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

September 22, 2021

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ASPA 2022 Annual Conference Call for Proposals Open

ASPA recently announced that its 2022 Annual Conference will take place March 18-22 in person in Jacksonville, Florida. More, the call for proposals is open and panel and session ideas are rolling in. If you have not seen this information before, make sure you review our theme and track details and plan for your proposal by the October 29 deadline.

The 2022 Annual Conference will feature more than 130 panels across seven tracks, centering around the theme, “Democracy under Threat: The Future of Equality in a Post-COVID World.” Actively engaging in some of the most challenging conversations our society is facing, this conference will showcase best practices and lessons learned so we all can take steps to shore up democracy and equality around the world.

The past several years have witnessed emergent and growing threats against both social equality and public health. The gulf between the "haves" and "have nots" is not new but recent decades have seen it widen dramatically, encouraged by economics, partisan politics, racism, sexism and more. Far too often, policies characterized and put forward as benefiting the middle class and poor have, in fact, provided much greater benefit to the most affluent members of society.

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened things: Those with the most often have benefited; those with the least often have been the most victimized and fallen further behind. Simultaneously, attacks on democracy and integrity of governance—both in the United States and abroad—have frustrated service delivery, lowered morale, increased burdens and reduced trust in government to an all-time low and further impeded countries’ abilities to combat the pandemic. Where do we go from here?

The questions we are tasked to solve are never ending. Living wage or minimum wage? Universal child care or private systems? Flexible work environments or status quo? Broadband for all or pay to play? Access to health care and at what cost? Fix the bridge or build a road around? Who gets vaccines? Who gets to vote? Most important: Who gets to decide and whose rights and freedoms matter more? Our answers will impact how we define and encourage democracy and equality—and effective public administration as a result.

The 2022 Annual Conference will address the most challenging concerns our society faces right now: Upholding democratic institutions and advancing equality. Practitioners, scholars and students from around the world are encouraged to attend and contribute their research and practice to this critical dialogue. We will need ideas and strategies from a variety of cultures and perspectives to move forward and shore up our threatened systems.

Tracks for this year's event include:

  • Social Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Managing for Meaningful Public Service
  • Effective and Equitable Public Policy and Service Delivery in an Era of Growing Inequality
  • Financial Management and Planning for Uncertainty
  • Protecting and Replacing Aging Structures
  • Comparative Government and International Administration
  • Good Governance and Democracy in an Uncertain Political Environment
All submissions are due by October 29, 2021. Click here to view full track details!

ASPA staff are acutely aware of the uncertainties, variables and changing dynamics associated with this event. We are working with hotel sales and events staff to ensure that the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville meets all requirements, both programmatically and regarding our attendees' health and safety. A set of safety and registration policies will guide this year’s event and be finalized prior to the launch of registration in mid-October. Look for more information in the coming weeks. Contact [email protected] with any questions.


E-Learning at Your Fingertips

ASPA staff work tirelessly to keep your skills up to date and the information flowing all year long through our e-learning program. Visit our website to see more details about upcoming KeepingCurrent, BookTalk and Students and New Professionals series programming. Members, visit our webinar archives to catch up on what you have missed!

KeepingCurrent: Exploring COVID-19 Inequities Among Black and Latinx Populations in the U.S.: Critical Race Theory Perspectives
Sponsored by ASPA's Pandemic Taskforce
September 30 | 1 p.m. EDT
Julia Curry, Professor, Chicana and Chicano Studies, San Jose State University
Elsa Jiminez, Professor, University of California—Monterey Bay
Vanessa Lopez-Littleton, Moderator, Associate Professor and Chair, Human Services and Public Policy, California State University
Jason Rivera, Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration, SUNY Buffalo State
James Wright, II, Assistant Professor, Askew School of Public Administration and Public Policy, Florida State University

Black and Latinx populations across the United States have been burdened disproportionately by the COVID-19 pandemic. These groups experience higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths related to COVID-19. This panel will bring together public administration, public health and ethnic studies experts to examine the seemingly entrenched nature of disparate health outcomes. Panelists will discuss the necessity of using critical race theory in exploring disparate outcomes associated with COVID-19 and other social and health concerns.

BookTalk: Recovery: How We Can Create a Better, Brighter Future After a Crisis
October 14 | 4 p.m. EDT
Andrew Wear, Author

Humanity has recovered from many crises in the past: war, depression, pandemic, natural disaster. Often, we have bounced back to create a better future. The Spanish flu was followed by the economic prosperity of the Roaring Twenties. After World War II, the German economy grew to become the world’s most advanced. U.S. social and economic policies responding to the Great Depression paved the way for 20th century prosperity. As we emerge from the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, what can we learn from other recoveries? Through interviews with experts, policymakers and community leaders, Andrew Wear examines past recoveries, exploring what went well, what we should do differently and what the lessons might be for the recovery ahead of us. With governments prepared to lead, listen to experts and involve communities in decisionmaking, not only is a successful recovery possible—we also can choose to reconsider things we thought were fixed. We have an opportunity to create a better future, so let’s use it.

Fall Is the Perfect Time to Join ASPA!

Often, "fall" is associated with back-to-school rituals, shorter days and colder weather. Here at ASPA, we also think it is a great time to bring new members into the fold! Chapters and Sections are getting busy with networking and educational events, conference planning is beginning and other activities are heating up as the summer fades away. If you love your ASPA membership, now is a great time to encourage fellow public servants, scholars and students to join our society and get involved!

How does ASPA gain new members? You help us! You talk to your friends, recommend us to colleagues, encourage students to start their public administration careers with as many resources as possible and otherwise serve as a walking billboard for the programming ASPA offers that can help advance excellence in public service. (At least, we hope you do!)

We especially encourage professors to promote ASPA to their students as the school year gets started. Now is a great time to encourage cohorts to broaden their resources and make new connections to forward their careers in public service. We all feel like we lost a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic; help your students catch up!

If you need someone else to help you find the words, here’s a video from former Student Representative (and current National Council Representative) Ana-Maria Dimand talking about why she finds membership so valuable.

We rely on your help to grow ASPA and continue advancing excellence in public service all year round, but we hope you'll consider this fall an excellent time to invite peers, colleagues and students to get involved and contribute to our shared mission. Now is a great time to show others why ASPA remains the premier society in the field and how membership can advance their career in public service.

Contact us for more information about how you can share details about ASPA membership with your network!

Improving Performance through Employee Engagement

Decades of research have shown that an engaged and committed workforce is the primary driver of government performance. Organizations with highly engaged employees are more productive, achieve their missions and strategic goals, deliver responsive customer service and recruit and retain top talent.

Employee engagement is not about being touchy-feely or making sure employees are happy all the time. It's about creating the environment and culture for employees to operate at peak levels.

That's why ASPA and the CPS HR Consulting Institute for Public Sector Employee Engagement are partnering to provide public-sector organizations with research-based tools and resources to understand, measure and improve employee engagement.

CPS HR is an independent and self-supporting government agency. The Institute's Director, Bob Lavigna (a long-time ASPA member), is a past chair of ASPA's Section on Personnel Administration and Labor Relations and a former Governing magazine "Public Official of the Year."

During the past 18 months, COVID-19 and social unrest have changed the workplace irreversibly and governments across the nation are continuing to adapt to our new work environment. This includes deciding whether—and how—to return employees to the workplace, and creating organizations that are diverse, equitable and inclusive.

As employees struggle to adapt to the new workplace, including balancing their work and personal lives, research has shown that employee engagement and wellbeing have declined in the past year.

At this critical moment, public sector organizations have a unique opportunity to successfully adapt to the evolving world of work by taking evidence-based action that can dramatically improve the engagement of employees and, therefore, drive organizational performance.

In partnership with ASPA, the Institute for Public Sector Employee Engagement will work with you to tailor a strategy to understand how your employees feel about their work environment and culture, identify your key drivers of engagement and take action to improve the engagement of your workforce. This can include administering a validated employee survey that assesses key dimensions including leadership, the work itself, connection to mission, the culture, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

The CPS HR Institute also will provide national benchmark data from the public and private sectors, plus research-based recommendations and support, to help you create a more engaged workforce.

According to one government leader, "We selected the CPS HR Institute because of its holistic approach to engagement. Not just conducting the survey but also analyzing the results and helping us decide how to take action to improve engagement."

To learn more about how you can improve your organization's performance and service delivery by improving employee engagement, visit the CPS HR website or contact ASPA at [email protected].

How Does Student Debt Affect the Economy?

According to the Peterson Foundation, student debt currently stands at about $1.73 trillion and the average borrower has almost $40,000 in loans. More, the amount of student debt has more than doubled in the past decade.

As stated by the Peterson Foundation, "In general, achieving higher education supports broad economic as well as individual benefits, including a more productive workforce and higher wages. Financing one’s education through loans may enable students to enroll in post-secondary education and achieve those outcomes. However, as overall student debt has grown over the past decade, it is apparent that such borrowing can place a financial burden on households and has harmful effects on homeownership rates and small business formation."

What are the economic benefits of higher education and how does the resulting student debt harm the economy? Check out this blog for more information and keep your eyes on the news for the next moves from the federal government. Hint: Cancelling student debt does not appear to be a policy consideration.

Interested in this topic? Check out this recent Forbes article, "Student Loan Borrowers: Expect These Four Things by January."

NAPA Fall Meeting Leverages Locations across the Country for In-Person Gatherings

As National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) fellows are aware already, this year's fall meeting—taking place November 3-9—will look a little different. Accommodating continuing COVID-19 concerns, the Academy is partnering with universities across the country to host regional gatherings that will enable a mix of live and virtual events during their week-long event.

Gathering for discussions fitting this year's theme, “Addressing Grand Challenges through the Intergovernmental System,” attendees can choose in-person attendance in their region or an entirely virtual experience, based on preference and geography. Spread across five days, this flexible system will enable fellows to take advantage of as much or little of the content presented as they wish.

Partner universities include Arizona State University, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of San Francisco and Indiana University Bloomington. Organizers are planning for meals, panels, networking time and more.

There are six weeks before this event begins. Take a look at the details on the NAPA website and enjoy this year's format from whatever location is most comfortable for you.

Tips and Resources

Is It a Crime to Forge a Vaccine Card? And What’s the Penalty for Using a Fake?
People who forge their own vaccine cards, or buy forged cards, are already facing legal problems, including criminal charges.

The History of Congressional Parliamentarians and Why They Matter
They provide nonpartisan advice and expertise on the legislative process. In recent decades, their role has grown more influential, especially with budgetary matters, but not everyone agrees that’s good.

The Wrong Way to Test Yourself for the Coronavirus
Rapid tests can help you stay safe in the Delta outbreak but you have to use them correctly.

When Time and Funds Run Out
The Social Security and Medicare trust funds are projected to be insolvent in a few years. What can be done about it?

Life Insurance Premiums Are Changing
New rates are coming to the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance in October.

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


(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 recent weeks. If you have not seen these yet, make sure you read them now!


Public Finance Public Service Social Equity


Members in the News

ASPA members are in the news in a variety of ways. If you have been featured, please send a link to the article to us and we will be happy to include it in a future newsletter.

Provo Mayor Encourages Utahns to Weigh in on Redistricting
A TV spot featuring ASPA National Council District Representative Rex Facer regarding his redistricting commission's work.

Lawmakers Say Southern Utah Residents Can Help with Redistricting, Win Political Influence
More information about the Utah redistricting commission's work and Rex Facer's role.

Public Health Should Be "Pivotal" Part of Emergency Response
By Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene

Jim Crow Tactics Reborn in Texas Abortion Law, Deputizing Citizens to Enforce Legally Suspect Provisions
By Stefanie Lindquist

Meet Our Fellows: Dr. Ron Sanders
A NAPA interview with ASPA member and partner Ron Sanders.

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

Around Public Administration

Here are the most recent updates from across the profession. Did we miss you? Send us your news and we'll include it in the next round!

Upcoming Events:

Calls for proposals and other updates:
  • Call for Proposals: NECoPA 2021
    As the nation’s diversity of identities and perspectives continues to increase, public administrators face the continued challenge of including new voices in governing while responding effectively to new public needs and interests. Governments find themselves confronted with growing demands to address historic inequities in policing, education, criminal justice, health care access and exposure to environmental decline. The best solutions to these vexing and complex challenges will require public administrators to not only add diversity to their organizations, but also ensure new voices can be heard, included and adhered to in their decisionmaking processes. As we combat and recover from a global pandemic that fell disproportionately on some communities and exacerbated existing inequalities in our society, including more diverse voices in government will be critical in effectively addressing post-pandemic challenges. How can public administrators ensure the diversity they bring in is reflected in their organizational priorities? How can the field of public administration help identify the practices and strategies best suited for more inclusive decisionmaking? What does a more inclusive public organization look like? Can public organizations increase the number of voices that guide their programs without losing focus or efficiency? When diverse stakeholders disagree on priorities and directions, how should public administrators respond? We solicit panels, papers and posters from work that answers these questions and others related to our central theme, “Responsive Public Service Needs Inclusiveness in a Diverse America.” The proposal deadline has been extended. All proposals are due today, September 22, 2021. Click here for more information.

  • ABFM Announces Award Honorees
    The Association for Budgeting and Financial Management (ABFM) announced its 2021 award winners, who will be honored at its Annual Conference this fall in Washington, DC. The Aaron Wildavsky Award for lifetime scholarly achievement in budgeting and financial management will be presented to M. Peter van der Hoek. The S. Kenneth Howard Award to honor lifetime achievement by a practitioner in the field of budgeting and financial management will be presented to Edward Lehan. The Michael Curro Award for the best paper by a graduate student will be presented to John Stavick. The Jesse Burkhead Award for the best article in Volume 40 of Public Budgeting & Finance will be presented to Christian Buerger for his article, "The Influence of Finance Policies on Charter School Supply Decisions in Five States." ABFM also will recognize its 2020 honorees at the ceremony: 2020 Wildavsky Award honoree Merl Hackbart; 2020 Howard Award honoree F. Stevens Redburn; 2020 Curro Award honoree Felipe Lozano-Rojas; and 2020 Burkhead Award honorees Michael Miller and Robert Pavosevich.

  • SICA Occasional Paper Series Call for Papers: Global Food Insecurity
    As an integral part of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, the United Nations identified alleviating food insecurity as critical to the health and prosperity of the worldwide population. With the current global health crisis and continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more imperative to examine and address hunger and food insecurity across countries, regions and continents. How are governments, international and regional organizations, nonprofits and for-profit organizations, and public institutions approaching this emerging threat to human well-being, and what are the consequences? The SICA Occasional Paper Series publishes 1,000-3,000-word manuscripts, including references (in the form of policy briefs, research ideas, practitioner perspectives and reflections). Please send a maximum 250-word proposal to series editor Cristina Stanica by October 1, 2021. Final papers are due by December 15, 2021.



Here's a selection of current pieces on PA TIMES Online, covering a range of issues within the profession. We accept individual articles on a rolling basis; if you have a piece you think would fit our publication, submit it to [email protected] for consideration. (Please review our submission guidelines in advance!)


American Society for Public Administration
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Please send inquiries to Managing Editor Karen E. T. Garrett.