The Clinton administration's National Partnership for Reinventing
Government (NPR) has set four priorities for what may be its final year
The NPR's four goals are improving citizen satisfaction with federal
services, expanding Internet-based government, boosting interagency
cooperation and "embedding reinvention in the culture of
government," said Morley Winograd, director of NPR.
Winograd said the leaders of NPR have begun thinking about what will
happen to their organization next year when a new administration takes
power, but said no final decisions have been made. In the meantime, NPR
aims to convince federal employees and managers that reinvention
strategies, from labor-management partnerships to plain language writing
to customer-focused operations, are worth continuing in the future. The
most satisfied employees in government work in agencies that have taken
the reinvention effort seriously, Winograd said.
In addition, NPR hopes to increase the average federal agency score
on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which both private
companies and government organizations use to gauge the quality of their
work. NPR wants to raise the government's average score on the ASCI's
100-point scale from 69 in 1999 to 72, the average score for private
One way to do that is to offer more services via the Internet, and
NPR will seek to expand "electronic government" initiatives,
including Web portals such as Access America for Students, from which
college-age students can access information from various agencies. NPR
will also seek to improve interagency cooperation offline. For example,
the organization is coordinating an interagency effort on reducing gun
Virginia Thomas, senior fellow for government studies at the Heritage
Foundation, said NPR has lost focus from its original mission, which,
she says, was to look at "every single government program and
agency to find and eliminate things that don't need to be done by the
"They really haven't done that analysis and asked those tough
questions," Thomas said. "They can't claim credit for reducing
the size or functions of government. I'm sure there are some small
achievements that would not have happened had the Vice President not
focused so many people and so many resources. I just can't think of any
In a statement, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by
Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., echoed Thomas' criticism of NPR's efforts.
The committee also said NPR should focus on improving federal programs
designated as high-risk by the General Accounting Office and make sure
agencies have meaningful performance measures.
"Clearly, the government has too much on its plate now to do it
all well," the committee said. "We must take a comprehensive
and fresh look at the current crazy quilt of government agencies and
After seven years in existence, NPR claims credit for downsizing the
federal workforce by 350,000 positions and improving government
efficiency to the tune of $137 billion in savings. The General
Accounting Office disputes the latter figure.
Vice President Al Gore's campaign literature touts those successes
and others, and says that reinvention would continue if he is elected.
"Al Gore wants to finish the job of transforming government for
the Information Age, and getting rid of all the waste and redundancy. It
is one of the primary reasons he is running for President," the
But if Gore doesn't win the presidency, the future of reinvention is
"If anyone other than Al Gore sits in the Oval Office in January
2001, one of the new President's early acts will be to abolish the
National Partnership for Reinventing Government," University of
Wisconsin scholar Don Kettl wrote in the
January issue of Government Executive. "However, that
will have to lead to its re-creation (under a different name) soon
thereafter. The pressures for reforming federal management won't
Mark Abramson, director of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for
the Business of Government, said he is surprised that NPR is maintaining
a high energy level into the final year of the Clinton administration.
"They're still going strong and really want to solidify their
gains," Abramson said.