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ASPA (Still) on the Move!

This article was published in the
March/April 2011 print edition of PA TIMES. Email Editor Christine
McCrehin at [email protected] for information on how to subscribe to
the paper.

Meredith Newman

Past President Don Klingner told me, during the 2010 ASPA Annual Conference in San José, that my year as president would go quickly. He was right–the officers, staff, volunteers and I have definitely been on the “fast track!” Our mantra this year has been “ASPA on the Move.”

The emphasis during my term has been to build upon our rich 72-year legacy to extend ASPA’s visibility, voice and relevancy both at home and increasingly internationally, with the purpose of exchanging smart practices and academic research amongst us, and providing value-added for our members. ASPA has earned its reputation nationally, at all levels. Expanding ASPA globally builds upon our rich experience and expertise as we engage with public administrators in new ways at home and abroad.

We came together for our 2011 Annual Conference in the dynamic city of Baltimore, MD, to continue this engagement–as events in Wisconsin, Libya and Japan continued to unfold–under our conference theme, “Public Administration Without Borders.” The conference was a resounding success, even record-breaking, with over 1,100 participants from home and more than 30 countries.

Before highlighting a few of our (other) collective accomplishments this year, I want to first give thanks–to our extraordinary Executive Director Toni Samuel and her dedicated and professional staff–Matt, Duanne, Pat, Judy, Jeannie, Christine, Amy, Carlos, and Calvin; to our team of officers–Paul, Erik, Tom and Steve; to our National Council, including our Student Representative Jose Irizarry and International Director Allan Rosenbaum; to our SIG leadership; to our Honorary Conference Co-Chairs Walter Broadnax and Cam Stivers; to Maria Aristigueta and Geert Bouckaert, conference program co-chairs, for developing such a strong, diverse and rich program; and to our past presidents, many of whom continue to work as hard as ever.

The state of ASPA is strong. Despite the economic downturn, ASPA continues to operate in the black. With a budget of over $1.5 million, 80 active chapters, 8,000 plus members at home and in over 70 countries, 24 sections, 16 MOUs, 3 Standing Committees, the ASPA Endowment, a highly successful conference in San José last year, and in Baltimore a few weeks ago (which broke a number of records, including attendance and fund raising), our ASPA publications (which continue to be among the best in the world) and a flawless leadership succession illustrate our association’s strength. Let’s continue to tell our story and celebrate our collective achievements, while keeping our eye on opportunities for improvement.

I would like to report briefly on our collective work this year, including our SIG accomplishments. We have a tradition of smooth officer transition. We work closely together as a team, with the staff and volunteers, to advance public administration, public service and good governance at home and abroad. Looking back over my term, I am most proud of the relationships and partnerships we have strengthened and developed at home and abroad–including NASPAA, NAPA, IIAS, IASIA, EGPA, IPAA, NISPAcee, and KAPA.

Our historic joint seminar in Beijing, hosted by the Chinese Academy of Governance (practitioners involved in training of high level civil servants in China at the national and provincial levels) was the background for our first International Assembly in Baltimore. Paul Posner’s policy engagement continues apace, and the ASPA policy paper “Moving Towards a More Strategic Federal Pay Comparability Policy” (co-authored by Jared Llorens and Christine Ledvinka Rush) is receiving significant attention at the highest levels of government. In collaboration with ASPA National, the South Florida Chapter of ASPA, under the leadership of chapter president Glenn Joseph, held an important seminar at FIU this spring to work on the development of an administrative infrastructure for a reconstructed Haiti. This work will continue over the next several years.

Along with many of you, I have been on the road representing ASPA at a number of chapter and section-sponsored events, national and international conferences including NASPAA, SECoPA, the IIAS/IASIA Joint Congress, IPAC, NISPAcee, 6TAD, EGPA, KAPA, IPAA, ICPA and the Franco-U.S. Dialogue.

So what has been the outcome of our work as ASPA ambassadors? ASPA became a member of IASIA and IIAS, we have a signed MOU with IPAA, CAG, CSOAR, NISPAcee (signed in Baltimore), the KAPA/ASPA Joint Conference this fall, a Partnership Agreement between the International Hispanic Network and ASPA, and a joint ASPA/International Comparative Policy Analysis Forum Award for the Best Comparative Paper presented at an ASPA Conference. Other officers, Toni and volunteers participated actively in the annual conferences of Texas ASPA/CPM, ABFM, NECoPA, Public Management, PATNet, and COMPA, to name a few. We held a very productive leadership retreat in Las Vegas in January.

This outreach has been facilitated and strengthened by the two Task Forces that we established last year. The Task Force on Professional Public Management (led by Howard Balanoff and Ken Matwiczak) worked towards a curriculum-based credentialing program. The Action Team for International Outreach (led by Mary Hamilton and Pan Suk Kim) worked on the establishment of ASPA’s International Chapter, developed recommendations for policies and protocols for implementing ASPA’s “Going Global” strategy and mapped the ASPA members from nations outside the United States.

ASPA Vice President Steve Condrey and his colleagues conducted a survey of current and past members, which provided ASPA with invaluable information going forward. Seven professional development webinars were conducted throughout the year. The Non-Profit Forum within ASPA was established to address the interest of our members in the area of NPM research and practice. The PA TIMES Editorial Board, Publications Committee and staff worked together to move seven monthly issues of PAT online.

The Board of Insurance Trustees was reconstituted as an affinity services board with the goal to augment financial support and resources for ASPA and renamed the Board for Financial Sustainability. The national office relocated, which will realize a significant savings to ASPA for the next five years. ASPA had a net three percent increase in membership, representing a one-year membership record. Technology upgrades were made, including new website enhancements. The ASPA Series in Public Administration and Public Policy published with Taylor & Francis released its 10th book. Fifteen previously inactive chapters are in the process of being revitalized. This impressive report card is due to the hard work of our entire leadership and volunteer teams (officers, staff, SIGs, National Council and other volunteer leaders). Congratulations!

Our annual conference was, by all accounts, a great success. Amongst the highlights: Congressman Steny Hoyer, MD State Treasurer Nancy Kopp, our Welcome Reception (with thanks and appreciation to Local Host Committee Co-Chairs Ann Cotton and Christine Spencer of the University of Baltimore). Theirs was an inspired idea–to hold the reception at Camden Yards–and their tireless commitment to making it the “best Welcome Reception ever” was unwavering.

Our conference award recipients, including those from the Social Equity Luncheon, SWPA Breakfast and our National Public Service Award recipients, remind us that public services, especially human services, are fundamentally about improving people’s lives. As Ana Dineen (the recipient of this year’s Gloria Hobson Nordin Social Equity Award) said, “let’s keep our eyes on the prize.” The Elliot Richardson Lecturer, Admiral Thad Allen, spoke of the importance of figuring out “how to interrupt the supply train of trouble.” He referred to “mental leadership,” and the importance of reconciling opportunity and competency. The Stone Lecturer, Geert Bouckhaert, focused his remarks on “Ethics and Trust in Government,” and suggested that we may be entering a new golden age for public administration. The opportunities for networking included university and other sponsored receptions, and the Dance Party, which I heard was a great success!

I would like to end by thanking Florida International University for their generous financial support, and to my family (Herb, Bess and Will) for their loving support. My last act as president is to break with tradition–my colleagues have said that the best job in the world is ASPA past president. I disagree–the best job in the world is as president! I know that Erik Bergrud will lead our association with imagination and energy, and I look forward to continuing to work with him. Our next strategic framework of Voice, Influence, (Re)Source, Interdisciplinary and leverage Technology (VISIT) will ensure that ASPA continues its forward and upward movement–ASPA is (still) on the Move!

ASPA member Meredith Newman is the Society’s out-going president and a professor and director of the department of public administration at Florida International University. Email: [email protected]

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