The Center’s mission is to promote excellence in local and state governments so they can attract and retain talented public servants.

With an aging workforce and powerful demographic forces, we cannot assume that state and local governments will be able to attract and retain the talent they need to operate in an increasingly complex world.

It is vital to democracy that we have a public service dedicated to excellence.

State and local governments, now more than ever, are looking for innovative ways to meet their financial obligations and contain costs. At the same time, they must become employers of choice to be able to attract and retain the talent that can deliver high quality services for their communities.

In the past, wages and benefits were a selling point in attracting the best and brightest people to work in government.

But today there is a great need for information on what is most important to current and prospective state and local government employees. There are also gaps in knowledge about how to improve organizational and individual performance.

The Center for State and Local Government Excellence:

  • examines the critical issues
  • gathers accurate data
  • identifies promising practices
  • produces first-class research and training products.

With funding from the ICMA Retirement Corporation (ICMA-RC), the Center’s initial work focused
on public employee pensions and retiree health care benefits and their costs.

Tough issues face public sector employers and taxpayers today.

What are smart employers doing to finance pensions and pay for retiree health care?

What compensation packages will be attractive to the next generation of state and local government employees?

How can state and local governments become competitive employers and build capacity?

The Center’s unique role

There is increasing media scrutiny of public employee pensions and retiree health care benefits and their costs, but relatively few practitioners or academics doing research in these areas.

The Center fills that gap.

  • We bring state and local government leaders together with respected researchers.
  • Our research agenda is shaped by real-world needs.
  • We translate serious research into products policy leaders, practitioners, and elected leaders can use to make informed decisions.
  • We identify and promote best practices.

Center activities

  • Direct, conduct, and support research on state and local government employee compensation, health care, retirement benefits, and demographics.
  • Commission public opinion polling to determine links between these benefits and the attractiveness of working for a state or local government, along with organizational performance improvements.
  • Disseminate our findings through news events, meetings, conferences, webcasts, an electronic
    newsletter, and publications that showcase major research studies, best practices, and case studies.
  • Educate governments and their employees about the importance of financial security and provides
    information and tools to help them make good decisions about their retirement savings and health care benefits.
  • Create and support professional development programs to supplement those of state and local governments, initially in the area of financial planning for retirement.
  • Evaluate professional development programs to improve their effectiveness and makes the results available to public sector decision makers.