Calls For Adopting Some Characteristics of Private-Sector Companies
To Better Serve American People in Era of Fiscal Constraint
In a speech designed to help meet President Clinton's goal of protecting the priorities of the American people in a balanced budget age, Vice President Gore today (3/4) announced six ways to fundamentally change the federal government so that it works better and costs less, including adopting some characteristics of private-sector companies.
As President Clinton stated in his State of the Union address last month, the era of big government is over. For the first time in a generation, we live in a balanced budget age," said Vice President Gore in his address to the National Press Club. "The current debate is not whether to bring the budget into balance, but how. But the dusk of big government need not bring the dawn of a fend-for-yourself society.
"President Clinton and I believe that reforming the federal government to make it more effective and responsive to the American people is critical to achieving a balanced budget that protects their priorities. If we don't do these things, we'll balance the budget anyway -- but ordinary people could suffer. The question should be do we abandon the old ways of governing -- or do we abandon our values?" said Vice President Gore, who heads the National Performance Review to make the federal government work better and cost less.
After three years of successful work to downsize the federal government, streamline operations, and improve services, Vice President Gore said today that it was time to dramatically change the way many agencies provide their services. The next steps to reform government in a balanced budget age are:
Convert to Performance-Based Organizations. Give agencies that deliver measurable services a greater degree of autonomy from governmentwide rules, such as budget, personnel, and procurement rules, in exchange for greater accountability for achieving results. Convert at least a dozen agencies to this new structure in the coming year. These agencies will be run by top-flight professionals who sign contracts holding themselves personally accountable for results. Their performance will be measured by improved efficiency, reduced spending and customer service.
Improve Customer Service Dramatically. Challenge all agencies to set service goals so everyone in America will see that government service is better. The heads of the 11 agencies with the greatest customer contact are making public commitments to improve selected services; they have created World Wide Web home pages as a means for receiving direct input. The U.S. Business Advisor and a redesign of the "blue pages" in phone directories will help people quickly find needed government services.
Increase the Use of Regulator Parnterships. EPA and other agencies have successfully piloted a noncoercive partnership approach that focuses on meeting environmental goals rather than on complying with regulatory red tape. Expand existing pilots to EPA, OSHA, and other regulatory agencies so this partnership approach becomes the mainstream strategy for federal regulatory agencies.
Create Performance-Based Partnership Grants. Develop federal-state-local partnerships that are based on results rather than process. Develop goals and objectives for major programmatic areas, allow states and localities to be funded for these goals and objectives, and reduce existing federal red tape. Convert categorical grants to partnerships as they come up for reauthorization.
Establish Single Points of Contact for Communities. A major challenge for communities dealing with the federal government is untangling the complexity of its programs to determine who is responsible for what. Establish a single point of contact for the nation's larger communities.
Transform the Federal Workforce. The existing civil service system is based on the concept that "one size fits all"; it cannot respond quickly to change or to the varying needs of different organizations. Reform the civil service system, increase investment in the workforce to create "learning organizations," and give senior executives more tools and make them accountable for achieving results.
Vice President Gore announced that the Administration will submit Civil Service Reform legislation to Congress to expand current demonstration authority so that federal agencies can tailor personnel systems to meet their missions.
He also issued a challenge: True reform depends on Congress joining our efforts to overhaul the government for this new era. In a reinvented government, he said, agencies should not have to report to dozens of separate committees and subcommittees.
Since it began in 1993 at the request of President Clinton and under the direction of Vice President Gore, the work of the National Performance Review has resulted in the elimination of 16,000 pages of regulations and a reduction in the federal workforce by about 200,000 positions -- the smallest government in 30 years.