Student Fellowship

Assessing the Impact of Fiscal Policies on City Hiring Practices

Project Area:

Fiscal and Financial Planning


Honolulu, Hawaii

Reporting to:

Managing Director

The Challenge

To improve and transform the provision of core city services, the Mayor has prioritized hiring across all 26 departments. In a city government with nearly 10,000 employees, vacancy rates in city departments, offices, and divisions currently run between 10% and 50%. According to city officials, hiring is a unique challenge for the island given the high cost of living, an aging workforce, and the island’s relative geographic isolation. However, city officials see an opportunity in improvements to internal processes, data systems, coordination, and communication between departments, particularly the Department of Human Resources and the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services which is responsible for the city’s organizational charts (used to allocate budgets to positions). Through improved processes and systems, city officials also aim to optimize their ability to compete against other employers, develop diverse candidate pipelines, identify and eliminate biases, reduce bureaucracy in their workplace hiring practices, and develop better metrics for measuring progress. 

The fellow working alongside Honolulu officials will help answer these key questions: 

  • How can Honolulu’s Department of Budget and Fiscal Services (BFS) policies, rules and processes be adjusted and streamlined to facilitate hiring? 
  • How can the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services collaborate with the Department of Human Resources to improve the City’s ability to recruit, hire and retain personnel? 
  • Which policies, practices and rules including, but not limited to, BFS policies, practices and rules can be revised without affecting the integrity of the city’s fiscal position?

What You’ll Do

Working out of the Office of the Mayor and the Office of the Managing Director and engaging closely with the leadership teams of the Department of Budget and Fiscal Services and the Department of Human Resources, the fellow will:

  • Map existing organizational structure(s), approval processes, flows of information and data to identify current challenges and opportunities to update existing processes, policies, practices, rules, data systems, and organizational charts.
  • Conduct research on promising practices deployed by other cities for improving these internal processes and revising organizational charts, and the sharing of best practices.
  • Interview key stakeholders including the Mayor, Managing Director, Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, Department of Human Resources and other Department heads to understand their perspectives on what works and does not work and solutions.
  • Produce recommendations with supporting data, information, and analyses - with a focus on the city’s fiscal policies, practices and rules - to refine and streamline current workflows.
  • Devise strategies for communicating suggested modifications and updates in the process, policies, practices and rules, to stakeholders and department personnel.
  • Engage with and leverage ongoing cross-departmental efforts around hiring policies, practices and rules as part of the Bloomberg Harvard Innovation Track. 

Related deliverables to be defined in concert with the fellow would likely include the following: A process map with research on organizational structure(s), approval processes, and flow of information/data; key insights from stakeholder interviews and promising practices research; final report summarizing key findings and recommendations for process improvements, updates to City policies, practices and rules, shared data systems, and internal communication.

What You’ll Bring

The fellow will be expected to possess the following skills and experience:

  • Data analysis 
  • Qualitative interviewing and analysis
  • Policy analysis 
  • Design thinking
  • Writing and editing 
  • Knowledge of organizational structure, workflow and processes, efficiency and effectiveness improvement, and shared database systems
  • Understanding of fiscal and budgetary policies
  • Respect, kindness and warmth in all interactions with City officials and key personnel.
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