National Partnership for Reinventing Government
(formerly National Performance Review)
An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On
No matter what your age, would you like to know how much you've paid into Social Security and how much you can expect in benefits when you retire or if you become disabled? The Social Security Administration has provided this service for years, but recently the agency put the request form online on their home page. In the past, people had to call an 800 number to get the request form mailed or go by a Social Security office to pick it up.
Until security issues are resolved, SSA will continue to mail back the Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statement (PEBES). Here's what their online customers are saying:
- "...What a wonderful world!...this will be even better when the results can be e-mailed back."
- "Form was easy to fill out. Very pleased with your efforts. Who really had time to stop at the local social security office to get this type of information? As much as it's a good idea, I've never made it a priority for this reason."
- "Overall, my experience with the IRS online, and now the SSA, has developed a feeling of accessibility. I am very pleased, and feel that I am in touch with the government of this great country, a feeling I've never had before (long lines, red tape, frustration)...This accessibility is the greatest improvement I've seen in my 44 years as a citizen. Don't stop."
- "Great! East to fill out. Your time estimate was high. (Editor's note: 5 minutes) I have always wanted to get one of these but never knew where to pick up a form."
- "This is too easy. Is this a trick or something?"
- "This is what government should be about on behalf of its constituents..."
- "Terrific. I love America."
If you want to request a PEBES online, SSA's web address is http://www.ssa.gov. To find out more about SSA's online initiatives, contact Bruce Carter at (410) 965-7232 or email: Bruce W. Carter@ssa.gov or John Sabo at (410) 965-1550 or email: John.T.Sabo@ssa.gov.
One out of three American families now holds an investment in mutual funds or the stock market, directly or through defined contribution retirement plans. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is reinventing its operations to reach out and educate this huge influx of new investors into the securities market in recent years.
This bottom-up approach is in addition to its enforcement role for stock exchanges, broker-dealers, investment companies, and others. "We are educating investors so as to reduce the need for government intervention on their behalf," said SEC spokesman John Heine.
The SEC received a record 3,700 responses from investors when it asked for better ways to convey the risks of mutual funds. Here are some of the SEC's new activities:
- Town Meetings. The SEC has held 13 town meetings across the country, reaching about 8,480 investors directly and an estimated 3.5 million through TV and videotape.
- Brochures. The Commission has distributed more than 400,000 "Invest Wisely" brochures since March 1994.
- Toll-Free Line. The SEC has received more than 100,000 calls to the toll-free line it created in October 1994 to answer commonly-asked questions. The number is 1-800-SEC-0330.
- WWW Site. The SEC created a site on the World Wide Web in October 1995 that got more than 2 million hits in the first two months. The site (http://www.sec.gov) has speeches, congressional testimony, rule proposals, news releases, investor alerts, and more. The SEC also has placed its EDGAR database of corporate information on the Web, allowing investors to access and download the disclosure documents of public companies.
- Plain English Pubs. The Commission is encouraging mutual fund companies to use plain English in their prospectuses and to use a new "Fund Profile" that summarizes salient information in a format that invites comparison with other funds.
For more information about the SEC's investor education program, call (202) 942-7040.
The General Accounting Office published a report in March based upon the findings of a survey faxed to 185 reinvention labs and visits to 12 labs. "What we found was extremely encouraging," said Curtis Copeland, Assistant Director for GAO's Federal Management and Workforce issues. However, he said the full value will only be realized when the operational improvements the labs tested are spread all over the government. Many of the labs are working in personnel management, procurement systems, and new technology to improve operations.
The report, Management Reform, Status of Agency Reinvention Lab Efforts, noted two areas for improvement: lab intercommunication and data collection. Most of the labs reported they did not have a substantial amount of communication with each other nor with the National Performance Review. GAO said that some labs' lack of objective data collection made it hard to measure the true success of their efforts. While two-thirds of the respondents consistently collected data, and 80 percent reported that the "labs had improved service, productivity, and employee morale," other labs collected only anecdotes or informal comments.
NPR reinvention lab coordinator Jeffrey Goldstein said NPR is creating more opportunities for labs to communicate with each other, including a new Internet database that will be added to NPR's Web home page in the coming months.
To get a free copy of the report (GAO/GGD-96-69), call GAO at (202) 512- 6000, or fax (301) 258-4066, or TDD (301) 413-0006. For more information about the 238 reinvention labs in operation over the country, call Jeffrey Goldstein at (202) 632-0387.
Subscribe to Reinvention Express--It's Free
To subscribe to Reinvention Express by email, send an email message to:Listproc@etc.fed.gov with this message:
SUBSCRIBE EXPRESS-L FIRSTNAME LASTNAME. (Put three spaces: after the word "SUBSCRIBE," after "EXPRESS-L," and after your FIRSTNAME.)
For fax distribution, send your name, organization and fax number to Pat Wood, National Performance Review, 750-17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 632-0223; FAX: (202) 632-0390; email: email@example.com. The Express is also on the Internet at http://www.npr.gov.