National Partnership for Reinventing Government
(formerly National Performance Review)
An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On
Washington, D.C.--Vice President Gore today outlined six steps that will transform how the federal government operates in a balanced budget world. He unveiled the next phase of reinventing government in an address to the National Press Club. Citing bipartisan consensus, the Vice President said the question is not whether to balance the budget, but how. "The budget will be balanced," he said. "Everybody better get used to that fact."
Kudos for Federal Workers
The Vice President praised federal workers for what they have done to reinvent government. He went beyond his prepared text to call attention to their help, ideas, and leadership. He said that some of the most talented people he has ever met are in the civil service. "But we haven't just shrunk the government. In partnership with federal employees, we've actually made it work better," he said. "But we're not done. The balanced budget has raised the bar from where it was just three years ago."
He said that government will take steps to achieve the following objectives :
Performance Based Organizations--Although some parts of government--like making public policy or enforcing regulations--cannot be measured by business standards, the Vice President said, "Much of government can, and should, operate more like a top-notch business." He proposed creating several Performance Based Organizations, or PBOs, within existing departments--an innovation that would require Congressional action. PBOs would be run by chief executives who sign contracts and would be personally accountable for delivering results--or be fired. Red tape, hiring barriers, and budget restrictions would be relaxed for these organizations, which would also separate their policy function from service operations. Legislation is now moving through Congress to convert the Patent and Trademark Office in Commerce into a PBO. (He also announced a contest to find a catchy name for the PBOs. See below.)
Visible Improvements in Customer Service--The government's customer service initiative would be stepped up, led by eleven "Vanguard" agencies and building on the customer service standards now in place in more than 200 agencies. (The standards are on the Internet at www.whitehouse.gov.)"We've challenged all agencies by setting a goal that 'everyone in America will know' that government service is better," the Vice President said. The President's Vanguard agencies are those with the most public contact: OSHA, IRS, EPA, Forest Service, Park Service, Customs, Immigration and Naturalization, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, VA, State's Passport Services, and Social Security.
He drew applause when he said federal workers were redesigning the telephone "blue pages" so that "you'll be able to look under 'P' for passports, not 'S' for State Department."
Regulatory Partnerships--"We've going to make partnerships with the private sector the rule, not the exception," the Vice President said. He noted the successes of such partnerships as OSHA's Maine 200 and EPA's XL, Green Lights, and 33/50 that focus on results rather than processes. These programs are working because many corporate leaders share the same goals as government and are interested in working cooperatively to achieve them, he said.
New Partnerships with Communities-- Every time a grant program comes up for reauthorization, the Vice President said the Administration will ask Congress to turn it into a performance partnership and, if necessary, consolidate it with other programs. "We will shift their focus from process to performance. Together, federal, state, and local governments will set the goals; then, communities will decide how to meet them," he said. The Administration will also enter into agreements with States to create these new partnerships, like the "Oregon Option" in 1994 to promote healthier children and more stable families, and this year in Connecticut to improve and revitalize the State's poorest communities.
Single Points of Contact--Over the next year, Housing and Urban Development will appoint a single federal point of contact for every community with more than 150,000 people. The contact will be a focal point for dealing with community issues, regardless of what federal agencies are involved. "We're going to give the nameless, faceless bureaucrat a name and a face," the Vice President said.
Federal Workforce Transformation--One size personnel system doesn't fit all in business, and it doesn't fit in government either, the Vice President said. He expects bipartisan support for legislation that will be submitted to vastly expand the demonstration authority in civil service law. The new law would allow many agencies to design personnel systems suited to their mission, including authority to recruit and hire for all positions.
The Vice President's speech is on the Internet at www.npr.gov. (Go to "newsroom." You'll also find a short fact sheet and a policy document, "Reinvention's Next Steps," that contains background papers supporting the speech.) For hard copies, fax your name and mailing address to NPR Help Desk, (202) 632-0390.
"We realize that PBO isn't a very catchy name," the Vice President said of one of the government innovations that he announced in his policy address on March 4. He announced a contest on the Internet at www.npr.gov so you can help decide the name.
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