Document Name: Chapter 3 -- Empowering Employees to Get Results Part II
Date: 09/07/94
Owner: National Performance Review
Title:Chapter 3 -- Empowering Employees to Get Results Part II

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: 92972


Ultimately, no one can generate results without knowing how

the "bottom line" is defined. Without a performance target,

managers manage blindly, employees have no guidance, policymakers

don't know what's working, and customers have no idea where they

may be served best. If, for example, jobless people know how well

graduates of local training programs fare when looking for work,

they can better choose which new careers and programs offer the

best prospects. Informed consumers are the strongest enforcers of

accountability in government.

Action: The administration will issue one set of Baldrige Awards

for quality in the federal government.26

For years, the executive branch has taken steps to recognize

and support good performance. In typical fashion, however, we

have created three different award systems, each administered by

a different organization. The Federal Quality Institute (FQI)

administers the Presidential Award for Quality; the President's

Council on Management Improvement administers the Award for

Management Excellence; and the Office of Personnel Management

awards the Presidential Quality and Management Improvement Awards

for tangible savings to the government of more than $250,000.

The administration will issue one set of presidential awards

for quality. The Baldrige Award Office of the National Institute

for Standards and Technology will combine the existing awards

into a new set of Baldrige Awards for public service--to go along

with its private sector award. The new award will recognize

agency and work unit quality initiatives and ideas, based on


performance, cost savings, innovation, and customer satisfaction.

Step 3: --Giving Federal Workers the Tools They Need to do


Americans today demand a more responsive, more humane

government that costs less. Their expectations are neither

irrational nor whimsical. Over the past 20 years, the entire way

we do things, make things, even contact one another, has changed

around us. Businesses have no guarantees, no captive markets. To

compete, they must make things and deliver service better and

faster, and get their message out sooner. No one benefits more

than customers. It's no wonder these same people now turn to

government and ask, "Why can't you do things better too?"

Transforming our federal government to do better will mean

recasting what people do as they work. They will turn from bosses

into coaches, from directors into negotiators, from employees

into thinkers and doers. Government has access to the same tools

that have helped business make this transformation; it's just

been slower to acquire and use them. We must change that. We must

give workers the tools they need to get results-- then make sure

they use them.

Employee Training

After two decades of organizing for quality, business knows

one thing for sure: Empowered people need new skills--to work as

teams, use new computer software, interpret financial and

statistical information, cooperate with and manage other people,

and adapt. Indeed, business talks about a new breed of "knowledge

worker"--people who understand that, throughout their careers,

their most important task is to continue learning and applying

new knowledge to the challenge at hand. Knowledgeable workers are

our most important source of progress. They are, quite simply,

the currency of 21st century commerce.

Business teaches us that ongoing training for every worker

is essential for organizations to work well. Not surprisingly,

the federal government under-spends on training and education,

just as it does on most other productivity-enhancing investments.

In 1989, the National Commission on the Public Service, headed by

Paul Volcker, estimated that while leading private firms spend 3

to 5 percent of their budgets on training, retraining, and

upgrading employee skills, the federal government spends less

than one percent.27

And the little we do spend is not always allocated wisely. A

well-promoted 4-day training seminar packaged to appeal to

federal agency managers may seem like a good deal. It is not,

however, always what the agency needs. The Volcker Commission


Federal training is suffering from an identity crisis.

Agencies are not sure what they should train for (short term or

long term), who should get the lion's share of resources (entry

level or senior level)...and whether mid-career education is of

value...Career paths are poorly designed, executive succession is

accidental and unplanned, and real-time training for pressured

managers is virtually non-existent. At both the career and

presidential level, training is all-too-often ad hoc and


Perhaps most striking is the paucity of career training for

people on the lowest rungs of the civil service ladder, or for

people without the leg-up of university degrees. These valued

employees may have the most tenure in an office. They may see and

know everything. Frequently, they are indispensable, because only

they know how the system works--and how to work the system.

Unfortunately, their abilities are rarely rewarded, despite their

desire to advance.

One staffer in the Justice Department's Civil Division

alerted Vice President Gore to her quandary:

I'm watching the role of our legal secretaries change. Less

and less of the typical secretarial duties are being performed,

simply because the attorneys do a lot of their own drafting of

documents... However, for a secretary to start to move into a

legal assistant position... or into a paralegal role, is frowned

upon... As far as training goes it's impossible... That prevents

a lot of people from...moving into new jobs that are going to be

of more benefit to the department...We've lost a good number of

secretaries who have moved elsewhere, because they cannot go any

further here.29

Employees at the top rung, too, must keep learning. Managers

and executives face the same hurdles in keeping up with

technology as do front-line workers. Technicians must stay up to

date with system advances and new techniques. The growing band of

federal export and trade personnel must learn more than foreign

languages--they need to master the language of negotiation as

well. Indeed, employees in the Office of the U.S. Trade

Representative currently receive no systematic training in

negotiation skills or the cross-cultural styles and patterns they

are likely to encounter in their work--a situation the office is

now planning to correct.30

Perhaps most important, training is the key that unlocks the

power of bottom-up decisionmaking. At the Reinventing Government

Summit, General Electric Executive Vice President Frank Doyle

detailed the GE experience: "We had to educate our entire

workforce to give them the tools to become meaningfully involved

in all aspects of work. a disorderly and almost

meaningless gesture unless people doing the actual work are given

the tools and knowledge that self-direction demands."31

During the National Performance Review process, almost every

one of the agency teams identified a specific learning need

critical to their agency's quality improvement and mission. In

addition, several common training concerns demand governmentwide


Action: The administration will grant agencies the flexibility to

finance training needs.32

Leading corporations view training as a strategic resource,

an investment. Federal managers tend to view it as a cost. So in

government, worker training isn't even included in most budget

estimates for new systems or programs. This is puzzling and quite

short-sighted, since new workplace innovations, like advanced

software, won't transform employee productivity unless those

employees know how to use them. Although training may be the best

and least costly way to improve worker performance, government

executives view it as a "quick fix," unworthy of any planning


Perceptions are changing, however. Today's management

literature is full of talk about the value of

on-the-job-training, computer-based instruction, expert systems,

work exchange, mentors and other tools for learning. Since 1992,

OPM has been steering agencies toward more comprehensive training


We will grant agencies a substantial portion of the savings

they realize from decentralizing staff and reducing operating

costs (see chapter 1) to invest in worker training, performance

measurement, and benchmarking.

Budget directives further complicate an agency's ability to

train workers effectively, particularly when its own budget

office, OMB, or Congress cut line items for employee training.

Such over-specified reductions deny employees the access to

skills they need to be productive, to advance in their careers,

and to adapt to new technology.

Action: The federal government will upgrade information

technology training for all employees.33

Every year, more and more federal workers must use

computer-based information technology in their jobs. If business

is any guide, our government reinvention efforts will only

quicken the trend. Pen and paper exercises keep moving to the

screen. Lateral files now form database records. Video- and

computer-based courses make learning possible anytime, anywhere.

Money no longer changes hands; it's transmitted digitally. People

not only talk, they "message." A meeting of the minds can take

place without the bodies present.

Other chapters discuss how we will speed the procurement

process for technology and how we will deploy technology to alter

what we do and how well we do it. Here, we want to stress that

much of the federal workforce lacks the training and background

to use advanced information technologies.

Compared to the private sector, the federal government

invests few dollars and scant time in technology training.34

Federal agencies provide insufficient incentives to motivate

their workforce to seek technology training, scarce opportunities

to obtain training--even when it's desired and necessary--and

rarely incorporate technology training in the strategic planning

process. The longer we wait, the farther behind we fall.

This foot-dragging costs the taxpayer dearly. We do things

the old way, not the cheaper, more efficient way. Or we start

doing things the new way, but we don't go far enough: We buy

computers for our workers, but not the training to use them

properly, so the software and hardware investments are wasted. We

invest in new systems, and our people can't make them work.

Training should begin with top nontechnical managers, to

help them focus on uses, management, planning, and acquisition of

state-of-the-art information technology. By May 1994, OPM and GSA

will jointly develop and administer information technology

training for non-technical managers and presidential appointees.

The New York City Department of Personnel, already in the

technology training business, offers a useful model of monthly
half-day sessions for executives covering ten topics: strategic

planning, reengineering, implementing systems, electronic mail,

video conferencing, voice-enhanced technologies, geographic

information systems, database management, imaging, and

multi-agency complaints and inspection systems. Our effort will

help every senior manager earn a certificate that signifies his

or her level of technology competency. Parallel training and

certification efforts will target Senior Executive Service

members and information resource managers.

Anyone who has grappled with computers--from the basics of

word processing to the complexity of expert systems--knows that

we often learn best how to use software by finding a technology

"pal": someone who knows the ins and outs of a particular

software application and is willing to share that knowledge. To

spread information technology training and use in the entire

federal workforce, the existing Federal Information Resources

Management Policy Council will help motivated agencies set up a

program of collegial assistance for a wide range of technology

applications. We will tap the cadre of techno-proficient

individuals spread across the federal government to provide

occasional on-line help or personal assistance on demand to their

struggling colleagues.

Finally, starting late in 1993, new contracts for

technology acquisition--or those in early stages--must include a

provision for training. If agencies work together, they can cut

such training costs dramatically. When Texas contracted with four

statewide technology training firms to train state employees, it

cut the price to $60 to $110 a day per worker for a wide range of

skills. An even larger customer, the federal government should be

able to land an even better bargain.

Action: Eliminate narrow restrictions on employee training to

help develop a multiskilled workforce.35

The Government Employees Training Act (GETA), which

authorizes agencies to manage and determine their training needs,

defines training as a tool for "increasing economy and efficiency

in government." The rules written behind this 1958 wording

severely limit how agencies can use training today. Training too

often is ad hoc and seldom linked to strategic or human resource

planning. Managers generally are not able to get the information

to determine the return on their training investment. Even worse,

existing restrictions dictate that any training be related to an

employee's official duties--thus ensuring that our Justice

Department secretary does not become a paralegal. These rules

keep federal employees single-skilled in a multi-skilled world.

By early 1994, OPM will draft legislation to amend GETA on

three fronts. OPM will redefine the objective of federal training

as the "improvement of individual and organizational

performance." It will relate the use of training to achieving an

agency's mission and performance goals, not to a worker's

official duties. And OPM will seek to end the distinction between

government and

nongovernment training, giving public employees access to the

best training services available, no matter who provides them.

Clarifying the purpose of training in GETA will reinforce

the need to use training to improve performance and produce

results. Removing the distinction between government and

non-government training will deregulate the in-government

training monopoly, introducing competition that will improve the

quality of learning opportunities for federal employees. And

linking training to an agency's mission will ease employees'

efforts to become adept at all the skills they need as empowered

workers. We urge Congress to join in the quality effort by

passing these important amendments early in 1994.

Management Information Systems

Management isn't about guessing, it's about knowing. Those

in positions of responsibility must have the information they

need to make good decisions. Good managers have the right

information at their fingertips. Poor managers don't.

Good information comes from good information systems.

Management information systems have improved in lockstep with

every advance in the telecommunications revolution. New

management information systems are transforming government, just

as they have business, in two ways. They can make government more

productive--the benefit we discuss in this chapter--and let us

deliver services to customers in new ways, which we take on in

chapter 4. Indeed, today's systems have enabled businesses to

slim down data processing staffs, while giving more employees

access to more accurate data. This shows up on the bottom line.

If federal decisionmakers are given the same type of financial

and performance information that private managers use, it too

will show up on the bottom line--and cut the cost of government.

Sheer size alone would make the federal government difficult

to manage, even under the best of conditions. Unfortunately,

federal employees don't work under the best of conditions.

Indeed, when it comes to financial information, many are flying

blind. It's not for lack of staffing: Some 120,000

workers--almost 6 percent of non-postal service civilian

employees--perform budget, accounting, auditing, and financial

management tasks.36 But when OMB surveyed agency financial

reporting systems last year, it found that one-third were more

than a decade old, and only 6 percent were less than 2 years old.

One-third failed to meet Treasury and OMB reporting standards.

Two-fifths did not meet their own in-house reporting

standards--meaning they did not provide the information managers

wanted. And more than half simply lacked the computer power to

process the data being entered.37

We all know the potential costs of lagging systems: They

contributed to the $300 billion savings and loan bailout,38 $47

billion in nontax delinquent debt, $3.6 billion in student loan

defaults, and so on.

Fortunately, the process of updating our management

information systems has begun. In 1990, Congress passed the Chief

Financial Officers (CFO) Act.39 It designated an OMB deputy

director as the federal government's chief financial management

officer. The Office of Federal Financial Management was charged

with establishing financial management policies across the

government and monitoring agency audits. The act also created

chief financial officers in 23 agencies. The OMB deputy chairs a

CFO Council to deal with improving financial management across


But we need to do more--and quickly.

Action: The executive branch will create a coherent financial

management system, clarify responsibilities, and raise the

standards for financial officers.40

Vastly improved financial management is critical to the

overall effort to reform government. First, it will save

taxpayers money. Trillions of dollars flow through the federal

government in any year; even a small improvement in managing

those funds could recover billions. Second, we need accurate and

timely financial information if managers are to have greater

authority to run federal agencies, and decisionmaking moves to

the front lines. Greater responsibility requires greater

accountability, or the best-intentioned reforms will only create

new problems. Finally, better financial management will present a

more accurate picture of the federal budget, enabling the

President, Congress, and agency leaders to make better policy


By the end of 1993, OMB and Treasury will sign a formal

agreement to clarify their respective policymaking and

implementation roles, to eliminate regulatory confusion and

overlap for their governmental customers. OMB, working with

Treasury and the CFO Council, will charter a governmentwide

Budget and Financial Information Steering Group to oversee the

stewardship of financial planning and management data for the

federal government. In addition, by Spring, 1994, OMB will work

with the existing Joint Financial Management Improvement Program,

which currently develops and publishes financial system

requirements, and consult with Treasury and the agencies to

define exactly what constitutes an integrated budget and

financial system. At the same time, working with Treasury and the

CFO Council, OMB will develop a long-range strategic plan for

linking broad budget and financial information needs to the work

of agency managers and achieving performance goals.

Finally, we will insist on higher qualifications for chief

financial officers. After all, many federal agencies are larger

than Fortune 500 companies. Americans deserve financial officers

with qualifications that match those in our best companies. By

March 1994, working with accounting and banking groups, the CFO

Council will create a continuing education program for federal

financial managers. At the same time, OMB guidelines will clarify

the precise financial functions the CFO should oversee, trimming

responsibilities like personnel or facilities management that lie

outside the CFO's main mission.

Action: Within 18 months the Federal Accounting Standards

Advisory Board will issue a comprehensive set of credible

accounting standards for the federal government. 41

A recent GAO audit of the Internal Revenue Service unearthed

$500,000 of overpayments to vendors in just 280 transactions and

a video display terminal that cost only $752 listed at $5.6

million on the IRS books. Other GAO efforts found the Army and

Air Force guilty of $200 billion in accounting mistakes, NASA of

$500 million, and widespread recordkeeping problems across

government.42 In 1990, Congress concluded that "current financial

reporting standards of the federal government do not accurately

disclose the current and probable future cost of operating and

investment decisions including the future needs for cash and

other resources." In other words, if a publicly-traded

corporation kept its books the way the federal government does,

the Securities and Exchange Commission would close it down


It's not that we have no accounting procedures and

standards. It's that we have too many, and too many of them

conflict. Even worse, some budget and accounting practices

obscure the amount and type of resources managers might leverage

to produce savings and increase productivity.

We must agree on stricter accounting standards for the

federal books. We require corporations to meet strict standards

of financial management before their stocks can be publicly

traded. They must fully disclose their financial condition,

operating results, cash flows, long-term obligations, and

contingent liabilities. Independent certified public accountants

audit their accounts. But we exempt the $1.5 trillion federal

government from comparable standards.

Currently, the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board

(FASAB), established in October 1990, develops and recommends

federal accounting standards for OMB, Treasury, and GAO--which

together must approve them. Although we need almost a dozen sets

of standards, only one has been approved using this process in

more than two and a half years. We need to quicken the pace.

The administration will give the Federal Accounting

Standards Advisory Board an 18-month deadline to release and get

approval of all 11 sets of standards. If it fails, the

administration will replace it with a new, independent board with

greater powers.

Action: The Administration should issue an Annual Accountability

Report to the Citizens.43

The ultimate consumer of information about the performance

of federal organizations should be the American public. As

agencies develop output and outcome measures, they should publish

them. The customer service standards required by the President's

directive on improving customer service, outlined in chapter 2,

will be a first step.

A second step will be a new report card on the financial

condition of the federal government. For the last 20 years, our

government has issued "prototype" financial statements, but no

one can assure their accuracy. Put simply, they would never pass

an audit. We believe Americans deserve numbers they can trust. By

1997, we will require the Department of the Treasury to provide

an audited consolidated annual report on federal

finances--including tax expenditures, hidden subsidies, and

hidden contingent

liabilities such as trust funds and government-sponsored


The Treasury and OMB will develop a simplified version of

the government's financial condition, to be published for public

consumption in 1995. Rather than a detailed, unreadable financial

account, it will be a straightforward description of the money

spent and its effects on achieving goals. We will call this the

Annual Accountability Report to the Citizens.

Information Technology

A few years ago in Massachusetts, a disabled veterans

caseworker who worked to match veterans with available jobs took

some initiative. He decided to abandon his sole reliance on the

state's central office mainframe computer and take his personal

laptop, loaded with readily available software, on the road.

Suddenly, he was able to check a database, make a match, and

print a resume all during his first contact with an employer.

Quickly, he started beating the mainframe. His state

administrator took notice, and managed to squeak through a

request to the Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and

Training Service for grant funding and permission to reprogram

dollars in the fall of 1990. Soon after, 40 Massachusetts

caseworkers were working with laptops. In just one year,

Massachusetts jumped from 47th in the nation for its veterans job

placement rate to 23rd.

Although this story screams success, it is unfortunately the

exception, not the rule. Normally, the Labor Department has to

approve the purchase of something as small as a $30 modem in the

field. Massachusetts got the funding only because it was the end

of the fiscal year and money had to be spent.45

The point stands: When workers have current and flexible

technology to do their jobs, they improve performance. We need to

get more computers off the shelf and into the hands of federal


Action: The administration will develop a strategic plan for

using information technology throughout the federal government.46

Transforming the federal government is an enormous, complex

undertaking that begins with leadership, not technology. Yet, in

helping to break down organizational boundaries and speed service

delivery, information technology can be a powerful tool for

reinvention. To use that tool, government employees must have a

clear vision of its benefits and a commitment to its use.

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