73, 93–113.

Selden, S. C., Ingraham, P. W., & Jacobson, W. (2001). Human resource practices in state government: Findings from a national survey. Public Administration Review, 61(5), 598–607. https://doi.org/10.1111/0033-3352.00130

U.S. Government Accountability Office. (2017). EPA Partially Follows Leading Practices of Strategic Workforce Planning and Could Take Additional Steps.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management. (2005). OPM’s Workforce Planning Model. Retrieved from http://www.fedscope.opm.gov/index.asp

Wagner, E. (2017). Ineffective Use of Early Retirement Offers, FEHBP for All and More. Government Executive. Retrieved from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.proxy.libraries.rutgers.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=40&sid=0c3dd390-d523-4766-9526-d8fa356d3963%40sessionmgr104&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3D%3D#AN=123496009&db=bsh

White, J. D. (2009). The Hermeneutics of Government Contracting. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 31(3), 302–321. https://doi.org/10.2753/ATP1084-1806310301

Figures

identification of workforce planning as a need

Figure 1. Identification of workforce planning as a need (n=29).

Source: Jacobson, W. S. (2010). Preparing for tomorrow: A case study of workforce planning in North Carolina municipal governments. Public Personnel Management, 39(4), 353–377. https://doi.org/10.1177/009102601003900404

Nature of NC workforce planning efforts

Figure 2. The nature of workforce planning efforts in North Carolina municipalities (n=30).

Source: Jacobson, W. S. (2010). Preparing for tomorrow: A case study of workforce planning in North Carolina municipal governments. Public Personnel Management, 39(4), 353–377. https://doi.org/10.1177/009102601003900404

Note: This report was completed for the graduate course “Human Resources Administration” at Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration, Fall 2018.

E-government and Citizen Engagement

Technology has been a fundamental aspect of public administration since before public administration became a field of study (Shark, 2015). Electronic government, or e-government, has extended this technological tradition into the 21st century. Just as technology is a rapidly changing concept, the definition of e-government has expanded over time. Shark (2015) calls e-government “the business or administrative processes between government to government as well as government to business and all the relationships that transpire among each other” (p. 54) Shark’s discussion, regardless of his addition of electronic communication technology to this definition, is inadequate.

Searching for a more precise definition of e-government helps us focus on information and communication technologies (ICTs). Brown (2005) offers a much better definition:

[Originally] online delivery of public services… [and later] the entire range of government roles and activities, shaped by and making use of information and communication technologies (p. 242).

Exact definitions of e-government elude us because the “entire range of government roles and activities” encompasses many different types of services provided to constituents and various ways that governments interact with employees and each other. E-government has allowed governments to use the internet and other modern, digital technologies to perform their duties.

With a good definition of e-government in hand, we can begin to discuss the areas researchers are focusing on within the e-government space. Bolívar et al. (2012) found several research areas in their analysis of journal articles related to e-government. They included legal aspects, budgeting and fiscal management and information, government transparency, the implementation of e-government, intergovernmental relations, program evaluation and planning, trust in government and citizen satisfaction, e-participation, and e-democracy (Bolívar et al., 2012). The authors also discussed the importance of e-government in developing engaged, actively participating citizens, which leads to the research question addressed here:

Q1:      How are governments using e-government to increase citizen engagement?

The question is significant because citizen engagement increases trust in government and citizen satisfaction (Bolívar et al., 2012). It is essential that the government not waste the limited resources provided by taxpayers. Citizens should be aware of what their government is doing and how government actions impact their lives. An informed public is necessary for a “government by the people, for the people” (Lincoln, 1863). Citizen engagement is critical to the public policy process. The development of information and communication technologies has allowed citizens to engage in the process electronically, which forms the following hypothesis:

H1:      E-government improves citizen engagement through e-participation and e-democracy.

This report will examine how citizen engagement and political participation have changed with the evolution of technology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. First, e-participation and e-democracy will be defined. Second, it explores the rulemaking provisions of the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946 as an example of how e-government has been used to increase citizen engagement with the executive branch of the United States government. Following this example, it looks at the potential of e-voting through a comparative analysis. Finally, the paper will conclude with a discussion of whether the governments have successfully implemented e-government and where future research should be focused.

E-participation and E-democracy

Information and communication technologies affect citizen engagement in three different ways. First, government websites provide information about its functions, finances, and services. For example, a New York City resident can visit the city Comptroller’s web page to see how the city is performing in meeting its budget goals for the year. Second, information and communication technologies provide enhanced consultation opportunities in the public policy process. Many governments accept electronic comments on proposed legislation and rules, including the federal government (as will be discussed in a later section). Finally, ICT’s allow the public to actively participate in democracy by making their proposals to the government. Some governments, for example, have participatory budgeting schemes that allow citizens to make direct decisions on how they will spend tax revenues (OECD, 2001; OECD, 2003).

Citizen engagement depends on citizens being not only active but informed. Fishkin (cited in OECD, 2003) “argue[d] the need for ‘mass’ deliberation by citizens instead of ‘elite’ deliberation by elected representatives” (p. 28). Failure to properly take the time to deliberate issues results in poor decision-making because citizens may not have all of the information they need to make good decisions. Furthermore, if elected representatives are making all of the decisions, they may be perceived as being “out of touch” with their constituents.

In 2003, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development opined that technology did not exist to allow for mass deliberation by citizens. OECD felt that citizens should play a more significant role in producing policy instead of merely consuming it (2003). Of course, with the advent of Web 2.0 and social media sites like Facebook, citizens are much more actively debating issues and coming to a better understanding of the details involved in policymaking. Furthermore, citizens can mobilize through social media and take political actions. These actions could range from demonstrations against hate in the United States to a full revolution like Egypt experienced in 2011 that was the result of social media activism.

E-government in action: E-rulemaking

America’s founders designed its democracy with checks on power to ensure that no one branch of government had too much control. Sometimes, Congress gives this power to the people. In 1946, Congress passed the Administrative Procedures Act, placing a check on the executive branch’s power to make rules and regulations. Whenever a government agency makes a rule, they are required to post a notice to the Federal Register and provide the public with time to make comments on proposed rules.

The purpose of the comment period was to “[provide] for citizen consultation with all agency rulemaking activities” (Noveck, 2009, p. 130). However, in practice, commentary has mostly been made by corporate and special interests, as well as other government agencies. Regular citizens have historically made few comments except in highly sensationalized instances. The introduction of e-government changed how government agencies create rules and regulations.

The E-government Act of 2002 established “e-rulemaking” procedures, allowing the public to post comments on proposed agency rules on the internet via a government website dedicated to that purpose. The user interface for making comments is a straightforward text box where people enter their comments and submit them by clicking a submit button. This initiative has not increased citizen engagement or participation. Corporate and special interest groups still make many of the comments on proposed rules and regulations. Furthermore, automated computer programs called “bots” can submit thousands of comments, flooding the system. Agencies do not have the resources to sift through the thousands of comments they receive (Noveck, 2009).

It is unfortunate that this implementation of e-government has not been successful regarding outcomes. Citizens will not be willing to submit their genuine concerns about the rules that affect them if they do not have faith that the agencies will listen to them (OECD, 2003). They will instead turn to social media outlets to organize for political change. To improve e-rulemaking, legislation may be required to limit the number of comments from any one entity. Furthermore, Congress must allocate additional resources to this vital form of citizen engagement by providing additional staff to review and interpret citizen comments.

E-voting

One of the primary forms of political participation and citizen engagement is voting. In the United States, voter turnout is historically meager compared to the number of eligible voters. The reasons for low turnout include voter apathy, distance from polling locations, the weather, and myriad others. After the 2000 presidential election in the United States, there was greater concern about manual election systems, and there was a push for reform to use information and communication technologies to improve the accuracy of voting counts (Kenski, n.d.).

Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002 to modernize the voting systems. The implementation of the act met with little success. There are still problems in polling places nationwide. Computers break down, scanning systems do not always work, and voting systems are not consistent between states. States administer election procedures and processes and therefore have little incentive to change their systems, even with government funding assistance.

In addition to updating voting systems at polling places with modern Information and communication technologies, some places have implemented internet voting. There are many obvious reasons why people would prefer to vote online. For example, voting from home is just more convenient. Some citizens, especially senior citizens and voters with disabilities, may not be able to travel to polling locations far from their homes. The media have accused many boards of elections of voter suppression by creating a single polling place for thousands of voters, who must wait in line for hours to place their vote. They also cite voter suppression as a reason for placing polling locations far from minority neighborhoods. Internet voting could potentially solve these problems.

Some places have already implemented internet voting. The only nation to hold national elections with the ability to vote online is Estonia (Lust, 2015). In the 2015 election, 31% of voters voted online. In order to vote online, voters had to follow a procedure (detailed in Lust, 2015) that included using a national ID card in combination with a card reader they purchased and attached to their computer. The ID card is one that all citizens have already that contains a “smart chip.” They use this ID when making purchases online to secure those transactions as well. Voters also received a unique one-time use password for the voting system. The system sends to one server, then consolidated and transferred to another server that counts the votes.

Lust (2015) found that there were many problems with the internet voting system in Estonia. During controlled tests, viruses easily infected systems that could change people’s votes. Viruses could also infect servers that counted votes in order to manipulate vote counts and results. Furthermore, voters were able to change their votes due to constitutional restrictions and laws. There was no way to ensure that the person submitting the vote was the same person who used the ID card during the voting transaction.

In addition to the significant security concerns that were outlined in Lust’s report (2015) on Estonia, there are other concerns about implementing internet voting in the United States. First, each state runs its election system, which means that each state would develop different e-voting systems with potentially many different vendors. With so many different systems across the United States, it would be challenging to ensure that officials adequately tested all the systems for susceptibility to intrusion and hacking.

Another issue that Lust (2015) discovered was that most of the people who voted online were wealthier, urban Estonians; agrarian and poor voters were not well represented among internet voters. Many of these voters simply lacked internet access in addition to living very far from a physical polling place, causing many voters not to vote at all, increasing the weight of the votes of wealthy people. The United States also has a broadband access issue in remote areas of the country (Shark, 2015). This problem compounds existing voter suppression problems because it affects many of the same areas.

Just one of these problems with internet voting would be enough to shake the confidence of voters. One of the basic tenets of democracy is that citizens trust the outcomes of elections. In other nations, people have murdered presidents and started wars because they perceived unfairness in the election process. Many authoritarian leaders pretend to have democratic elections but tamper with votes or even lie about the results. It is critical to a democratic society that voting systems remain secure. Until we eliminate the possibility of hacking, internet voting will have to wait.

Conclusion

The rapid changes in technology in the 20th and 21st centuries have resulted in incredible advances in how the government interacts with its citizens. Many governments have turned to information and communication technologies to streamline services, save costs, and increase citizen engagement. E-government is the use of Information and communication technologies to deliver government services and engage with citizens in the public policy process.

Many areas of e-government have been researched, such as the legal aspects of e-government, its implementation, trust in government, and citizen engagement, e-participation, e-rulemaking, and e-democracy. While many areas of research have been explored in the numerous journal articles examined by Bolívar et al. (2012), it seems that academics have not reached a consensus about how information and communication technologies can best be used to increase citizen engagement with their governments.

The examples given in this paper of using information and communication technologies to improve service and citizen engagement have had mixed results. Social media has been very successful at being a “marketplace of ideas” where people can debate and deliberate the details of political issues. Social movements and revolutions have started on social media. Social media was targeted with fake news stories to influence voters in the 2016 presidential election (Goodwin-Ortiz de Leon, 2017). These events demonstrate the need for politicians and public administrators to pay attention to what people are saying and doing on social media. If people know their governments are listening and acting on their concerns, they will be more likely to engage in the public policy process.

Social media has been a success, but some e-government initiatives have had troubles or even failed. As discussed, citizen participation has been thwarted by bots and corporate interests in e-rulemaking. The world is not ready for e-voting because internet security is not yet foolproof, and it may never be. For e-government to be successful at improving citizen engagement, we must address the pressing security concerns. Much more research is needed, and better project management needs to happen before public agencies can implement ICTs in critical citizen engagement infrastructure.

References

Bolívar, R., Pedro, M., Muñoz, A., Hernández, L., Antonio, M., Bolívar, M. P. R., … López Hernández, A. M. (2012). Studying E-Government: Research Methodologies, Data Compilation Techniques And Future Outlook. Academia, 51(51), 79. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1271602067?accountid=13626

Brown, D. (2005). Electronic government and public administration. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 71(2), 241–254. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020852305053883

Goodwin-Ortiz de Leon, C. (2017). Fake News and Social Media: Illusory Truth and the 2016 Presidential Election. ResearchGate. Thomas Edison State University. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.25064.06409/1

Kenski, K. (n.d.). E-Voting. In Encyclopedia of Political Communication. 2455 Teller Road,  Thousand Oaks  California  91320  United States: SAGE Publications, Inc. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412953993.n191

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Lust, A. (2015). Online voting: Boon or bane for democracy? Information Polity, 20(4), 313–323. https://doi.org/10.3233/IP-150373

Noveck, B. S. (2009). Wiki Government : How Technology Can Make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, and Citizens More Powerful. Washington DC, UNITED STATES: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/rutgers-ebooks/detail.action?docID=472728

Oecd. (2001). Engaging Citizens in Policy-making: Information, Consultation and Public Participation OECD Public Management Policy Brief.

OECD. (2003). Promise and Problems of E-Democracy: Challenges of Online Citizen Engagement. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/governance/digital-government/35176328.pdf

Shark, A. (2015). Technology and Public Management. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Zh3GNd9M1oUC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0