When people talk about economic growth, they generally focus on the private sector. They think about job creation numbers, payroll levels and consumer spending. And while it is true that these factors certainly affect the private economy and dictate much about people's lives, they are not the only aspects of the economy that lead to prosperity. Properly run public departments—particularly public safety systems—have a crucial effect.
Technology advances at a fairly rapid pace in the private sector. Companies are in tight competition with each other, and they need to keep up with investments in this area to stay that way.
Voters and public officials are constantly making decisions about the services that their municipalities offer. Sometimes, groups will make the case for funding increases and program expansions on the basis of better service. Other times, groups will call for cuts to reduce what they see as budgetary waste.
Having 'intelligent' workforce management software that not only tracks employee staffing, but also provide full-time equivalency calculations is an excellent means to achieve budget-based scheduling. This provides an excellent data-driven resource for the future staffing levels. It also helps lawmakers and taxpayers understand how funds are being used by agencies and acts as a foundation for funding justifications.
When you house hundreds—sometimes thousands—of convicted criminals in one building, effective prison management is critical to the safety of inmates, workers and the surrounding community. Prisoners must be kept in conditions that will hold them securely, without violating their basic constitutional rights. Meanwhile, the municipal, state and federal agencies that oversee prisons must ensure that the buildings are properly staffed in a way that maintains compliance with these standards.
Since the last recession, public sector spending has been held back by the federal government, as well as states and municipalities, as they try to compensate for lower revenues. As a result, the number of public sector jobs has fallen since 2008 and still hasn't recovered.
For public safety agencies, rapid response is critical to a job well done. But it isn't just a matter of pride—in the event of natural disasters, quick response times can mean the difference between life and death for hundreds, if not thousands of people.
Public safety agencies have limited budgets and they must consider the effects of overtime pay carefully. On one hand, certain municipalities may determine that it is more financially feasible to hire more personnel when the need arises. On the other hand, some may find that this is prohibitively expensive, especially when it is off-season and there is less work to do. In that case, it is generally decided to pay an existing employee overtime wages.
In the public sector, as is equally true in private industry, problems can occur when doing things the way they have always been done. Though this can often feel like an easy solution, it only leads to inefficiency and eventually increased costs.
Orion gratefully acknowledges the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, for allowing us to reproduce, the video "Protecting our Protectors: Using Science to Improve Officer Safety and Wellness". The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this video are those of the speaker(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.