Connecting state and local government leaders
Among our takeaways: senior personnel need to open a dialogue with rank-and-file employees.
For Route Fifty’s 2018 Management Survey, we wanted to do a deep dive into the key operational concerns state and local governments are facing. Government organizations are not a monolith, though, and neither are their employees. What we found was a complex landscape. While there are common themes and concerns facing our nation’s cities, counties and states, we found some of the most significant and interesting results came from the differences we found among respondents.
Civil servants across the nation are as varied as the people they serve—and, each face different challenges and perspectives based on the composition of their organization and roles within government. For instance, our survey shows clear areas where local governments were finding greater success than their counterparts at the state level. From competing with the private sector in recruitment of personnel, to management of data, to ease of purchasing—local government respondents seem to report better experiences than their state government counterparts. Workers in rural and suburban areas seemed more content with the state of their government than their urban equivalents.
It’s not just about what level of government an employee serves, or whether they’re in New York City or a tiny township in Indiana. It also matters where people sit in government. Our survey found that senior personnel and those in legislative or executive offices are having different experiences than other staff.
Senior-level employees are much more likely to report confidence in their government’s recruitment, information technology, and procurement mechanisms. Meanwhile, those in executive and legislative offices are also less confident than rank-and-file workers on a number of fronts, such as the relationship between their government and federal entities.
All that said, the management survey showed many reasons to be bullish on the direction of state and local government. There is strong consensus among employees that state and local leadership is becoming more data-savvy. The state of procurement of services and products in government—a common punching bag and source of groans—got significantly positive reviews from our respondents, particularly at the local level.
Route Fifty will be highlighting some of the key trends and issues in the survey, and providing additional context regarding the results in the coming weeks.
Mitch Herckis is Senior Director of Programs for Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.