Document Name: Chapter 1 -- A Government That Makes Sense
Owner: National Performance Review
In framing a government...you must first enable [it] to control
the governed; in the nest place oblige it to control itself.
The Federalist, No. 40 (1787)
America was born angry at government. We were so sick of the English Crown treating us like, well, colonies, that we did what no career counselor today would recommend: we quit colonialism before we had something else lined up. We weren't entirely sure what we wanted--indeed, we argued among ourselves about it at length--but we knew what we didn't want, and that was to be jerked around by a distant and insensitive government.
We're no different today.
And today, once again, we feel our government has become distant and insensitive--not to mention too big, too meddlesome, and too costly. We don't much care whether it's a problem of politicians, issues, or government agencies--or even if it's federal, state, or local. It's just a problem. A big one.
Distrust of government is buried deep in America's genetic code. For more than two centuries, wave after wave of people who have been harassed or abused by their governments have seen this country as a last refuge, a haven: persecuted French Huguenots and Cambodians, Irish famine survivors and Salvadoran refugees, people fleeing Nazi Germany and Somalia. Our ancestors' distrust of authority is deeply ingrained in our national character. Take a close look at your birth certificate. Down in the fine print--after "Citizen: U.S.; Birthplace: Peoria; Eyes: brown; Blood type: B positive"--it says, "Attitude: Distrusts government." If it's not there, it should be: it's who we are.
The less government there is, the more we like it...
Until the earth cracks open in California and people's lives crack with it. Until the rains keep raining in the heartland and people's achievements and memories disappear in a swirl of angry brown water. Until a river becomes so polluted that it catches fire. Until a child dies from a contaminated hamburger. Or until we lose a job, need help feeding our family, grow old and can't afford medical care for our infirmities, or become victimized on our own neighborhood streets. Then we want that government to be there for us, and quickly.
The call came in to the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 19, 1995. Twenty-eight minutes earlier, at 9:02 a.m., a bomb had exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing scores of government workers and the citizens they serve, and injuring hundreds more. Now Tom Feuerborne, director of the state's Civil Emergency Management Department, was on the line asking for help.
A couple of years earlier he would have been told that his governor needed
to file a written request for federal emergency assistance and mail it to Washington.
No longer. Four and a half hours after Feuerborne's call, at 2:05 p.m., FEMA's advance team got there, complete with damage assessors. At 8:10 p.m., James Lee Witt, FEMA's director, arrived to personally coordinate the federal response. Witt had been a state emergency services director himself and he knew the drill. By 2:30 a.m., FEMA's own search and rescue teams were on the scene to help the city's fire department.1
Meanwhile, the federal agencies whose Oklahoma offices were shut down were working furiously to restore services for their customers throughout the region. Within hours of the blast, the Social Security Administration had arranged for its Dallas office to provide services to the citizens the Oklahoma City office served. GSA was setting up temporary office locations all over the city so federal agencies could restore their services to the public. By the next day, the Department of Labor was issuing apprenticeship certifications out of an employee's home, so that construction workers' pay would be uninterrupted. The U.S. Marine Corps Recruitment office was keeping appointments in a new location. The Federal Highway Administration was operating out of the Federal Aviation Administration's offices elsewhere in the city. The Department of Agriculture was issuing health certificates for animals awaiting export to Canada, Japan, and Taiwan so customers did not lose expensive reserved air cargo space.
Oklahoma City reminded America that "the government" isn't something separate. It is ourselves--our neighbors and friends trying to do their jobs. The bomb turned these simple acts of service into heroic acts. Yet helping people is what people in the federal government do every day.
At the same time, the event taught us that when it needs to, the government can untangle itself from its own red tape and take care of people's needs. Quickly. Efficiently. And well.
Can the federal government meet the needs of the American people? Without question, yes. Does it take a disaster for it to work right? No, it does not.
Rather, it takes a radical rethinking of what government should do, and how. The world has changed, and so have people's needs and expectations. For years, we Americans complained that the government hadn't kept up. Not only wasn't our government serving us, we said, it was hindering us--it had become so bogged down in process that it had forgotten about its purpose. But the government hadn't gotten the message.
Now, it has. Throughout the federal government, people are taking their cue from the business world and asking customers what their needs are, instead of telling them. They're eliminating programs that are obsolete and reforming activities and agencies whose purposes are still relevant. They're streamlining and simplifying regulations. And they're managing the work of the people's government like the best in private business.
Not surprisingly, government is getting smaller. As mentioned earlier, there are more than 160,000 fewer federal workers today than there were in 1993, when President Clinton took office, and more than 2,000 offices are being closed. And that's just the beginning.
Along the way, government is also getting better. Federal agencies are actually getting fan mail. The Post Office is guaranteeing counter service within five minutes in many places around the country. The Customs Service is clearing passengers and cargo even before planes land and ships dock.
Americans have waited a long time for a government that makes more sense. Out of frustration, some--including some Members of Congress--have proposed scrapping large pieces of the system. That would be dramatic, if nothing else.
But it turns out that isn't what people want at all:
* A 1993 poll asked people whether they would prefer a candidate who would "cut the federal bureaucracy by 20 percent" or one who would "change the way government does things--cut bureaucracy, make government more efficient, and give ordinary people better service and more choices." People overwhelmingly chose the latter--no matter whether they had voted for Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, or George Bush in the 1992 elections.2
* In a 1994 poll, after the mid-term elections, voters were asked whether it was most important to make government "smaller so it will cost and do less" or "more efficient so it delivers more services for less money," among other choices. Only 25 percent chose the first option; 51 percent chose the second.3
* Half of the respondents in a January 1995 Business Week/Harris poll said the federal government "mainly needs fine-tuning to make it more flexible, accountable, and user-friendly." And 44 percent said it "needs to undergo the same kind of dramatic restructuring and downsizing that is taking place in the private sector."4
* Based on a survey they conducted together in March 1995, Democrat pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster Robert Teeter concluded that a strong majority of Americans want more effective government and believe this can be accomplished through better management.5
In other words, Americans don't want the guillotine for our government.
We want intensive care. Says David Osborne, co-author of the best-seller Reinventing Government:
Voters want smaller government, yes, but they also want government that works. They want a government that narrows the deficit, creates economic growth, improves the schools, reduces crime, protects the environment, and helps them find the opportunities they need to succeed. They want a more efficient government, but they are desperate for a more effective government.6
The bipartisan Hart/Teeter poll found that Americans still want the federal government to have primary responsibility for things like controlling immigration, helping the needy, improving education, reducing crime, and preventing air and water pollution. Surprisingly, we even think the government, not private industry, should have primary responsibility for improving jobs and the economy.7
At the same time, Americans also think this work should be shared with others. We think that state governments would be better than the federal government at running some of these programs, though we expect the federal government to set standards and follow up. We think individuals and community leaders bear important responsibilities in meeting our national goals. And we think the business community should be consulted more.
In short, Americans don't like big government much, and we want less of it wherever possible. Yet we also expect much from our government and have high aspirations for it. And when something personal or threatening--or both--hits home, we want our government there for us.
It is January 1991. On your way to work at Eastern Airlines' headquarters in Miami you pick up the Miami Herald and discover that your job's gone--Eastern has just gone belly-up. This comes as no surprise to you; you've worked for Eastern most of your adult life, and everybody's known the company's been drowning in red ink for years. Bankruptcy has been in the air for months. The surprise comes a few days later, when you discover that your pension's gone belly-up too.
When both Eastern Airlines and Pan American World Airways folded in 1991, the pensions of tens of thousands of people who had worked for these companies evaporated overnight. Luckily for them, a small government organization called the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation stepped in to rescue them. Unluckily for the American taxpayer, however, the rescue cost more than a billion dollars, and the agency--like any other creditor--was able to retrieve from the bankrupt companies only pennies on the dollar. This wasn't an isolated incident, either. The pension agency now administers more than 2,000 terminated pension plans for more than 450,000 people.
Frustrated with their inability to head off such disasters before they happened, and under pressure from Congress because of the growing cost of these terminations, the folks at the pension agency decided there had to be a better way. They created an "Early Warning Program" that permitted them to monitor the 400 largest and most troubled pension programs and negotiate with the companies involved, so that pensioners' interests were protected before a company took any action that might terminate the pension fund.
Corporations responded. In the last two years, the pension agency has negotiated agreements covering more than 1 million American workers and retirees and providing more than $13 billion in pension protection. The new approach is working better and costing less--much less. And it's helped to change the relationship between the government and industry from adversarial to cooperative. When the General Motors Corporation, whose pension program was underfunded, proposed to sell off its highly profitable Electronic Data Services subsidiary, it didn't wait for the pension agency to call; it called first. The company agreed to set aside $10 billion in cash and stock to help protect the pensions of more than 600,000 workers and retirees--in advance.
You've probably never heard of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. With any luck at all, you'll never need to. But if the company you work for starts playing fast and loose with your pension fund, you'll be glad it's on top of the case. It's what you expect from your government, after all: to protect you when you can't protect yourself.
When the United States was first created, the federal government didn't have much to do. The framers of the Constitution planned for the national government to take care of national defense and foreign relations, define citizenship and protect the borders, regulate interstate commerce, create a postal service, and safeguard individual rights. Everything else would be handled by the states. In 1800, there were only a handful of federal departments. They were run by a secretary and a few clerks and, in one or two instances, a small field structure. There were no bureaus, no middle managers, few specialists.8 The country was small; things were simple.
But time, experience, and our own changing expectations gradually broadened the scope of the government's responsibilities. When the people needed protection from the abuses of monopolies in the late 1800s, they turned to the federal government. When the nation needed help out of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the federal government shouldered the task, creating programs to stabilize and strengthen the economy and help people in need. The international imperatives of World War II, the Cold War, and global leadership gave the federal government much broader responsibilities in national defense, trade, and foreign affairs than the Constitutional Convention could ever have contemplated. And a wide array of issues--pollution, poverty, and racial injustice, to name a few--became federal responsibilities because they could not be solved by states acting on their own. And so, with each passing year, the federal government did more and more of the people's work.
For a long while, Americans liked what they got from the federal government. They trusted it to do the right thing and to do it well. In 1963, more than three-quarters of all Americans said they believed the federal government did the right thing most of the time.
But today that figure has dropped to less than 20 percent.9 Many of us don't respect our government anymore; we resent it. We don't feel protected by our government; we feel hassled by it. We don't feel served by our government; we feel suffocated by it. A government that was supposed to preserve our liberties seems bent on proscribing them at every turn. And, to add insult to injury, the whole thing costs way too much.
It's said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. There may be no better illustration than the U.S. federal government.
For example, to ensure that politicians don't abuse the public trust and pack government agencies with their cronies, or that federal bureaucrats don't treat government workers unfairly, the government has created 100,000 pages of laws, executive orders, rules and regulations, and agency directives to cover every conceivable personnel decision.10 These were "summarized" in a 10,000-page Federal Personnel Manual, finally abandoned last year. If you wanted to hire people for federal jobs, you'd have been wise to choose young applicants; they'd mature while they waited for you to go through all the required steps.
To ensure that private businesses don't rip off the taxpayer when the government hires them to do the people's work, the government has created procurement rules--thousands of pages of them--so stupifyingly difficult, time-consuming, and costly to follow that many good companies won't even bother to bid. Do you work for the federal government and need a computer to do your job? Chances are that by the time you get the model you requested, the technology will be out of date--and you'll still pay the full retail price.
And to ensure that state and local governments don't subvert the will of Congress and use federal dollars the way they think best, the government tied up the funds and programs with restrictions. The knots are so tight that state and local officials often have no flexibility to meet federal goals in ways that make sense locally.
All in all, the Code of Federal Regulations--the government's rulebook--is enormous. If you want a copy for your library, you'll need a shelf 21 feet long.
The reasons for this overgrowth of rules are remarkably simple.11 As a matter of political philosophy, we moved away from limited government toward an activist government that we expected to serve as both a national "nanny" and a national police officer. As a matter of governmental practice, we wanted to protect against corruption, treat everyone fairly, and safeguard the common interests of the people. So we created rules to make sure the government makes no mistakes, takes no risks, tolerates no uncertainty. The result was galloping bureaucracy and stifling regulation.
We made these decisions. Not some faceless bureaucrat or power-hungry politician, but we the people, through our elected officials--presidents, senators, and congressional representatives, Republicans and Democrats alike. And while the world around us changed, our government stuck steadfastly to the rules--whether they made sense anymore or not.
In fact, the proliferation of rules is really only a symptom of the government's trouble, not its cause. The basic problem is that the government has plodded along single-mindedly, answering each new question with yet another rule, but failing to recognize that the world around it had gone in a different direction.
A Vacuum-Tube Government in a Microchip World
Twenty years ago, "Pong" was the latest thing in video games. In fact, it was the only thing. Eight-track tapes were the latest thing in music. Fax modems and cellular phones didn't exist. Airline travel was a luxury, and the Boeing 707 was the workhorse of the air.
Today, we've gone from 707s to 777s that are so technologically advanced that they can take off, fly, and land virtually on their own. And though they're bigger than ever, they're also cleaner and quieter than ever.
In many of the nation's busiest air traffic control centers, controllers peer at green radar screens that haven't changed much since World War II. Technicians nurse along ancient mainframe computers that take up an entire room but have only a fraction of the power of a modern laptop. Parts of the system run on vacuum tubes, a technology that was obsolete 30 years ago. And it breaks downa dozen times this year alone. All told, the system's inefficiency costs billions of dollars each year in wasted aircraft fuel, delays, missed connections, and laborsome $3 billion in imposed costs, according to the airline industry. That's more than the industry has ever made in profit in a year.
Why aren't these relics in a museum, instead of controlling the flights of half a billion passengers a year? Because the Federal Aviation Administration, which runs the air traffic control system, faces a unique and virtually impossible task. Despite the fact that the FAA literally controls the minute-by-minute activities of one of the country's flagship industries, it has none of the tools that have made U.S. companies in that industry the world's best. While the FAA needs to be able to plan for demand a decade or more away, it doesn't even know what its budget will be the next year. Although it has an annual revenue stream of more than $5 billion, it can't leverage one dime, and must pay for all of its equipment in cash and up front. And even with money in hand, the agency faces procurement rules so cumbersome that "new" systems are usually already obsolete by the time they're brought on-line.
Even so, thanks to the efforts of the Federal Aviation Administration's dedicated controllers, technicians and managers, our air traffic control system is still the safest in the world. However, growing demand, aging equipment, and shrinking budgets threaten FAA's ability to keep it that way.
When President Clinton took office, he quickly recognized that the status quo wouldn't fly. Under the leadership of Transportation Secretary Federico Peña and Administrator David Hinson, the FAA overhauled its massive air traffic control modernization program, ensuring that some new equipment will be delivered before the end of this decade and saving taxpayers an estimated $1.5 billion. In the interim, the agency is taking extraordinary steps to maintain the current equipment until the new systems are in place.
Improving hardware and software is still a stopgap measure, however. The real solution would be to fix the underlying cause of the problems. The FAA should be given the same tools to provide air traffic control services that those who use the system already rely on. That's exactly what the federal government's reinvention team has proposedto create a businesslike government-owned corporation, funded by user fees and working outside of traditional governmental constraints.
Vice President Gore and Secretary Peña displayed the FAA's vacuum tubes over a year ago to dramatize the need for change. The Speaker of the House echoed that call. There is now growing consensus in Congress on the need for personnel and procurement reform; any serious attempt at reform, though, must also address the financial future of the FAA. In the meantime, the airlines and the flying public are stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for the government to catch up.
The middle of this century--when we formed much of our vision of what government should do and how--was the pinnacle of the Industrial Age. Not surprisingly, the model we chose to follow was the great American corporation, where policy was decided by top executives, interpreted by mid-level managers in carefully segmented corporate divisions, and carried out by workers divided into narrow specialties, following detailed work specifications and mass-producing identical products of reliable, if unexceptional, quality.
It was said that "What's good for General Motors is good for the nation." And indeed, that system carried us to almost unimaginable levels of productivity and prosperity.
But by the 1970s, what was once good for General Motors wasn't even good for General Motors anymore. The world had changed. People weren't willing to accept "good enough" any more; we wanted the best. We wanted variety, choice, quality, convenience, and service. And with information on almost anything immediately accessible to almost anyone, we knew what the best was. Almost overnight, America had gone from a producer economy to a consumer economy--we had moved from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.
A lot of major corporations, General Motors included, were slow to respond and struggled to stay in business. Others--companies that were more flexible and moved more quickly to meet rapid changes in consumer demands--thrived. Eventually though, even the Big Three automakers turned around. In 1958, for example, you could buy 21 makes of cars from ten car makers; by the 1990s, you could choose from more than 570 car, van, and truck models.12 What's more, you could review their features, get information on their safety, and even do price comparisons by personal computer in the comfort of your own home. The consumer insisted on being in the driver's seat, and corporations changed accordingly.
But the federal government was still operating on the producer model, not the consumer model. Decisions were still made at the top, interpreted into rules and regulations by mid-level bureaucrats distant from customers and from each other, and carried out by public employees in narrow line agencies and field offices--whether they made sense or not. Change, if it came at all, came very slowly indeed.
The federal government has done things the way it has in the past for generally good reasons. On the taxpayers' behalf, it wanted to prevent abuse--unfairness, arbitrariness, corruption, willful bias--by its own employees, by companies it hires, and by other governments. It went by the book and demanded that everyone else did too.
But the price was high. Certainty was achieved, but in a rapidly changing world, "certainty" became inflexibility. Fairness was achieved by treating everyone equally, but in a world full of compelling individual situations, "fairness" became unresponsiveness. Bias was avoided by making sure local officials and front-line federal employees couldn't make discretionary decisions--even though they knew best what needed to be done--and by punishing them when they did. The result was a system that hobbled users and abusers alike, treated adults like children, and made everyone a suspect.
It also put the government's customers--which is to say, all of us--at the bottom of the priority list. The first priority was the rules; the second was those who checked whether the rules were being followed (such as auditors and inspectors general); the third was those who made the rules in the first place (such as Congress and interest groups). Customers came last, if at all. It was a sort of "iron triangle"--special interests told Congress what "the people" wanted; Congress passed laws, and then told the agencies what to do about them.
Citizens, understandably, do not like being low in the pecking order--or worse, being ignored altogether. And honest people--whether public employees or the people they serve--don't like being treated like potential criminals. The perverse effect of "rule by rules" is that instead of reducing arbitrariness it appears to increase it; instead of fostering cooperation it destroys it; instead of solving problems it worsens them, creating bitterness and resentment along the way.
And the costs are enormous. Fragmentation, duplication of effort, and complexity run up the cost of everything government does--and everything anyone else does that is regulated by the government. It turns out that fully one-third of the entire non-postal federal workforce simply checks on, audits, and controls other federal workers.13
Perhaps even worse, bright and committed people who chose to be public servants find they are not permitted to serve the public. Dedicated folks struggle to operate within an antiquated system that they know needs changing, and then have to take the heat when it breaks down.
This might all have been tolerable if the government were effective at doing what it does. But there's the rub; despite the red tape, the irritations, the wasted time, and the incredible cost, the federal government wasn't getting the job done. Often it seemed like it didn't even remember what the job was in the first place. As Philip K. Howard, author of The Death of Common Sense, put it, "We seem to have achieved the worst of both worlds: a system of regulation that goes too far while it also does too little."14 He could easily have said the same of the government as a whole, not just regulation.
Over the years, gradually but relentlessly, the distance between the people and the government has grown--when the whole idea in the first place was that the people and the government should be one and the same thing. As former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan once pointed out, "The characteristic complaint of our time seems to be not that government provides no reasons, but that its reasons often seem remote from human beings who must live with the consequences."15
Perhaps the most compelling challenge we face as a nation as the next century dawns is how to redeem the promise of self-government--how to make our government make sense again.
Let's say you're out driving one day and your car suddenly stops. You check the obvious things--the gas gauge, the temperature gauge--but that doesn't help. If you want to get to the bottom of the problem, you're going to have to look under the hood.
Then, you have three options. You can close it again and hope the problem will go away. This will keep your hands clean, but it won't get you anywhere. Or you can start yanking out pieces of equipment. This will make the car lighter and easier to push, but the chances are it won't make it run. Or you can try fixing what's broken--maybe several things. The only way to find out which things, however, is to examine the engine closely. Maybe consult an expert or two. Do a diagnosis. Experiment a bit. The disadvantage of this option, of course, is that it takes longer than simply ripping out equipment. The advantage is that it will get you where you want to go.
Some things are obvious. Some government programs are obsolete, or just plain silly, and can be eliminated. Over the years we've been pretty good at creating programs to solve new problems, but lousy at eliminating old ones.
In addition, some workforces are bloated and can be cut. Some field offices are no longer needed and can be closed. You can slim down the government "from the get-go." That's where the federal government's reinvention drive began: with the obvious--and there are more obvious things yet to do.
But "downsizing," as they call it in the business world, isn't enough. Just like any business, any government function that has been around a few decades needs to be re-thought. If it isn't, it loses touch with its original purpose--and with the needs of the times. It also becomes uncontrollable. As President Clinton has noted:
We know we have to go beyond cutting, even beyond restructuring, to completely reevaluate what the federal government is doing. Are we doing it well? Should we be doing it at all? Should someone else be doing it? Are we being as innovative and flexible as the most creative private organizations in the country?16
There is a point at which program and budget cuts fly just as much in the face of common sense as business as usual. As debate rages in Congress over which agencies or programs to cut to reduce the size and influence of the federal government, it's worth noting that when a patient has a systemic disease--say, a debilitating infection--a good doctor doesn't lop off the patient's arms and legs. For one thing, all that does is weaken the patient further. More importantly, it does absolutely nothing to cure the disease.
The federal government is ailing and needs a cure. It needs to be treated systemically, not amputated or--less drastic, but no more effective--dabbed with some dubious topical salve. Even if the wholesale elimination of federal agencies and programs was what Americans wanted--and it is not--that approach would do nothing to improve what is left.
Americans are quite clear about what common sense government means. It means a government that focuses on results, that moves heaven and earth to make it easy for citizens, businesses, and state and local governments to meet the nation's common goals. It means a government that recognizes who its real customers are, works with them to understand their needs, and puts them first, not last. And it means giving taxpayers their money's worth--a government that works better, faster, and cheaper than in the past, one that operates as well as, or better than, the best private businesses.
It means a government that works for us, not against us. It means a government that is in our corner, not in our face. Real cures tend to be a lot less dramatic than lopping limbs or ripping out machinery. They take time. Progress can be uneven. But in the case of reinventing the federal government, there is progress, and it's real.
Let's face it, this is the way things should have been all along. If you're a citizen, you ought to be able to expect good service from your government. If you run a business, you ought to be able to expect reasonable treatment by regulators--treatment that meets legitimate public needs without crushing yours. And as a taxpayer, you ought to be able to expect that the government, acting as your trustee, is managing your tax dollars wisely. And the federal government shouldn't expect applause when it finally straightens things out to give the American people this kind of treatment.
But the point is, this has never happened before. Despite 11 major exercises in government reform this century, there's been little lasting change.
1. Daniel Franklin, "The FEMA Phoenix: How one federal agency rose from the ashes to become a symbol of what government can do," The Washington Monthly, July/August 1995, p. 42.
2. David Osborne, "Can This President Be Saved?" The Washington Post Magazine, January 8, 1995, p. 14.
3. Osborne, p. 14.
4. "Are Americans Really That Angry?" Business Week, January 23, 1995, p. 41.
5. Report of Peter Hart/Robert Teeter poll conducted for the Council on Excellence in Government, April 12, 1995.
6. Osborne, p. 14.
7. Hart/Teeter poll.
8. Russell M. Linden, Seamless Government: A Practical Guide to Re-Engineering in the Public Sector (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1994), p. 29.
9. Alice M. Rivlin, Director, Office of Management and Budget,
testimony before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, May 17, 1995.
10. Estimate by the Office of Management and Budget in Al Gore, From Red Tape to Results: Creating a Government That Works Better and Costs Less (New York: Plume/Penguin Books, 1993), p. 1.
11. Michael Kelly, "Rip It Up," The New Yorker, January 23, 1995, p. 32.
12. Linden, p. 11.
13. Linden, p. 42.
14. Philip K. Howard, The Death of Common Sense: How the Law is Suffocating America (New York: Random House, 1995), p. 11.
15. Howard, p. 9.
16. Bill Clinton, remarks at Reinventing Government event, FCC Auction Office, Washington, D.C., March 27, 1995.