LinkedIn Reblog: How to Deliver a Killer Workplace Presentation that would Rival a Ted Talk

“If you do hold a position where you are front and center and are required to speak to others publicly, then you know how daunting it can be. Even if you aren’t a people manager or leader in the workplace, you may have to stand up at a wedding or network event and speak to an audience. Either way, public speaking is still the number one fear for most people…”

Joshua Miller, the Director of Learning and Talent Development at Paypal, discusses how to tackle one of the working professional’s biggest challenges in this article over at LinkedIn.

 

Photo courtesy of © Adrian Lindley | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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TEDx Reblog: Career advice for millennials (and really, anyone)

It’s a few months after graduation, which means the luckiest new college grads are knee-deep into internships and entry-level jobs. How to stand out? Business writer Margaret Heffernan suggests: Start by taking a coffee break with your coworkers.

Management thinker Margaret Heffernan has a few pointers for building a career and building stronger, smarter organizations. At the crux? Build relationships, work together, take care of yourself, and never stop learning.

Read more about her perspective on building better employees and organizations here, and be sure to take a few minutes to enjoy her TED talk touching on the benefits of social cohesion in the workplace.

 

Photo courtesy of © Dana Rothstein | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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GAO Reblog: Getting Closure on Our Recommendations

“As of November 12, 2015, there were about 4,800 open recommendations and matters for congressional consideration for the 24 largest federal departments and agencies. If implemented, they could result in significant benefits across the federal government.”

When federal agencies implement the recommendations put forward by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), they can increase their savings and revenue, enhance services to the public, and improve federal programming overall.

Read more about the work of our federal counterparts at the GAO blog.

Source: Getting Closure on Our Recommendations

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Insights for auditors

I have been subscribing to a series of newsletters by Harvard professor Bob Behn for many years now. Behn teaches in the Kennedy School of Government. They cover many topics that touch on our audit world: accountability, performance, measures, management. The one-pagers are an interesting quick read on topics about government performance.

Behn has a good eye for the pragmatics that interfere with the best laid plans of policy makers and executives.

His narratives often bring in ideas and experiences we encounter in performance auditing, though he has raised a few questions about the profession. He wrote about one hearing he attended in Olympia in 2008 about a performance audit of the state’s transportation department, produced by contractors Ernst & Young. He learned about specific cost savings identified by the auditors but didn’t get a sense of the agency’s performance, and seemed to have an idea of what was missing:

“For a performance audit, however, what is the equivalent of the financial rules? Who has set what expectations for performance for which the auditors can check”?

It’s clear that Professor Behn comes from a measurement viewpoint, because he seems to want a target or expectation as a basis to gauge performance. The intent of performance auditors is to spot a solution or strategy that improves an organization’s performance, and results. We don’t grade agencies but we show agencies a path to save money, serve more clients, or produce better outcomes. And, as we say, there is always room for improvement…

It would be very difficult for us to produce a reliable grade because the performance of an organization is dependent upon too many variables, external and internal. Economic conditions can affect the costs of goods and services, or the workload in an employment department. Demographic changes, federal rule changes, weather conditions, and even availability of street drugs are just some of the factors that can make government agency outcomes better or worse. These agencies also face internal variables such as turnover in managers or staff, computer system efficacy, agility to change, and sufficiency of resources.

The professor writes about many of these challenges, so perhaps he is taking a second look at his first impressions of performance auditing. Some activities are subject to control, such as financial rules, while others can only be ‘managed’ within circumstances.

Here is a sampling of some of the more recent newsletters, and there are many others worth reading as well.

May 2015: Policy Design & Operational Capacity

November 2014: Avoiding the KPI Quagmire

October 2014: What Performance Mgmt Is and Is Not

August 2014: Designing a Test Worth Teaching To

July 2014: Be Both a Hedgehog and a Fox

June 2014: What Is Really Going On? [ II ]

November 2013: Measurement, Mgmt, & Leadership

October 2103: Punishing the Efficient

Gary Blackmer OAD Director

Gary Blackmer
OAD Director

 

Header Image: @Stephen Orsillo, Dreamstime Stock Photos

 

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Reblog from ELGL: We’re Loving It! The Value of Values

“All human organizations exist for a purpose. From a sports team chasing a championship (like my beloved Golden State Warriors) to a senator’s office championing the needs of its constituents, successful organizations develop a set of values that are embraced at all levels of an organizations from Stephen Curry to James Michael McAdoo….”

What are organizational values? How does an organization define its values?
A little something of ‘value’ to chew on while you chow down over the holiday weekend. Read more here!

Source: We’re Loving It! The Value of Values

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Audits and Oregon’s Integrity Ranking

The Center for Public Integrity recently issued a report that assessed the systems in place to deter corruption in state government. The report offers a different perspective on some of the issues in the sphere of an auditor’s work. Oregon didn’t fare well this year, 44th among the 50 states, and the allegations against former governor Kitzhaber were a key element in the scoring. Oregon’s F grade was not unique, with thirteen other states flunking, and only three earning better than a D+.

Oregon_rank

Considerable effort goes into the evaluation. Each state undergoes an in-depth analysis by a reporter or researcher familiar with that state. I was interviewed by Lee van der Voo about our auditing responsibilities and activities and she also obtained other viewpoints.

One gauge of integrity is the presence of laws related to the 13 evaluated categories. While I think that laws can be an important element of clean government, the absence of a law should not be equated with a lack of ‘integrity’.

As we all know, the law and a structure of enforcement are not always a sufficient deterrent to criminal behavior.  Government ethics laws are common, and commonly broken. Some ethicists argue that it is more effective to characterize good behaviors than to try to define all prohibited activities.

Ms. van der Voo seems to recognize Oregon’s values in her title “Land of ethics, manners hurt by rare scandal.” When I looked at our Washington neighbor’s rankings, the reporter stated that, “A 2012 report by the University of Illinois at Chicago, for instance, concluded that only Oregon had a lower per-capita rate for federal corruption convictions.”

I think public officials should examine the deficiencies identified in this review, but I would also caution that additional laws may not necessarily improve Oregon’s integrity if there exists a higher expectation among its citizens, government employees, and elected officials.

Auditing grade

I hated whiners in school who appealed a grade, so instead I’ll look at why we didn’t get an “A” and figure out what would improve the grade next time.

Foremost, it is gratifying to see that the C+ for the auditing section was the best grade, from these very tough graders, for Oregon. (Electoral Oversight and State Budgeting got Cs.)

I continue to cringe though when I see the category name ‘Internal audit’ for us. I actually had several conversations and emails with the director and reporter, trying to educate them about the categories of auditing. I explained that an internal auditor often answers to the executive of an agency, which can affect what topic is selected and whether the results will ever be released. I urged them to consider using the Government Auditing Standards term ‘independent’ for auditors who are elected, or answer to a legislature. It is obvious I was not persuasive. (Even ‘Audit Oversight’ would be an improvement.)

Below is a breakdown of the factors and scores that comprise the C+ grade. The factors have links on the website with some discussion and sources of information.

internal_auditing

“In law, the leadership of the audit entity is protected from political interference”: I understand the group’s intent and I don’t think there is much we could do to raise this score. We follow the national Government Audit Standards which assures objectivity and independence. The Secretary of State is the state auditor as set out in the Oregon Constitution and is protected from political interference. I wonder whether there might be some inconsistencies between scorers. The score for Washington’s elected state auditor is ‘yes’ and describes a structure very much like ours. I don’t know what protections are afforded Washington’s Audits Director but it may be different the position in Oregon, which is ‘at will.’

Washington’s overall internal auditor score is B+. While we did worse on the leadership issue above, we got 100s in the next two, better than Washington’s 75s, regarding the practical aspects of independence and sufficient funding.

Oregon got a 75 on government action of audit findings. We get about 80% implementation of our recommendations so this coincidentally aligns with the score. Incidentally, I think it is tricky to place a big value on this statistic because the content of recommendations can vary drastically. Some may be simple adjustments for an agency, others may require substantial resources and time to accomplish. We can get 100% action on trivial recommendations that are easily implemented. The most important dimension is difficult to measure: the benefit of the audit recommendations for Oregonians.

“In law, the audit agency is required to report on its investigations, activities, and advisory opinions.” I think I may have misunderstood the question and we could raise this score next time. In fact, we are required by law (ORS 197.180) to produce an annual Hotline report on our investigations, which is on our website. I’m not sure what ‘activities’ or ‘advisory opinions’ mean, but we if we do them, we would report on them. (If ‘activities’ and ‘advisory opinions’ refer to consulting-type services, we don’t do those, because that would violate our audit standards.)

“In law, citizens can access audit reports.” Again, perhaps more discussion of the reporting requirements imposed upon us by our audit standards could raise the score next time. We are required by state law to follow those standards and they require we widely distribute our audit reports. All our reports are on our website, accessible to everyone, and we make our workpapers public once the audit is complete.

Lastly, the ‘open data format’ is a category that puzzles me. Wikipedia identifies a number of formats that meet those standards and the pdf format of our audits is listed as acceptable. We ensure that our pdf reports are ADA compliant, and no one has ever complained about difficulties accessing our audits. As technologies advance we will continue to examine ways to publish our audit reports, and keep this criterion in mind.

So, next time we’re contacted, we’ll compare our structure to Washington’s to see if that will bring our score up. We’ll cite ORS 177.180 which requires that we report our Hotline investigations annually to the Legislature.  We’ll also point to our audit standards on audit reporting requirements to see if that might improve the score.

Gary Blackmer OAD Director

Gary Blackmer
OAD Director

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