The point of this short book is just to show you that we "get it" -- President Clinton and I understand what's wrong with how the government has been doing things -- and we are turning things around. The battle against the old forces of big government, central control, and mistrust isn't won yet, but everything is moving in the right direction. And, we have a plan to continue the changes.
First, we are turning some of today's agencies into smaller, sleeker organizations that won't look like government at all. They will be like private companies, with a real CEO on contract to cut costs, and a free hand when it comes to the remaining government rules about procurement, personnel, and the like. The British government did this a few years ago, and costs have been dropping steadily. We'll borrow their good idea.
On customer service, we'll stick our necks out even further. The top boss of every agency that touches millions of Americans -- like the IRS and VA and Customs -- is on the line to make dramatic improvements in service this year. There's even a Web page where you can read their specific goals and let them know what you think.(2)
Regulatory agencies are on orders to make partnership with businesses their standard way of operating. We have tested it long enough to know it increases compliance with the laws of the land. After all, compliance is what we're after not meaningless hassles. Now we can move beyond pilot programs for partnership into the mainstream.
The same goes for federal grants to state and local governments. No more having to follow the federal rule books to receive federal funds. We will focus on results and consider replacing many grant programs with performance-based partnerships. And to dispel the last vestiges of nameless, faceless bureaucracy, we will give each of our community partners a single, live federal employee, complete with name and face, who will help them with any and all business in Washington, regardless of which agency's turf it is.
Finally, we are going to do better by our workforce. Any Fortune 500 company would be lucky to have a workforce like the federal government's. We need to invest in it: better tools and training, closer partnership between labor and management, more opportunities and challenges for our senior executives.
All of the progress we have made, and all of our plans for the future are focused on one goal -- restoring the American people's faith in their own system of self-government -- the people's belief that we can solve our national problems by working together through the institutions of self-government. Faith in government is at a low point, and that lack of faith threatens the nation's future. Government can't do everything, and it certainly shouldn't try. But some national problems like drugs, violence, poverty, and pollution can be solved only by Americans working together through our system of self-government. If we lose faith in that, we abandon the future to chaos.
Reinvention restores our faith. Americans find government service improving over the counter and over the phone. Business leaders find federal regulators ready to use common sense and to look for common ground. Communities find the walls coming down between agencies and levels of government, and beyond the old walls they find partners ready to do whatever it takes to solve problems. Reinvention is securing the future of self-government in America.
So, if you see government changing, don't keep it a secret. Tell your friends, your business associates, your neighbors. Tell them government can do things right. I'm the first to admit that government isn't the answer to all our problems. But when government has to be part of the solution, more and more, we Americans can count on getting results.