We’re back with the new “New Sensation” feature. We’ve updated the questions based on your feedback. You’ll now learn about the best YouTube videos on the web, read about gift ideas for the holiday season, and learn about the career accomplishments of our new members. As a reminder, we developed this feature to introduce you to new ELGL members and as a way on connecting ELGL members with similar interests.
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MPA, Public Administration and University of South Carolina-Columbia, BA, Political Science
Experience: Research Associate, University of South Carolina and Analyst, GAO
Mark earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mark worked for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington, DC. While at the GAO, Mark worked on numerous projects on environmental, infrastructure, and taxation issues.
He also served as a research associate at the University of South Carolina. His main duties at the Institute included research, assistance on the indicators project, and providing technical assistance and training to South Carolina state and local governments. Mark’s professional interests are in environmental policy, public finance, and government organization.
Tell us about three of your biggest accomplishments.
Well, this is an odd one as I don’t really get the ability to take credit (or blame!) for things that happen at the General Assembly. However, I’ll list a few things that are noteworthy from this job and past jobs:
Water and Sewer Rate and Practice Survey: While working for the University of South Carolina (you west coasters may know it as “USC” – while we refer to it here merely as “Carolina”) I got to write a report that involved surveying all public water and sewer entities on management and financial practices. This was my first large research project that I was solely responsible for and I think it turned out all right. And, apparently no one had done something like this in the past for the State (that might say something about local government oversight in SC)
National Guard Facility Funding Plan: The State’s National Guard facilities are in terrible shape, which impacts recruiting, Federal troop assignments, and general operations. The problem for the State is that the Federal funding cycle and the State funding cycle do not match. I drafted legislation and developed a funding plan to help address the issue.
Being a Part of Five Budgets: Honestly, there are times where I don’t know how we’ll pass a balanced budget (normally means finding additional reductions these days) that attempts to address the needs of the State against the availability of funds, but somehow I’ve been a part of them here.
(Complete this sentence) I feel old when I……..I am asked about Twitter. And no, I’m not getting an account.
Tell us about two mistakes that you’ve made that we can learn from.
Being Too Big for My Britches: My first professional job was with the Government Accountability Office and I thought I knew everything. Heck, I thought I should be a Director. The reality is that I should have worked harder doing the grunt work and asked for help and advice instead of being so arrogant.
Not Having a Plan: One needs to have a job for basic needs, but what is really needed is to have a plan so that you know what your next job should look like and develop pathways to achieve your goals. There have been times where coasting or changing jobs seems preferable to developing yourself.
Give us three of your favorite YouTube videos
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman playing Lancaster Dodd and singing “Slow Boat to China” to Joaquin Phoenix’s character in “The Master.” It is so creepy and makes me laugh, but I also want to try this method when presenting budget information.
2. Portlandia’s “Is it Local?” skit.
3. The Tie Speech from “Rubicon” (AMC TV Series). This is such a great speech about power and influence. And, the lead character here is named Truxton Spangler – such an awesome name.
As part of being an ELGL member, we give you a chance to redo or change any part of your life. How would you use it? (Note: My life is perfect, I am perfect, I would never change anything is not an acceptable response.)
I should have taken more business courses, especially in finance. I really did not see myself in a budget related field when I was in college (undergraduate or graduate) and feel like I have had to learn a lot as I go.
Our annual conference will be held in October 2014. Name three topics or speakers that should be included on the conference agenda.
Alternative Financing: There is a large movement toward using “Public Private Partnership” methods of finance but there is very little understanding of what they are and how to evaluate them.
The Business of Government: By this I mean best practices/lessons learned from: project management (building and information technology), purchase and contract, motor fleet management, facilities management.
Lease vs. Own: How to determine what the right mix is of owned versus leased buildings.
90’s was…… Irmo High School Marching Band (Yep, no shame)
00’s was….. Embarking on my career in public service
Last year was….. Making the decision to stay in North Carolina long term
Today is….Hopefully not losing power during the third Polar Vortex of the year
Name three of your mentors and describe them in five words.
Vance Holloman, Deputy State Treasurer: quirky, dedicated, professional, knowledgeable, compassionate
Mark Trogdon, Director, Fiscal Research Division: steady, calm, dry, prescient, insightful
Bruce Bondo, Retired, Deputy Director for Policy and Planning, South Carolina Office on Aging: father, career-twin, sounding-board, co-venter, intelligent.
What’s your least favorite thing about humanity? That some people do not feel any obligation toward their fellow human
How can ELGL best contribute to the public sector?
I think ELGL can help bring disparate people together and provide lessons learned (best practices, ideas, etc.) for other folks whose organizations might be facing similar issues.
Spring break or spring training? Which is better? Spring Training. Each year I am filled with hope that my Toronto Blue Jays will return to the dominate days of Joe Carter.
Fast forward one year, what will factor into your decision on whether to renew your ELGL membership?
Is it providing useful and interesting information for my professional life?
Give us two ideas for attracting and retaining talented individuals to the public sector.
Offer Career Paths to People Straight Out of College: I feel like there are many jobs in government that require a graduate degree, but do not need an individual with graduate level knowledge. By making a graduate degree a requirement, we are missing large pools of talented people who might be otherwise interested in government but not interested in taking on additional school debt.
Invest in Employees: I think too many times organizations hire individuals and then let them sit. Organizations need to invest time into mentoring, training, and educating their employees for their future career and organizational goals.
What questions should we have asked? What was my 40 (yard dash) time?
What one question you have about ELGL? How will ELGL help serve their east coast members?
- 2013 Annotated Conference Committee Report on the Continuation, Expansion, and Capital Budgets
- An Analysis of Public Water and Sewer Providers Rates and Practices
- On Campus with the Carolina MPA Program
- MPA Alumni Make a Positive Impact on the Environment
- Immigration in South Carolina
I’m the co-founder and executive director of ELGL. I love my job. Other things I love: local government, my family, my dog Michael Jordan, sandwiches, naps, books, and skee-ball.