National Governors Association Reviews | Glassdoor

National Governors Association Reviews

Updated March 31, 2017
12 reviews

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3.6
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  1. "Research Intern"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Recommends

    Pros

    Good pay for an internship ($15 per hour), especially when most internships in DC are unpaid. Great opportunities to work on high level projects, lots of autonomy for an internship, and friendly and helpful staff. The internship seminars and other events were fun too!

    Cons

    Sometimes I had too little to do or would have an assignment with several weeks to do it, so the days tended to drag on at times. But that's pretty typical of an internship.


  2. "Good Access"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at National Governors Association full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Great learning experience navigating state and federal political issues. Good team atmosphere.

    Cons

    Very political depending on current chair. Some gruff management

    Advice to Management

    Increase salaries, foster an environment that is less reactionary


  3. Helpful (11)

    "A Strong Public Policy Organization with Some Drawbacks"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Senior Policy Analyst in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Senior Policy Analyst in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at National Governors Association full-time

    Pros

    The workplace culture among the policy analyst staff is great, and many of the projects we conduct and reports we produce are high quality and rewarding--especially working directly with the people implementing the policy research.

    Cons

    The focus is on research synthesis rather than quantitative analysis, which sometimes seems to undercut the level of rigor and the impact of the recommendations. Much of policy analyst time is spent on project management tasks rather than research and analysis. Managers tend to be technical experts, so management tasks like staff development and organizational mission often fall by the wayside. The pay scale is mediocre, uneven, and opaque, leading to high turnover. Most policy analysts seem to stay for less than 3 years. The leadership is currently comprised entirely of old white men.

    Advice to Management

    Your staff are highly skilled professionals with top shelf masters degrees who put in 50-hour weeks and shoulder incredible amounts of responsibility, such as managing multimillion-dollar multiyear grants and contracts and briefing high-level state officials. Rather than pegging your salaries to the lowest common denominator of peer institutions (many think tanks in DC pay admittedly worse), why not raise the bar and pay your staff more.


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  5. "Good best practices and typical interning experience"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Intern in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at National Governors Association part-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Work regularly with policy analysts in a variety of auxiliary tasks necessary for aiding analysts ranging from writing, editing, researching and attending presentations

    Cons

    no major cons working with this organization


  6. Helpful (8)

    "Ossified and wasteful organization with entrenched management"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Policy Analyst in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Policy Analyst in Washington, DC
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at National Governors Association full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The Health and Education programs are efficient, smart, well staffed and competent.

    Hours are humane.

    Benefits are good. Pay is very good for non-profit.

    There is a new executive director since I left, and he brought in a few competent senior execs from the GAO. I hope this cleans up the accountability of the policy-side of the organization.

    The events team is truly exceptional, the media team seems effective. As for the lobbying side and the other aspects of the organization, I just don't know enough to comment.

    Strategic planning training for all policy staff is superior.

    Cons

    My comments are only regarding the policy-side of the organization, where I worked for about two-and-a-half years.

    Incompetent Management. There was a lot of churn at the NGA during the time I was there. The analysts who were motivated and most intelligent became quickly dissatisfied and left (almost 100% turnover in two years). As a result of talent attrition, promotions were frequently made to the least motivated--the employees who could sit still without wanting more for the organization, their teams, and their careers. My manager proved incapable of reason and almost totally incompetent (would routinely work 4-6 hours per day with an hour-long break in the middle for exercise, failed to complete deliverables even with generous grant extensions, cancelled summits with state executives on one day's notice, would agree to answer state policy staff issues, insist on researching them personally even after offers of assistance from me, and then ultimately fail to deliver anything ). Note that I except the Health and Education programs completely--they were well organized, run properly, and had exceptionally qualified and productive teams.

    Ossified Hiring Structure. I was interviewed by three people before being hired at the NGA. One did all the talking, one was a middling interviewer, and the other was an old blowhard. This worried me in the interview process, but it didn't worry me as much as it should have. In addition to resulting in mismatched hires vs organizational needs, working with the same people who were poor interviewers was exhausting, and it really never got easier.

    Terrible Review/HR Process. Reviews are unilateral only and conducted annually, grudgingly, and haphazardly. After reviews were conducted, staff had an opportunity to comment on their review or rebut as needed. When I dropped in the HR office to speak with the manager, the manager handed me a stack of paperwork which had another employee's review and rebuttal attached, which would have been very embarrassing to them. When I expressed concern to HR regarding my manager, the advice would be given in platitudes, such as "it seems like you have a communication problem." Serious concerns were never addressed, even after repeated reasonable requests were made and assurance that the issue would be solved given.

    Really sad culture. This was a really depressing place to work. Morale was really low almost all the time. Many staff felt under appreciated, under engaged, and underutilized. Some excellent and capable minds (some of the best in the organization, IMO) produce amazing work which never gets published (even if it has already been paid for and is expected under a grant). Papers that do advance through the ridiculous review process must be reviewed by manager, next level manager, and then the second in command. They can never agree on changes but when they get tired of sending the papers back and forth, they send them to the Washington reps for all governors. Then all the Wash reps review. Any "nos" or objections require rewrites. It really is exhausting, tedious, and unnecessary.

    Note: these are my sentiments after a two year cooling off period.

    Advice to Management

    Self-awareness is a good place to start.


  7. Helpful (7)

    "Smart organization, not best for growth"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Washington, DC
    Recommends

    Pros

    NGA is a very prestigious state government association, so having it on your resume is a plus right off the bat. It is a great learning environment- you will be surrounded by experts in state policy. But you will need to take the initiative and seek it out. The people are very friendly (if busy) for the most part, so that makes is a great work environment.

    Cons

    The divisions are very segmented so there is not a lot of communication across divisions. Also, they are not good at retaining talent - I knew several employees who were bored and underutilized. Since there was no growth available at NGA, they had to leave in order to move to the next step in their careers.

    Advice to Management

    Promote better communication within the organization. Directors should have a better ideas what all other divisions are doing so that when possible they can work together.


  8. "Unique mix of think-tank, association, and "lobbying" group"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at National Governors Association full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good work environment. Large enough to have good benefits and HR, while being small enough to know most of your coworkers.

    Cons

    Lot of change occurring as part of leadership transition.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "A long way to go toward being a functional organization"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at National Governors Association full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    -Occasional meaningful policy work
    -Access to large network

    Cons

    -A negative culture, where nitpicking and mediocrity thrive
    -Extremely hierarchical
    -Not producing policy that is either innovative or demonstrates any understanding of state policy context

    Advice to Management

    -Give employees more autonomy
    -Try to innovate around policy solutions
    -Focus on your product and outcomes
    -Recognize and develop internal talent


  10. Helpful (2)

    "Smart people, chained."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at National Governors Association as an intern

    Pros

    These people are smart. Really Smart.

    Cons

    For all of the smarts in this place, work is critically dependent on foundation support (funding). This dynamic limits the concepts/areas that can be covered. No bill code, no interest. Office diversity is split between office staff (mostly black women) and policy analysts (mostly white men). Non-senior analyst do A LOT of event planning, rather than policy research/writing.

    Analysts rely on severely under powered computer stations, making multitasking inefficient.

    Advice to Management

    Diversify your workforce to better leverage fresh ideas and upgrade your computer hardware to increase productivity.


  11. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to intern"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Former Intern - Anonymous Intern
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at National Governors Association as an intern

    Pros

    They give you meaningful work as an intern

    Cons

    It often feels like an office full of people working next to each other, rather than with each other