The Oregon Option

So where is the happy medium? We do not want all these Washington rules anymore. But we do want to make sure we get good results for all that money. Well, Sue Cameron and Jono Hildner are up to their necks in the happy medium right now in something called a "performance partnership."

In Oregon, the partnership is known as the "Oregon Option," and it is the wave of the future. (6) In December 1994, Oregon's Governor and numerous mayors and county commissioners signed an agreement with Vice President Gore and seven Cabinet Secretaries. They agreed to pilot a redesigned system that is:

Government reinventors believe in the adage, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." In the Oregon Option, we are following. Through surveys in the early nineties, the people of Oregon sorted out which issues were most important to them like cleaning up rivers, increasing adult literacy, and reducing teen pregnancy. They also set some performance goals -- like going in three years from 18 pregnant teens in a thousand to only 10. They called the goals "Oregon Benchmarks."(7) And they started tearing down the old-fashioned state and local bureaucracy that stood in their way. In 1994, they invited the feds to join them -- to follow their lead. We followed proudly.

"The feds don't make us fill out those stupid time sheets anymore," says Sue Cameron. "And the seven different immunization funds have been consolidated." Jono Hildner adds, "The biggest improvement is communication. I've got somebody in Washington who knows me now, who I can talk to, who understands our problems and helps us get them fixed. I think the feds should be doing a lot more of this."

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