Quote by: Dan Singer, ICMA-CM, Retired City Manager; Special Advisor, Management Partners

Dan Singer has devoted his 27-year career to local government, serving as City Manager in three communities in California. Now a special advisor with the national consulting firm Management Partners, Dan has focused on helping organizations to be more efficient and resilient. He has written a number of articles on organizational effectiveness and talent development, pushing organizations to think outside the box and take more risks. Over the past two years he has served on the Cal-ICMA Talent Initiative Committee and is a member of the Cal-ICMA Ethics Committee. He is also a board member for the League of Women in Government.


We’ve all read the statistics. Younger people aren’t turning to the public sector for a career at the levels needed to support our organizations. When I began my public-sector career in 1991, for example, 35 percent of the workforce was said to be under the age of 30; today, only 12 percent of our organizations’ workforces are below that age. Increasingly, local governments are struggling to fill open positions and are finding it difficult to compete for talent. This is in part because our organizations are seen as sterile and lacking the innovation, creativity, and flexibility often found in the private sector. And attracting young talent is but one of the challenges local governments are facing. Of equal importance is retaining, growing, and developing our workforce and promoting the opportunities and values that exist at the municipal level. That is why workforce development and a retooling of our organizational priorities and cultures will become a necessity in the years ahead, lest we lose our ability to provide essential services to our communities and customers.

2019 Tip

Engage employees of all ages and disciplines in a meaningful discussion about how to make our organizations more dynamic, attractive, and flexible in an effort to demonstrate the purpose-driven work we do each and every day in the public arena. Be sure to check out the Cal-ICMA Talent 2.0 report for tips, tools, and strategies for enhancing, retaining, and attracting our talent pool.

Learn More

For further reading on creating more innovative local governments through culture change, read Retooling our Organizational Culture.

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