Document Name: Chapter 2 -- Putting Customers First Part I
Date: 09/07/94
Owner: National Performance Review
Title:Chapter 2 -- Putting Customers First Part I

Author: Vice President Albert Gore's National Performance Review

Date:7 September 1993 10:00:00 EST

Content-Type: text/ascii charset=US ASCII

Content-Length: 75744

Chapter 2

Putting Customers First


We are going to rationalize the way the federal government

relates to the American people, and we are going to make the

federal government customer friendly. A lot of people don't

realize that the federal government has customers. We have

customers. The American people.

Vice President Al Gore

Town Meeting, Department of Housing and Urban Development

March 26, 1993


All of us--bureaucrat or business owner, cabinet secretary

or office clerk--respond to incentives. We do more of what brings

us rewards and recognition, less of what brings us criticism. But

our government, built around a complex cluster of monopolies,

insulates both managers and workers from the power of incentives.

We must change the system. We must force our government to put

the customer first by injecting the dynamics of the marketplace.

The best way to deal with monopoly is to expose it to

competition. Let us be clear: this does not mean we should run

government agencies exactly like private businesses. After all,

many of government's functions are public responsibilities

precisely because the private sector cannot, should not, or would

not manage them. But we can transplant some aspects of the

business world into the public arena. We can create an

environment that commits federal managers to the same struggle to

cut costs and improve customer service that compels private

managers. We can imbue the federal government--from top to

bottom--with a driving sense of accountability.

Is it really possible to reinvent government in this way?

Horror stories about government waste are so abundant that many

doubt its ability to change. For some, the only solution is to

cut or abolish programs wholesale. In some instances those cuts

make sense and we are recommending them. But alone they do not

address the problem we face or move us decidedly toward a

government that works better and costs less. We propose a

different approach. we must make cuts where necessary; we also

must make our government effective and efficient. Some programs

clearly should be

eliminated, others streamlined. We will offer many proposals to

do both in chapter 4. But reinventing government isn't just about

trimming programs; it's about fundamentally changing the way

government does business. By forcing public agencies to compete

for their customers--between offices, with other agencies, and

with the private sector--we will create a permanent pressure to

streamline programs, abandon the obsolete, and improve what's


This process will be neither quick nor easy. But as it

unfolds, a very different type of government will emerge, one

that is accountable to its true customers--the public.

We propose four specific steps to empower customers, break

federal monopolies, and provide incentives for federal employees

to better serve their customers.

First, we will require that all federal agencies put

customers first by regularly asking them how they view government

services, what problems they encounter, and how they would like

services improved. We will ensure that all customers have a

voice, and that every voice is heard.

Second, we will make agencies compete for their customers'

business. Wherever feasible, we will dismantle government's

monopolies, including those that buy goods and services, acquire

and maintain office space, and print public documents. These

internal monopolies serve their customers--government workers--so

poorly, it's no wonder those workers have such trouble serving

customers outside government.

Third, where competition isn't feasible, we will turn

government monopolies into more businesslike

enterprises--enterprises in closer touch with both customers and

market incentives.

Fourth, we will shift some federal functions from old-style

bureaucracies to market mechanisms. We will use federal powers to

structure private markets in ways that solve problems and meet

citizens' needs--such as for job training or safe

workplaces--without funding more and bigger public bureaucracies.

Together, these strategies will enable us to create a

responsive, innovative, and entrepreneurial government. If we

inject market mechanisms into federal agencies as we are cutting

red tape, we will create new dynamics--and a new

dynamism--throughout the federal government.

Step 1: --Giving Customers A Voice-- And A Choice

Setting Customer Service Standards

Long lines, busy signals, bad information, and indifferent

workers at front counters-- these are all too common occurrences

when customers come in contact with their government. Quite

simply, the quality of government service is below what its

customers deserve.

We propose to set a goal of providing customer services

equal to the best in business. Too many agencies have learned to

overlook their customers. After all, most of government's

customers can't really take their business elsewhere. Veterans

who use veterans' hospitals, companies that seek environmental

permits, or retirees applying for social security benefits must

deal with public agencies that hold monopolies. And monopolies,

public or private, have little sensitivity to customer needs. So

government agencies must do what many of America's best

businesses have done: renew their focus on customers. Some are

already trying. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social

Security Administration (SSA) have taken major steps to improve

their telephone services to customers. SSA, the U.S. Postal

Service (USPS), and the Department of Veterans Affairs are

developing a combined government services kiosk, providing a

single point of access for services offered by the three

agencies. The Library of Congress, the Energy Department, the

National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National

Science Foundation, and other federal agencies have placed their

materials on Internet, a worldwide computer network.1

Good service means giving people what they need. To do that,

however, one must first find out what they want--a step few

federal agencies have taken. In the future, federal agencies will

ask their customers what they want, what problems they have, and

how the agencies can improve their services.

Knowing what customers want, public agencies must set clear

and specific customer service standards. When Federal Express

promises to deliver a package the next day by 10:30 a.m., both

customers and employees understand precisely what that means.

Similarly, when the Air Force's Tactical Air Command discarded

its thick set of specifications about living quarters for

visiting pilots and adopted a simple standard- -equivalent to "a

moderately priced hotel, like Ramada"--employees understood

exactly what it meant.2

Several federal agencies that frequently interact with

citizens have launched aggressive customer service initiatives.

We endorse strengthening these initiatives--described below- -and

expanding them across the federal government.

Internal Revenue Service.

The IRS, the federal agency most citizens prefer to avoid,

might seem the least likely to develop a customer focus. But it's

working hard to do just that.

Four years ago, the General Accounting Office (GAO)

discovered that IRS staff gave a wrong answer to one of every

three taxpayers who called with a question. Since then, the

agency has improved its accuracy rate to 88 percent.3 And--in a

switch that signals a basic change in attitude--agency employees

now refer to taxpayers as customers. In IRS pilot projects across

the country, employees now have authority to change work

processes on their own in order to improve productivity.

Front-line workers also have more authority to resolve issues

one-on-one with individual taxpayers. The agency is fostering

competition among its tax return centers, based on customer

service levels and efficiency at handling the 1.7 billion pieces

of paper the IRS receives each year. Centers that perform better

get higher budgets and workloads, and employees get promotion

opportunities. The IRS was among the first government agencies to

use 800 numbers and automated voice mail systems to increase

customer access to information. Today, the IRS is beginning to

survey its customers.


Customer Service Standards: IRS

As part of the National Performance Review, the IRS is publishing

customer service standards, including these:

-- If you file a paper return, your refund due will be mailed

within 40 days.

-- If you file an electronic return, your refund due will be

sent within 14 days when you specify direct deposit, within

21 days when you request a check.

-- Our goal is to resolve your account inquiry with one

contact; repeat problems will be handled by a Problem

Resolution Office in an average of 21 days.

-- When you give our tax assistors sufficient and accurate

information and they give you the wrong answers, we will

cancel related penalties.

-- With your feedback, by 1995 IRS forms and instructions will

be so clear that 90 percent of individual tax returns will

be error-free.


In addition, some centers are serving customers in truly

astonishing ways. One anecdote makes the point. At the Ogden,

Utah Service Center--a winner of the Presidential Award for

Quality--a down-on-his-luck man hitchhiked from out of state to

get his refund check. As it turns out, this center doesn't issue

checks. But IRS employees there discovered that a disbursing

center had sent a check to the hitchhiker's old address and that

it had been returned. They ordered a new check sent to Ogden and

helped the hitchhiker make ends meet until the check arrived.

In the end, the IRS's efforts could affect all of us, not

only as filers of tax returns but as taxpayers. If IRS forms are

easier to understand and use, more taxpayers might file on time.

If the IRS develops an image as a more effective, user-friendly

agency, more taxpayers might decide to file in the first place. A

mere 1-percent increase in voluntary compliance would add $7

billion in government revenue each year.4

Social Security Administration.

Every year, more than 47 million Americans come in contact

with the Social Security Administration, which administers

old-age pensions, survivors' and disability insurance, and the

supplemental security income (SSI) program. The agency has 1,300

field offices and receives 60 million calls a year on its

toll-free lines. As the nation's population ages, the agency

faces an ever-increasing workload. Recently, an inspector

general's report showed that customer satisfaction had fallen 4

years in a row due to longer waiting times in offices and

increasing problems in reaching someone on the phone.5

Fortunately, the Social Security Administration is

strengthening its customer orientation. When Hurricane Andrew

struck South Florida, where 367,000 people collect social

security and SSI, agency workers took steps to ensure that senior

citizens would know how to get their checks despite the

devastation. Local offices used television, radio, and

loudspeaker trucks touring the area with messages in English,

Spanish, and Creole. The agency also hired an airplane to tow a

banner with SSA's toll-free 800 telephone number over the

hard-hit Homestead area.


Customer Service Standards: Social Security Administration
As part of its participation in the National Performance Review,

the Social Security Administration will publish nationally, and

post in each of its offices, these performance standards:

-- You will be treated with courtesy every time you contact

us. -- We will tell you what benefits you qualify for and give

you the information you need to use our programs.

-- We will refer you to other programs that may help you. --

You will reach us the first time you try on our 800 number.


More generally, the Social Security Administration recently

adopted a customer-oriented strategic plan, which includes

objectives such as issuing social security numbers orally within

24 hours of an application. Besides pinpointing some of their

objectives as standards to reach today, SSA is publishing all 34

of its objectives and seeking customer feedback on whether it set

the right targets for service.

U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service, which delivered 166

billion pieces of mail in 1992, has begun improving customer

service for a good reason: It has competition. While most people

still use the Postal Service to deliver first class mail, the use

of private delivery services and electronic mail is rising



Customer Service Standards: USPS

As part of its participation in the National Performance Review,

the USPS will expand its plans to display these standards in post


-- Your first class mail will be delivered anywhere in the United

States within 3 days. -- Your local first class mail will be

delivered overnight.

-- You will receive service at post office counters within 5

minutes. -- You can get postal information 24 hours a day by

calling a local number.


The Postal Service has decided to meet its competition

head-on. Using focus groups, the agency identified service areas

where its customers wanted improvement. It found that people

wanted shorter waiting lines at counters, better access to postal

information, and better responses to their complaints. Using

these standards to measure performance, the agency set a long

range goal of "100-percent satisfaction" and developed a customer

satisfaction index to measure progress toward it.

The agency also is providing incentives for employee

performance: In cooperation with two postal unions, managers now

use customer satisfaction data to help determine employee


Action: The President should issue a directive requiring

all federal agencies that deliver services to the public to

create customer service programs that identify and survey

customers. The order will establish the following standard for

quality: Customer service equal to the best in business.6

The President's directive will lay out principles to govern

the provision of customer services. For example, organizations


-- survey their customers frequently to find out what kind and

quality of services they want;

-- post standards and results measured against them;

-- benchmark performance against "the best in business";

-- provide choices in both source of service and delivery

means; -- make information, services, and complaint systems

easily accessible; -- handle inquiries and deliver services

with courtesy;

-- provide pleasant surroundings for customers; and

-- provide redress for poor services.

The order will direct all federal agencies that deal with

the public to:

-- immediately identify who their customers are;

-- survey their customers on services and results desired, and

on satisfaction with existing services;

-- survey front-line employees on barriers to, and ideas for,

matching the best in business;

-- in 6 months, report results on these three steps to the

President; and

-- develop and publish a customer service plan--including an

initial set of customer service standards--within 1 year.

The customer service plans will address the need to train

front-line employees in customer service skills. They will also

identify companies that agencies will use to judge how they

compare to the "best in business." The directive will ask cabinet

secretaries and agency heads to use improvement in customer

satisfaction as a primary criterion in judging the performance of

agency managers and front-line employees.

Action: For voluntary customer surveys, the Office of Management

and Budget will delegate its survey approval authority under the

Paperwork Reduction Act to departments that are able to comply

with the act.7

The public's input is crucial to improving customer service.

But current law gives the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)

power to decide on virtually all agency requests to solicit

information from the public (OMB can delegate this authority).

This law was designed to minimize onerous paperwork burdens the

federal government imposes on businesses and citizens. But it

also minimizes the number of times agencies ask customers about

their needs. It often slows agencies down so much that they

abandon the idea of doing a survey altogether.

For many agencies, customer surveys are the single most

useful way to measure performance. If OMB has to approve every

request for a customer survey, however, neither the directive

described above nor the Government Performance and Results Act,

which the President signed in August 1993, will work. Citizens do

not like to be forced to fill out forms by their government. But

most Americans would be pleased to receive a voluntary survey

asking how their post office or social security office could

improve its customer service.

We propose to delegate approval of voluntary customer

surveys to departments with the ability to comply with the law,

and ensure that they create rapid approval processes so

bottlenecks don't develop at lower levels.

Customer-driven programs rarely cost more than others;

indeed, productivity gains in past federal experiments have more

than offset cost increases. At the Ogden Service Center, the IRS

office's new approach helped workers process 5 percent more tax

returns. When organizations shift their focus to customers, they

act like Avis--they try harder.

Crossing Agency Boundaries

Unfortunately, even agencies that try harder find very real

obstacles in the way of putting their customers first. Perhaps

the worst is Washington's organizational chart. Time and again,

agencies find it impossible to meet their customers' needs,

because organizational boundaries stand in the way.

Sometimes, programs housed in the same agency are only

tangentially related. While most Agriculture Department programs

relate to food, for instance, its customers range from farmers

who grow it to poor children whose families use food stamps. At

other times, programs dealing with the same customers are located

in a dozen different agencies. Rather than make people jump over

organizational boundaries on their own, we must remove the

boundaries at the point of customer contact. We must make the

delivery of services "seamless."

The traditional solution is to shuffle the organizational

chart. But in Washington, such proposals set off monumental turf

wars between agencies in the executive branch, and between

committees in Congress. After years of struggle, one or two

agencies are reorganized -- or a new department is created.

Meanwhile, the nation's problems keep changing, so the new

structure is soon out of date.

In a rapidly changing world, the best solution is not to

keep redesigning the organizational chart; it is to melt the

rigid boundaries between organizations. The federal government

should organize work according to customers' needs and

anticipated outcomes, not bureaucratic turf. It should learn from

America's best-run companies, in which employees no longer work

in separate, isolated divisions, but in project- or

product-oriented teams.

To do so, the government must make three changes. It must
give federal workers greater decision making authority, allowing

them to operate effectively in cross-cutting ventures. It must

strip federal laws of prohibitions against such cooperation. And

it must order agencies to reconsider their own regulations and

tradition-bound thinking. For example, the Forest Service found

that 70 percent of its regulatory barriers to new, creative ways

of doing business were self-imposed.8

Despite these barriers, some noteworthy initiatives are

underway. Rural Development Councils, under the Agriculture

Department's direction, work with several federal departments as

well as states and localities to better coordinate rural aid

programs. At the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a

systems manager helps coordinate the activities of the FAA,

Defense Department, international aviation organizations, and

various private interests on matters involving satellites, data

links, and traffic flow management.9

We should bring the same approach to other parts of

government. The following examples illustrate the problems we

face and the solutions we must create.

Action: Create a system of competitive, one-stop, career

development centers open to all Americans.10

Our nation's economic future depends on the quality of our

workforce. Our individual futures, too, depend on whether we have

marketable, flexible skills with which to adapt to the changing

demands of new technologies. In a country where the average

worker changes jobs seven times in a lifetime, those skills are

more than desirable; they are crucial.

Our government invests heavily in education and training.

Together, 14 separate government departments and agencies invest

$24 billion a year, through 150 employment and training

programs.11 But we do not invest this money well enough. For one

thing, our system is organized for the convenience of those who

deliver services, not those who use them. For another, the system

lacks competition and incentives for improvement. "The United

States has a worldwide reputation for providing its youth


opportunity to attend college," the General Accounting Office

noted recently. "However, our country falls short in employment

preparation of many noncollege-youth." Unlike our competitors,

GAO said, we have no national policy to systematically prepare

non-college educated youth for jobs.12

Our system is badly fragmented. Each service -- from job

referral to retraining -- is designed for different people, with

different rules, regulations, and reporting requirements.

Bewildered, often dispirited, job seekers must trudge from office

to office, trying to fit themselves into a program. When they

find a program, they may find that they aren't eligible, that

it's all filled up, or that the classroom is across town.

American workers deserve a better deal. Nowhere on the

government reinvention front is action more urgently needed or

are potential rewards greater. We envision a new workforce

development system, focused on the needs of workers and

employers. We will organize it around the customer -- whether an

individual or a business -- then provide that customer with good

information about the performance of different providers and

plenty of choices. If we do this, career centers and training

providers will have to compete for their customers' business,

based on the quality of their services.

Specifically, we propose one-stop career management centers

across the country, open to all Americans -- regardless of race,

gender, age, income, employment experience, or skills. (One-stop

centers are also a key feature of the Workforce Investment

Strategy the Labor Department is developing.) Our centers would

offer skills assessment, information on jobs, access to education

and training -- everything people needed to make career

decisions. The centers would be linked to all federal, state, and

local workforce development programs, and to many private ones

(which are, after all, the source of most job-training money).

Core services such as labor market information and job search

help would be offered free. Some centers might offer other

services, from comprehensive testing to career counseling and

workshops, on a fee-for-service basis.

These centers would help their customers get access to funds

from any of the 150 programs for which they qualified. To make
this possible, the federal government would eliminate or waive

many rules and regulations that keep our workforce development

programs separate. The centers would also be allowed to generate

their own revenues, including fees collected from employers and

employees would could afford to pay. Any organization, public or

private, would be allowed to seek a charter to operate one or

more one-stop career centers. The process would be

performance-driven, with contracts renewed only if centers met

customers' demands. The federal government would establish

national chartering standards for the centers, but states and

local employment boards would decide which organizations met the


Today, local organizations such as U S Employment Service

and Service Delivery Areas get most of their federal funds almost

as a matter of entitlement. They account for the money, but we do

not hold them accountable for whether they spend it effectively.

We would make funding for these new centers more competitive,

opening the process to public and private, nonprofit and

for-profit, entities.

We would judge these centers in part by how many people

sought help at them -- on the theory that centers attracting the

most customers were clearly doing something right. But we would

focus as well on what happened after the customers left. Did they

enroll in meaningful training programs? Did they find jobs? Did

they keep their jobs? Did they increase their incomes? Finally,

we would give customers the necessary information to decide the

same thing for themselves: Which training program would meet

their needs best?

We believe that the central problem in the Employment

Service is not the line workers, but the many rules and

regulations that prevent them from doing their jobs. Waiver of

these antiquated rules will free up these workers to perform

well. In order for state Employment Services to compete on a

level playing field -- particularly after the negative effects of

the last decade of spending cuts and over-regulation -- line

workers must be given the opportunity to retool. The Labor

Department should ensure that they receive the necessary training

to enable them to participate in the process. The biggest single

barrier to creating an integrated system of one-stop career

centers is the fragmented nature of federal funds. The 150

federal programs have different rules, different reporting

requirements, even different fiscal years. To synchronize these

-- and to break down the walls between

categorical programs -- the National Economic Council should

convene a Workforce Development Council, with members from the

Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services;

the Office of Management and Budget; and other departments and

agencies with employment and training programs. This council

should standardize fiscal and administrative procedures, develop

a standard set of terms and definitions between programs, develop

a comprehensive set of results-oriented performance standards,

and improve the qualitative evaluation of program performance.

Action: The President shoud issue a directive that requires

collaborative efforts across the government to empower

communities and strengthen families.13

At Vice President Gore's recent conference on family policy

in Nashville, experts agreed that effective family policy

requires new approaches at the federal, state, and local levels.

We should stop dividing up families' needs into health,

education, welfare, and shelter, each with its own set of

agencies and programs, many of which contradict one another and

work at cross-purposes. Instead, across all levels of government,

we need collaborative,

community-based, customer-driven approaches through which

providers can integrate the full network of services.

For instance, we spend about $60 billion a year on the

well-being of children. But we have created at least 340 separate

programs for families and children, administered by 11 different

federal agencies and departments.14 Thus, a poor family may need

to seek help from several departments--Agriculture for food

stamps, Housing and Urban Development for rental support, Health

and Human Services for health care and chasing down dead-beat

parents. For each program, they will have to visit different

offices, learn about services, fill out forms to establish

eligibility--and wait.

The system is fragmented and illogical. In Texas, where the

immunization rate among poor children is about 30 percent, the

state Health Department sought permission to have nurses who run

the Agriculture Department's Women, Infants and Children

supplemental food program also give immunization. The Agriculture

Department said no--unless Texas developed an elaborate cost

allocation plan. Consequently, mothers and children will have to

continue visiting more than one agency.15

A few years ago, Governing magazine described a teenage girl

who was pregnant, had a juvenile record and was on welfare.

Between the three problems, she had more than six

caseworkers--each from a different agency. As one put it: "The

kid has all these people providing services, and everybody's

doing their own thing and Tasha's not getting better. We need to

have one person who says, 'Now look, let's talk about a plan of

action for Tasha.'"16 President Clinton's directive will help

remove obstacles that agencies face in trying to serve Tasha and

others like her.

Action: The President should issue a directive and propose

legislation to reconstitute the Federal Coordinating Council for

Science, Engineering, and Technology as the National Science and

Technology Council, giving it a broader role in setting science

and technology policy.17

Progress in science and technology is a key ingredient of

national economic success. President Clinton's A Vision of Change

for America, released in February, cites studies showing that

"investments in research and development (R&D) tend to be the

strongest and most consistent positive influence on productivity

growth."18 In an increasingly competitive world economy, the

American people need the best possible return on federal R&D


The Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering,

and Technology (FCCSET) is a White House-managed team that helps

set policy for technology development. With representatives from

more than a dozen agencies, it develops interagency projects,

such as biotechnology research and the high-performance computing

initiative. Unfortunately, FCCSET lacks the teeth to set

priorities, direct policy, and participate fully in the budget

process. It can't compel agencies to participate in its projects,

nor can it tell agencies how to spend funds. Its six funded

projects will account for just 16 percent of Washington's $76

billion R & D budget in 1994. At a time of declining federal

resources, experts in business, academia, and government

recognize the need for one-stop shopping for science and

technology policy.

A new National Science and Technology Council would direct

science and technology policy more forcefully, and would

streamline the White House's advisory apparatus by combining the

functions of FCCSET, the National Space Council, and the National

Critical Materials Council.

Action: The President should issue a directive to give the Trade

Promotion Coordinating Committee greater authority to control

federal export promotion efforts.19

Unlike most of our economic competitors, the United States

has no national export strategy. Our export programs are

fragmented among 19 separate organizations- -including the

Agriculture and Commerce Departments and the Small Business

Administration. The U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, in

Commerce's International Trade Administration, is the lead agency

for trade promotion overseas. But dozens of other entities--many

within Commerce--also have trade promotion roles.

Our export programs provide little benefit to all but our

nation's largest businesses. The economic implications of such

selective assistance are serious. Exports are among our most

effective job-creating tools. They create about 20,000 new jobs

for every $1 billion in exports. Thousands of small and mid-sized

companies make products attractive for overseas markets, but are

discouraged by high transaction costs and a lack of information.

According to trade experts, the United States may be the "world's

biggest export underachiever."20

The President's directive will give the Trade Promotion

Coordinating Committee (TPCC), chaired by the Commerce Secretary

and including representatives from 19 departments, agencies, and

executive offices, broader authority to create performance

measures and set allocation criteria for the nation's export

promotion programs. Working with the National Economic Council,

TPCC will ensure that such programs better serve the exporting


Action: The President should issue a directive to establish

ecosystem management policies across the government.21

"For too long, contradictory policies from feuding agencies

have blocked progress, creating uncertainty, confusion,

controversy, and pain throughout the region," President Clinton

declared at the Forest Conference held in Portland, Oregon in

April 1993. Shortly thereafter, the President announced his

Forest Plan--a proactive approach to ensuring a sustainable

economy and a sustainable environment through ecosystem

management. We recommend extending the concept of ecosystem

management across the federal government.

Although economic growth has strained our ecological

systems, our government lacks a coordinated approach to ecosystem

management. A host of agencies have jurisdiction over individual

pieces of our natural heritage. The Bureau of Land Management

oversees more than 60 percent of all public lands; the Forest

Service manages our national forests and grasslands; the Fish and

Wildlife Service manages our National Wildlife Refuge System; the

National Park Service oversees the national parks; the

Environmental Protection Agency implements laws to regulate air

and water quality; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Administration (NOAA) manages marine resources; and various other

agencies run programs that affect the environment. Different

agencies, with jurisdictions over the same ecosystem, do not work

well together. Even within the same agency, bureaus fight one


At the local level, a hodge podge of government agencies

control activities that affect the environment. Consider, for

instance, the San Francisco Bay delta estuary. One of the most

human-altered estuaries on the west coast of North or South

America, it is governed by a complex array of agencies, plans,

and laws. One mile of the delta may be affected by decisions of

more than 400 agencies.22

The White House Office on Environmental Policy has convened

an interagency task force of appropriate assistant secretaries to

develop and implement cross-agency ecosystem management projects.

The Office of Management and Budget will review the plans as part

of the fiscal 1995 budget process. In 1994, the assistant

secretaries will establish cross-agency teams to develop initial

ecosystem management plans for implementation in fiscal year

1995. Also in 1994, the President should issue a directive that

will declare sustainable ecosystem management across the federal


Action: The President should create a Federal Coordinating

Council for Economic Development.23

The federal government has no coherent policy for regional

development and community dislocation. Instead, it offers a

fragmented and bureaucratic system of seven programs to assist

states and localities. The major programs are the Commerce

Department's Economic Development Administration, the Housing and

Urban Development Department's Community Development Block Grant

program, and the Agriculture Department's Rural Development

Administration and Rural Electrification Administration. The

Defense Department, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Appalachian

Regional Commission run smaller programs. Thus, states and

communities must turn to many different agencies and programs,

rather than a single coordinated system. Communities find it hard

to get help, and the dispersion of effort limits overall funding.

Washington's economic and regional development activities

should be reconfigured to suit its customers--states and

communities. We propose a Federal Coordinating Council for

Economic Development, comprising the appropriate cabinet

secretaries and agency heads, to coordinate such activities and

provide a central source of information for states and

localities. The council will provide a unifying framework for

economic and regional development efforts, develop a

governmentwide strategic plan and unified budget to support the

framework, prevent duplication in the various programs, and

assess appropriate funding levels for the agencies involved.

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