|July 9, 1997, Vol. 3, No. 7|
On Kamarck's watch, federal agencies developed more than 3,000 customer service standards, almost 300 reinvention labs improved procurement, timekeeping, and travel processes, and regulatory agencies used common sense and partnership instead of inflexible processes and penalties for companies willing to cooperate--and thousands have. Reforms have saved $118 billion and, as of January 1, 1997, the federal workforce has about 309,000 fewer employees. All of this adds up to a government that works better and costs less. NPR rewarded success one step at a time, presenting Hammer Awards to more than 900 self-directed federal teams and their external partners.
In her goodbye remarks to NPR, Kamarck, whose father is a retired Social Security employee, urged staff to build on these "reinvention islands" to help officials reinvent whole agencies. She urged NPR to focus on helping agencies comply with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, often called "the Results Act." "We will miss Elaine," said Bob Stone, "but she leaves a good model for us. The reinvention revolution will continue."
The Act is "not a once in a life time activity--it's a process of evolution." A strategic plan that doesn't change over the next three or four years is "virtually useless." Taking risks is what reinvention is all about, he said. "We know we are going to make mistakes."
He urged reinventors to ask three "pesky" questions about how government operates:
We have a range of options, he said--another agency, the private sector, a partnership.
Are we doing the work in the most efficient way possible?
"The most important word in management is 'communication,'" he said, "and it's a two-way street." He told managers to listen to employees, otherwise "you're going to lose some of the most important information....If you have power, you have to be willing to give it up." It's the way "to harness the power and enthusiasm of the people." The "ultimate performance standard" is that the statute will go away. "If we're good, we'll automatically apply the principles behind the Act." These should not be abstract principles: "It is important for people to understand how their work supports the purpose of their organization," he concluded.
To learn more about reinvention efforts, visit NPR's web site: www.npr.gov. Click on "Managing for Results" to get information and resources related to the Results Act.
NPR Deputy Greg Woods accepted the award and read a letter from the Vice President that gave credit to federal employees for the "tremendous job" they are doing. "It is the federal employees who, working in partnership with industry, are reinventing government procurement day in and day out," the Vice President said.
The Coalition is a trade association representing more than 300 companies. Its members are responsible for nearly half of all commercial product sales to the federal government. The Coalition has given the award only five other times in its 19-year history. For more information about the award, contact Larry Allen, Executive Director of the Coalition, at (202) 331-0975.