Department of the Treasury

Robert Rubin, Secretary

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of the Treasury is to formulate and recommend economic, fiscal, and tax policies; serve as the financial agent of the government; enforce the law; protect the President and other officials; and manufacture coins and currency. Treasury's functions are broad and critical to the nation's well-being and include the following:

Summary Budget Information

FY 1993 (Actual) FY 1996 (Budgeted)
Budget Staff Budget Staff
$10.131 billion 161,100$10.402 billion 153,319

Reinvention Highlights

For over two hundred years, the Treasury Department has been a symbol of stability for the federal government and the nation. But being an old-line agency does not mean we are not open to new ideas. In the last three years, we have taken a hard look at some of our traditional ways of doing things and have begun reinventing Treasury. We are using new approaches and new technology to work more efficiently and serve the public better. We are handling monetary transactions electronically, reducing our regulations, and treating the businesses we regulate as partners. And we are doing these things with fewer people. In 1993, our baseline employment was 161,100 compared to about 153,000 today, a decrease of nearly 8,000 employees in three years. Our budget has stayed basically at the same level -- $10 billion in 1993, $10 billion in 1996. Taking into account the effects of inflation, our budget has dropped. We are now doing more with less.

Handling Our Money Electronically. Whether it is collecting taxes and import duties or making federal payments, Treasury has the world's largest cash flow -- about $3 trillion annually. Until recently, most of the 840-million federal checks going out each year, and the over 200-million tax returns coming in, were paper instead of electronic or wire transactions. Handling all this paper costs more, takes longer, and is not as reliable or secure as doing it electronically. We are bringing the nation's financial management into the information age -- in both collecting money and paying it out.

Taxpayers with simple tax returns are now able to file electronically by phone; about three-million people filed their 1995 returns this way. This year,
instead of making a trip to the public library or Internal Revenue Service office to get tax forms, taxpayers were able to download forms instantly through the IRS home page on the World Wide Web. Over 100,000 files were downloaded on just one day -- April 15. The next step will be to let taxpayers with home computers file their returns directly via their computer modem -- and we are working on that.

We are cutting business taxpayers' paperwork as we switch to electronic tax collection. For more than 40 years employers deposited their federal withholding and employment taxes sending a special form and check to their bank. A 1995 law required a small number of employers (1,500) to start making their deposits electronically, but more than 64,000 employers -- depositing over $300 billion -- have voluntarily joined the program as of June 1996.

Our Financial Management Service is also delivering 425-million payments valued at nearly $700 billion electronically this year. This represents over half its total payment transaction volume and nearly 70 percent of its total dollar volume. Electronic payments are faster, safer, more reliable, and cheaper. An electronic payment costs 2 cents, but cutting and sending a check costs 45 cents (not including the costs to agencies and the banking industy of handling lost, stolen, or forged checks). We expect this to save the government about $500 million over the next five years, and the banking industry estimates it will save almost $400 million each year.

Starting in July 1996, people or businesses receiving new payments from the federal government who have bank accounts will be required to have their payments deposited electronically into those accounts. By January 1, 1999, we are required by law to deliver all payments, except tax refunds, electronically. This includes having in place a convenient, low-cost way to get payments to people who do not have a bank account. To that end, we have been experimenting for the past seven years with giving nearly 30,000 people a plastic card for their benefit payments, which they can use to get their money from an automated teller machine or point-of-sale terminal. We have also begun to deliver tax refunds electronically, even though this will not be required by law.

Regulatory Partners, Not Adversaries. Treasury investigates crimes and enforces laws and regulations involving firearms and explosives, money laundering, counterfeiting, banks, trade, and taxes. As regulators, we are cutting down on our regulations. We are changing our approach by taking a position of trusting those we regulate to do the right thing and by treating them as honest citizens and business people who do want to comply with the law.

To protect people's bank deposits, Treasury regulates national banks and thrift savings institutions to see that their operations are safe and sound. In the past three years, the Office of Thrift Supervision and the Comptroller of the Currency reinvented their approach to supervising thrifts and banks. For example, officials of the Office of Thrift Supervision personally met with numerous people in the thrift industry to get their perspective. Acting on the feedback they received in these meetings, they cut out 40 percent of the paperwork required in the thrifts' quarterly reports and agreed to do a better job in coordinating their examinations. They canceled useless regulations and overhauled 70 percent of the remaining regulations by reviewing, reorganizing, and rewriting them in plain English. The Comptroller of the Currency did the same with all its bank regulations from A to Z. In fact, last year all Treasury bureaus with regulatory responsibilities set goals to eli-minate regulations. Treasury's total target was to eliminate 500 pages of regulations. As of June 30, we had cut out nearly 400 pages of rules.

If a regulatory agency wants to get results, it needs cooperation from the industry it regulates. Some gun dealers told us that in the past, there was a wall between legitimate gun dealers and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). In 1993, the new chief of the Firearms Regulatory Division phoned the executive director of a key association of gun store owners. When he sugges-ted they talk about industry/regulatory problems, the association executive was astonished. This was a whole new ball game. They began talking -- exchanging information, airing their differences, and building a new relationship. This year, the National Alliance of Stocking Gun Dealers recognized ATF's leadership with an award for forging this new partnership with legitimate gun dealers.

This is just one example of ATF's new approach in working with gun dealers, importers, and manufacturers. The industry has profited by becoming part of the process under which they're regulated. ATF now gets better industry cooperation than before. State and local police get help in solving violent crimes as ATF, gun manufacturers, and distributors work with them. We have learned that when you trust those you regulate to do the right thing and work with them, the result is increased cooperation and better compliance with the law.

Doing More With Less. We are doing all these things with a workforce that is significantly smaller than it was in 1993 -- we have cut our numbers from about 161,000 to just over 153,000 -- a reduction of nearly 8,000 employees. At the same time we cut staffing, we have become more productive and done more with less. For example, when we introduced the redesigned $100 bill this past spring (to stay ahead of advances in counterfeiting technology), we did not have to set up a big bureaucracy to do it. A core team of five people, working with an outside contractor and several other federal agencies, designed a worldwide education campaign to make sure people in all countries around the world recognized and accepted our new currency. Our $100 note is the most widely circulated bill in the world. When the new currency came out, it happened without a hitch. There were no problems with people rushing to trade in their old bills for new ones or to exchange their U.S. currency for another country's currency. This successful story is just one example of how we have used minimum resources to get maximum benefit.

Treasury is reinventing the way we do things because we want government to serve the people, not the other way around. We are trying to use good judgment and common sense in dealing with those we regulate, and we are cutting back on the number of our regulations. We are trying new ways to be more efficient and save the taxpayers money. We are doing more with less. The bottom line is that reinventing Treasury is about dollars and common sense.


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