An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On
National Performance Review Project Director Bob Stone recently addressed 45 corporate executives, all of whom had heard of the Administration's initiative to reinvent government, and 73 percent had heard a lot about it. "Even better, more than half said they or someone close to them had directly experienced a change for the better in the way government works," Bob said.
He spoke about the National Performance Review to the National Roundtable on Quality, an annual meeting of national leaders of the quality movement. Most of those who attended were vice presidents or directors of quality for major corporations-GM, Westinghouse, Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Texaco, Corning, Coca-Cola, and others.
"The conference center had electronic polling equipment, so I questioned the audience as I went along," Bob said.
It's been about 4 months since President Clinton asked Vice President Gore to begin the second phase of the National Performance Review. What's happening?
So far, 10 of the 25 largest federal agencies have proposed major restructuring and streamlining initiatives that the President has announced. Others will follow in the weeks ahead. Many of the initiatives foster a realignment of the federal relationship with states, localities, and tribes. "These reforms represent savings of $37 billion over the next 5 years," said John Kamensky, NPR's Deputy Director. "Plus, we have $7.7 billion in new revenue from the Federal Communication Commission's sale of wireless licenses."
Regulatory reform is well underway, according to NPR's Greg Woods. "Regulators are doing what the President requested," he said. "In April and May officials are getting out of Washington and holding grass roots meetings with front line regulators and the people they regulate." So far, about 50 agencies have completed or planned more than 250 meetings all over the country. All regulatory agencies (about 65 in all) are expected to meet the President's June 1 deadline of reporting what regs they are going to get rid of and what they are going to do with those that are left, Greg indicated. "The idea is to change the entire regulatory culture from emphasizing punishment to emphasizing partnership with those being regulated."
Agencies continue to build on the successes of the first phase of reinventing government. More than 150 agencies are implementing their new customer service standards. Agencies without standards are now developing them.
Social Security Streamlines
The Check Will Be There for New Beneficiaries, But Not in the Same Way or on the Same Day for Everyone
While the President and Social Security Commissioner Shirley Chater commemorated the life of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the 50th anniversary of his death in Warm Springs, GA on April 12, Vice President Gore announced in Washington, DC, reinvention initiatives for the Social Security Administration. "Social Security is one of FDR's most important legacies to the nation," the Vice President said. The proposals the Vice President unveiled will provide a "system ready for the next century, providing world class service to its customers."
The reforms are also expected to save $850 million from FY 1997 to FY 2000. Among other things, SSA plans to:
- Stagger payments for new beneficiaries€about 3.5 million each year€throughout the month instead of the traditional third day of each month. This change will eliminate workload spikes for SSA, as well as the banking and business communities, and mean better customer service without adding staff.
- Improve its 1-800 service. The agency has met with some of the country's top-rated customer telephone service companies to learn the best ways the agency can provide world class service.
- Increase direct deposit/electronic transfers. More than 40 percent of all beneficiaries are still paid by check. Direct deposit would save $70 million a year in postage and handling lost checks.
- Offer one-stop, electronic benefit applications through large employers. This option would allow workers to apply for a company pension, Social Security, and Medicare at the same time.
- Require all employers, except for those who employ only household workers, to file W-2 wage reports electronically or on magnetic tape.
The Unfunded Mandate Reform Act of 1995 includes a provision that will make it significantly easier for federal agencies to partner with states, localities, and tribes, according to Beverly Godwin who leads NPR's Federalism Team.
"Members of the House and Senate who conferred on the new law recognized that federal officials have been confused about the extent to which they may meet with other jurisdictions to discuss regulatory and other issues involving areas of shared responsibility," Bev said. The source of the confusion is the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).
"Section II, Section 204 (b) of the Unfunded Mandated Reform Act exempts certain meetings from the FACA. Now federal officials may meet with state, local and tribal officials (or their designated employees) to exchange views, information, or advice relating to the management or implementation of federal programs that share intergovernmental responsibilities or administration." The new act was signed by the President on March 22.
For a faxed copy of the provision, leave a message for Bev at (202) 632-0150, ext. 111.
For more information, contact Pat Wood, Communications Team, National Performance Review, 750-17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006. Phone: (202) 632-0150, ext. 102; FAX: (202) 632-0390; email: email@example.com.. We ask federal editors and communicators to help spread the word about REGO II in your internal publications and email.