April 11, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic offers an unprecedented opportunity to examine federalism in action. With the goal of better understanding the strengths and vulnerabilities of the U.S. intergovernmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Academy of Public Administration convened the COVID-19 Working Group on the Intergovernmental Dimensions of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Spring of 2021. The Working Group assessed those intergovernmental responses to identify key issues and develop actionable recommendations in four areas that may facilitate the nation’s response to this pandemic and future pandemics: testing for COVID-19; non-pharmaceutical interventions for infection risk reduction, vaccine distribution, and cross-cutting and over-arching issues. Overall, the Working Group’s report offers independent perspectives on how well the intergovernmental public health and human service systems and our decentralized and distributed governance structure protected and provided for the general welfare of the populace. From this examination, the members of the Working Group provide 37 recommendations that provide a starting point for evaluating the response to a major public health crisis and for improving responses to future pandemics.
May 11, 2020
Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve who died in December 2019 at age 92, was fond of quoting Thomas Edison, “Vision without execution is hallucination.”
Before his death, the nonprofit Volcker Alliance and a group of opinion leaders came together to reflect upon his life passion: building a public service dedicated to and capable of achieving excellence. “Public Service and Good Governance for the Twenty-first Century,” which compiles the group’s analysis, shares compelling insights about the state of American institutions, public service, and what the future holds.
The book’s two overarching messages are identifiable in our struggle to conquer COVID-19. The first is that America’s capacity to govern itself is severely damaged.
April 07, 2020
The coronavirus is a public health crisis that we need to continue to take seriously. While we still have a long way to go before we prevail over this pandemic, it is fitting to review some lessons that we can learn based on recent events. The coronavirus reaffirms the fact that the world has now become much more interconnected. As a result, addressing a range of medical, financial, security, migration, environmental, and other issues will require increased coordination, cooperation, and execution across both international and domestic boundaries in the future.
Believe it or not, the United States was rated number one in the world in preparedness for a pandemic. Yet demand for ventilators and protective equipment illustrates the lack of adequate national planning. The federal government shockingly still does not have a comprehensive strategy that is risk-based, future-focused, and resource-constrained. The absence of such national planning results in crisis management approaches being employed “all too frequently” by our leaders here at home.
The coronavirus highlights a need to examine our current stockpiles and “just in time” inventory practices.
April 02, 2020
Congress has just passed the largest economic rescue package in history. Now comes the hard part: a multitude of federal agencies, private businesses, nonprofits, and state and local governments must help implement a complex piece of emergency legislation in record time. It’s a huge challenge, but we’ve been here before. What lessons can be drawn from the last substantial stimulus package—the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act—that can help speed the effective implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act?
The parallels between the two pieces of legislation are not perfect. The CARES Act is in some ways akin to a combination of the two big stimulus programs of the Great Recession: the Recovery Act and the Troubled Asset Relief Program, known as TARP, that focused on loans and bailouts to banks and large companies. And the Recovery Act, in contrast with the CARES Act, sought to combine immediate fiscal stimulus with initiatives designed to build a lasting legacy of infrastructure improvements and green energy initiatives. But there are enough parallels to make insights drawn from the Recovery Act experience a worthwhile venture.
April 01, 2020
In 2019, according to the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, only about 19% of local governments had any kind of telework arrangements in place and fewer than half the states did. Even in states that had some telework capacity, only a handful provided that option for more than a modest portion of employees.
Over the last few weeks, however, as the world has turned upside-down in the wake of a monster pandemic, governments from coast to coast are setting up hastily erected teleworking systems to keep operations running while protecting workers’ health.
On March 16, at a special conference call that focused on telework and leaves for members of the National Association of State Personnel Executives, some 30 states participated. “Basically, everyone is doing telework now,” says Leslie Scott, executive director of NASPE. “My sense is that it changed from ‘telework if you want to ‘you will telework.’
March 25, 2020
The year 2000 challenge, fondly known as Y2K, was easy to describe but not as simple to solve. To save space, which was very valuable in the early days of computer programming in the '50s and '60s, programmers adopted the strategy of using two digits to identify the year. For example, "1966" became "66".
Little did these early programmers know that financial companies, industrial firms, governmental agencies like Social Security, and the FAA would simply use the old systems as the base for the structures that they would build over the years.