Learn the latest public administration news in today's edition of The Bridge!

April 8, 2020

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In This Issue:

Federal Commission Makes Public Service Recommendations
By Brian Collins, National Commission on Military, National and Public Service

Inspired to Serve, the final report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, was released on March 25, 2020 and proposes significant changes to federal civil service personnel systems.

Established by Congress in 2017, the Commission was charged with reviewing the military selective service process and considering ways to increase participation in all forms of service. The Commission's report outlines proposals to improve federal hiring processes, attract new generations of Americans to public service, foster a high-performing personnel culture within agencies, address specific needs for workers with critical skills, improve competitiveness of federal employee benefits and build toward a modern talent-management system so agencies can compete for workers with the skills they need to achieve their missions.

The Commission’s recommendations would change hiring processes to meet modern applicant expectations, such as recruiting on third-party job boards like LinkedIn; simplifying job descriptions; and accepting standard, one-page resumes. The report also includes proposals to transform candidate assessment, such as engaging hiring managers and subject-matter experts to review resumes rather than solely relying on HR employees who may not be familiar with a particular job. The Commission also proposes a comprehensive modernization of veterans' preference (transforming it from a tiebreaker between equally qualified candidates to refocus it on recently discharged veterans transitioning from military service to civilian employment) and expanding noncompetitive hiring options for veterans and alumni of national service programs like AmeriCorps.

Additionally, the report emphasizes the importance of attracting a new generation to public service. More than one-third of federal employees will be eligible to retire in the next five years and only six percent of the federal workforce is under the age of 30. Yet since 2010, new hires of student interns have dropped by 90 percent. The Commission's recommendations would reform federal internship and recent-graduate hiring programs and establish a governmentwide statutory goal of 30,000 annual recent-graduate hires by 2026. The Commission also offers new approaches to building a pipeline between postsecondary education and public service, such as a Public Service Corps through which federal agencies would grant scholarships to university students in exchange for a four-year commitment to work in civil service employment at that agency, as well as a federal fellowship and scholarship center to better leverage existing programs and create new ones to develop individuals with critical skills and leadership potential for federal employment.

Several other important public service recommendations are in the report, including establishing competency standards and investing in training for federal HR professionals and elevating responsibility for workforce planning within each agency. To enhance the ability of federal agencies to attract and retain workers with critical skills, the Commission proposes streamlining and expanding special personnel systems for health care and cybersecurity professionals and piloting a Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve to enable agencies to quickly expand their cybersecurity workforce in an emergency.

The report also offers proposals to increase flexibility and portability of benefits, particularly for workers who do not seek career-long federal employment. Additionally, to facilitate an evidence-based approach to modernization of personnel systems, the Commission would expand demonstration authority for the Office of Personnel Management and pilot a comprehensive new personnel system at certain agencies.

The challenges facing federal personnel systems are not new and have compounded over many years. Policymakers have an opportunity—and an imperative—to take action to bolster the federal workforce and bring new generations of Americans into public service to address critical needs of the nation. To learn more about the Commission’s recommendations and its legislative proposals, please visit https://www.inspire2serve.gov/reports. View more about this report via the New York Times here.

ASPA will be hosting a webinar later this month with the Commission's chairman, former Congressman Dr. Joseph Heck. Look for more information later in this newsletter.

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What Is in the CARES Act?

Almost two weeks ago, Congress passed a record-breaking $2 trillion relief package to combat the coronavirus and its impact on society. If you haven't taken a look inside yet, the Peterson Foundation has put together an informative infographic to break it down.

In their words: The largest emergency response bill in history, the CARES Act allocates $2 trillion in emergency funding to provide relief to households, small and large businesses, states and municipalities, and health care providers, among others. Many commentators have noted that the CARES Act is better characterized as a relief bill, which addresses the more immediate fallout, than a stimulus plan, which would restore regular economic activity and is expected to roll out in subsequent phases.

Click here to review the infographic and find some explanations about key funding items in the legislation.

Also, in related news, click here for CARES Act implementation guidance via GovExec.

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More Online Education Available

While social distancing continues, with no specific end in sight, ASPA staff are working to keep your skills up to date and the information flowing. And, let's be honest: Who doesn't need a distraction from the news these days?

The following webinars will be held live later this month, and more are online in our archives, available any time for ASPA members. Some suggestions appear below.

Inspired to Serve: Recommendations for the Future of Public Service
April 21 | 1 p.m. ET
Former Congressman Dr. Joseph Heck, Chairman, National Commission on Military, National and, and Public Service
Bill Shields, Jr., Executive Director, American Society for Public Administration

As you read in this newsletter's lead story, on March 25 the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service released its final report, Inspired to Serve, and shared its recommendations to increase participation in service with Congress and the President. Now, ASPA and the Commission are hosting a webinar to discuss the recommendations. In addition to military and national service, the report proposes significant changes to federal civil service personnel systems, focused especially on attracting new generations of Americans and people with critical skills to public service. Next steps for this valuable research could include Congressional hearings, legislation to enact the recommendations, agency rulemakings and more.

Former Congressman Dr. Joseph Heck, chairman of the Commission, will join us for this webinar to discuss the Commission's public service recommendations, including federal hiring, preferences, students and recent graduates, culture, critical skills, benefits and transitioning to a modern talent management system, all outlined in the report. Joined by ASPA Executive Director Bill Shields as moderator, Commissioner Heck will outline how the Commission's recommendations are even more relevant amid the COVID-19 pandemic and answer any questions you might have.

Performance Measurement for Managing Local Government
April 23 | 1 p.m. ET
David Ammons, University of North Carolina

Out of their desire to move ahead with performance management—the use of performance information for management purposes—managers, analysts and students sometimes skip too quickly through the intricacies of good performance measurement. In Performance Measurement for Managing Local Government, David Ammons answers the persistent questions confronting everyone who has ever tried to design, refine or make measures the management tools they are supposed to be. This book describes the ins and outs of performance measurement, guides readers toward proper design of measures, illustrates common errors and ways to avoid them, offers tips and even provides sets of suitable measures on which to build.

Online Suggestions from Our Archives:

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Tips and Resources for Weathering the Pandemic

News feeds and social media continue to be overwhelmed with a variety of resources to get us all through these challenging weeks. We’ve curated some of the better ones from the past few weeks.

Working from Home Part II: 10 Apps to Keep You Productive
Working from home may feel foreign to many of us. Here are 10 apps that have become an essential part of the author's work-from-home setup.

How to Survive Pandemic Re-entry
Astronauts have given us some useful tips for surviving isolation, but we'll need more to weather a pandemic.

Try These Tips to Keep Your Cool at Home
Here are a range of expert tips and resources to reduce stress as we adjust to a new normal. For example, how on earth do we parent through a pandemic?

ABFM Resources for Budget Management
ASPA's Section, the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management (ABFM), has assembled online coronavirus resources specific to budget management, online teaching and more.

Four Tips to Protect Your Sleep in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Almost everyone has had their normal routine upset in one way or another by COVID-19 and their sleeping pattern may be compromised, too.

OPM Program Pairs Feds with Agencies Seeking COVID-19 Support
In the wake of surging demands for medical professionals and critical expertise to support the coronavirus response, the government is using temporary rotational opportunities to match current federal employees with agencies and offices that have immediate needs.

Government Technology: A Resource Guide to Coronavirus for Government Leaders
This list of resources is meant to connect leaders with useful tools to aid response efforts.

National Civic League Resources List
As the world grapples with how to respond to this growing pandemic, individuals and organizations are racing to work together and combat the impact of COVID-19 and its further spread. We are inspired by the stories of people supporting each other and engaging with their neighbors, and how local governments are leading their communities.

Washington Post Editorial: We have a lot more time now. So why can’t we get anything done?
Tongue-in-cheek, and yet so true...

GovExec Daily: Pivoting to Virtual Work Environments
Jacquelyn Phillips had to change a 90-person meeting from an in-person event to a virtual one. She joins the GovExec podcast to explain how she did it and how she continues to lead staff remotely during the pandemic.

Four Weird Things that Happen When You Videoconference
An educational technology scholar illuminates some of the odd feelings people experience when they communicate through cameras on the web.

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Public Administration Review—A Coronavirus Viewpoint Feature

If you've missed this in This Week at ASPA, don't forget that Public Administration Review (PAR) is hustling through a coronavirus Viewpoint feature and you don't have long to contribute! All manuscripts are due by May 1.

In short, PAR's Viewpoint feature is geared toward stimulating a dialogue between scholars and practitioners. PAR serves as a critical instrument for bridging these communities and this Viewpoint feature offers an opportunity to engage practitioners. For the COVID-19 Symposium, PAR seeks manuscripts from key stakeholders that are directly impacted by the pandemic and may include such topics as: health care, emergency management, crisis management, collaborative governance, network management, intergovernmental relations, leadership, social equity, risk management, hazard mitigation, public budgeting, finance, procurement and so on. Manuscripts should be approximately 3,000-4,000 words in length and actively engage both scholars and practitioners in a conversation regarding pandemic-related issues facing the broader public and nonprofit communities.

Click here for more information.

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A Non-Virus Resource: Retirement Calculations

While it feels like it's all virus, all the time, other time-sensitive matters are still happening all around us, including retirement! GovExec released this piece last week, helping federal employees calculate what they may make in retirement. Estimates only, but a helpful tool nonetheless.

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Coronavirus in the News
While you can find our usual assortment of news headlines from the past several weeks below, here are stories specific to the coronavirus that are noteworthy.


Public Finance

Public Service

Social Equity

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(Otherwise) in the News

Today's headlines contain plenty of news coverage of some of our nation's most pressing public administration challenges. ASPA has curated some of the most important stories from the past few weeks. If you have not seen these yet, make sure you read them now!


Public Service

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Welcome New ASPA Members!
Click here to view the most recent new ASPA members!

Around Public Administration

While typically we feature plenty of updates and announcements about conferences, calls for papers and other activity throughout our profession, many of these plans—especially those expected in the near future—are being put on hold, delayed or cancelled altogether. The below highlights reflect what ASPA staff believe to be true, but before you count on us, contact the organizers to make sure they are proceeding as planned as details are changing rapidly right now.

As usual, here are a couple calls for proposals:

  • Natural Hazards Review—Special Edition for COVID-19
    The proposed special collection seeks research that assesses the degree to which technical infrastructure to support interactive communication across multiple scales of decisionmaking increases or decreases social capacity for collective action to reduce the threat of COVID-19 on a global scale.
    Find the call for papers online here.

  • Series on Transnational Administration and Global Policy—Seeking Book Proposals
    This series publishes important manuscripts that explain and contribute to theorizing the expansion and institutionalization of global governance structures and processes by examining the actors and ideas permeating, shaping and critically engaging in these developments.
    Find more information here.

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Almost every article we've published in PA TIMES this month has been related to the coronavirus and, related, emergency management. You can find our archive of articles online here. Here's a list of the most recent columns.

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Please send inquiries to Managing Editor Karen E. T. Garrett.