Common Sense Tools for the Federal Workplace

Thank you for joining our effort to make our government work better, cost less, and better serve all of our customers.

The federal government is changing. For three years, federal workers have achieved much by;

Federal change champions have used three over arching strategies; 1) developing leadership and vision, 2) creating customer-focused organizations, and 3) fixing the federal workplace.

The National Performance Review is using this website to create, on-line, a framework of common sense tools for federal employees who are leading and implementing these change strategies and those who wish to. The tools are divided into 15 categories. NPR is asking you for help. Please review these 15 categories and give us your reactions and suggestions. In the future this page will be interactive for reinventors. However for now, tell us of any other tool categories, resources, and success stories which we can share with other users of this website.

Brevity works! Describe in no more that 2-3 sentences how you've used a particular tool and where available provide a URL address for incorporation into NPR's electronic toolbox framework. List useful resources or authorities, when relevant. It's also important to include a point of contact with a phone number and/or email address if available so that reinventors can be connected. Our initial 15 tool categories are;

LeadershipPartnershipsNew Technology
CommunicationFinancial ManagementRe-engineering & Streamlining
Customer FocusProcurement & AcquisitionHuman Resource Development
Innovation & LearningStrategic Planning & Performance MeasurementLegal Support
Organizational DesignEmpowered TeamsAdministrative Services

Just a few of the Success Stories from across the government with points of contact. Working together, we can accelerate the pace of government reinvention.
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Common Sense Tools - Sample Success Stories

The Dept. of Energy has undertaken a massive de-classification of most of its files to stimulate a spirit of trust and openness in the energy community. Using executive discretion and the cooperation of the National Security Agency and the Defense Dept., most DOE records can be freely accessed through DOE's website ( and its OpenNet database.
Jim Solit 202-586-1400

The local Maine IRS Office, to reduce tax compliance burdens for restaurant owners and their employees, implemented a statewide education campaign of state and federal tax filing requirements and helpful hints to both parties. In a year, delinquent tax payments made to the IRS were cut in half.
Dan Porter/ IRS 617/575-1765

Each day, every HUD employee when logging onto their workstation receives from Secretary Cisneros the HUD Focus, an electronic message providing Departmental information, re-enforcing the HUD vision, and highlighting success stories.
Charles Cogan 202/708-0120

Customer Focus
The Consumer Product Safety Commission replaced an antiquated phone answering service with a 24 hour multi-dimensional information service. Questions and product information can be received by phone, fax, and at its Internet address ( Answers to product questions can be returned automatically through a menu driven system. Bilingual operators are available for each service mode.
Douglas Noble 301-504-0014

The Boston Office of the Environmental Protection Agency provides staff opportunities to move from behind their office desks to work directly with community groups engaged in cleaning up their neighborhoods.
George Hawkins 617/565-9125

The Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service, and the State of Colorado have established a "one-stop" convenience store for outdoor enthusiasts requesting information about the State's natural resources and for seekers of permits for use of government lands.
Ken Smith/BLM Canon City, Colorado 719/269-8500

The Tucson Veterans Affairs Medical Center implemented a telephone information service to answer immediately any veteran questions or complaints concerning benefit eligibility and prescriptions. This targeted service reduced the workload of urgent care units by 40% improving the quality of emergency care and saving veterans long unnecessary waits.
William King, Jr. 520/670-5243

Innovation and Learning
The Defense Logistics Agency has integrated Alternate Dispute Resolution techniques into its procurement and personnel processes. Employees have been trained as mediators at each of their 200 facilities. At their website ( employees and stakeholders are offered guides and best practices in dispute resolution.
Beth Lagana 614-692-3280

Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has incorporated into its on-going, basic supervisory training a session covering the effective handling of the need-to-know of the general public and the building of skills to deal constructively with the media. Over 1000 frontline employees have participated in the training.
Harriet Bobo 202/927-9510

Re-Engineering and Streamlining
The U.S. Geological Survey handles annually 3.4 million requests from customers for the 130,000 products they offer. By benchmarking and adopting best commercial practices, the agency has shortened delivery times to its customers from 60 days to 5 days or less, and at the same time was able to absorb a 15% staff reduction. Wendy Hassibe 303-202-4617

The Federal Aviation Administration uses a digital voice recording system to streamline its acquisition process and to improve communication with its potential vendors. The streamlined process saved FAA several months in processing time and over $750,000.
Dorothy Sirk 202/267-7895

The Small Business Administration has created a simplified, one page form for loan applications for those customers seeking $100,000 or less. The Low-Doc program has shortened processing times from two weeks to an average of four days. Sixty percent of SBA's new loan approvals utilize the Low-Doc process.
Jim Van Wert 202/205-7024

Using authorities permitted under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, the St. Paul Office of the Internal Revenue Service and the State of Minnesota Revenue Office have developed formal agreements on job exchanges, training, quality assurance, automation, and audit procedures.
Clyde Thurston 612-290-4019

New Technology
The Bureau of the Census has created a website on the Internet ( where most of the Bureau's vast repository of demographic, economic, and business statistics can be accessed and obtained from anywhere in the world.
Alan Balutis (Commerce) 202-482-3490
Bureau of the Census 301-457-4100

The Internal Revenue Service in San Francisco automated paper forms used internally by employees and implemented an automated response system which can be triggered by a phone call. One of the internal processes which had taken over 6 hours to complete was reduced to less than a minute.
Marlena Wong 510/637-2900

Employees at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration are issued "action passes" by Administrator, Ricardo Martinez. If a proposed action is consistent with the agency's mission, legal and ethical, good for the customer, an efficient use of resources, and something the employee is willing to take responsibility for, he/she is encouraged and empowered to take action.
NHTSA 202/366-0123

The Department of Energy encourages risk taking by issuing "forgiveness" cards. Employees receive assurance that management will support them when they innovate even when the outcome is not known.
Florence Blair 301/903-2790

Organizational Design
The Red River Army Depot created self-managed, cross-organizational work teams to develop and implement specific customer initiatives. The new structure has increased productivity of the Deport by 700% and reduced customer costs by 20%. Joe Ann Pippen 903/334-2523

Human Resource Development
The Department of Transportation encourages its Bureaus to utilize alternate work site plans for their employees. Telecommuting, virtual officing, and alternate Federal worksites are some of the work site options available to most DOT employees.
Gail Batt

Let us know your success stories. As importantly, let us know your barriers, too.

Address your comments ... if you
if you fax202/632-0390 att'n Tool Box
if you mail National Performance Review att'n Tool Box
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Washington, DC 20006

Fifteen Common Sense Tool Categories

With input from the Federal community, work has begun on several of the tool categories, however we welcome data and suggestions on all categories.

Sample Tools Within the Fifteen Tool Categories

There are an infinite number of tools available to reinventors. Here are some examples. If you have success stories, resources, flexibilities, and points of contact to share, we want to hear from you. We'll post them for the others on the road of change.

Address your comments ... if you
if you fax202/632-0390 att'n Tool Box
if you mail National Performance Review att'n Tool Box
750 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20006

Human Resource Development

Agencies have considerable flexibility to develop and implement personnel policies and programs in a manner that addresses their own organizational needs and missions. Therefore the primary source for information and assistance in this area is your agency personnel or human resources office.

For more details check out;

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can provide information on Government-wide personnel policies, practices, and programs in a number of areas, including compensation and leave, reduction in force and priority placement, labor management relations, employee performance and discipline, measuring and rewarding employee performance, and others.

Information on these and other personnel topics is available from OPM via three principal sources:

1. Mainstreet is OPM's computer bulletin board, which may be accessed by modem at (202) 606-4800, contains extensive and detailed guidance and information organized by 22 topical "forums". Examples of the forums and the information available on each:

Downsizing/RIF contains copies of current regulations and case law summaries, as well as information on related topics such as buyouts, workforce restructuring, and voluntary early retirement. Publications include:

Employee's Guide To Reduction-in-Force
RIF Benefits Guide
Sample RIF Notices

Employee and Labor Relations contains summaries of the latest case law from MSPB, FLRA, FSIP, EEOC, and Federal Courts as well as guidance on taking disciplinary and performance-based actions, and alternative dispute resolution. Publications include:

Alternative Dispute Resolution Resource Guide
FLRA Negotiability Determinations
LR Implications of RIF and Reengineering
LR Case law on Performance Management
New Developments in ER/LR (bi-monthly publication)
Significant Cases (bi-monthly publication)

National Partnership Clearinghouse is sponsored by the National Partnership Council (NPC) and this forum contains examples of partnership agreements, case studies, and training resources. Among the publications available are:

Training and Facilitation Handbook
Partnership Handbook: A Roadmap to Partnership
1995 NPC Report to the President

Performance Management contains information on designing and implementing effective systems and programs for measuring and rewarding employee performance. Available publications include:

Workforce Performance (bi-monthly newsletter),
Current Approaches to Evaluating Team Performance
Users Guide to Successful Suggestion Programs
Summary of Major Changes - Latest Performance Management Regulations

Staffing provides copies of current Government-wide regulations dealing with hiring and employment issues such as career-conditional appointment, selection procedures, merit promotion rules, use of private recruitment firms, veterans preference, overseas employment, and volunteer services.

Note: In addition to information organized under these and other "forums", listings of the latest federal worldwide job openings, state/local government jobs, private industry jobs, and access to application materials can also be accessed through Mainstreet. This information is also contained in a separate OPM bulletin board system - Federal Job Opportunities Board, which can be accessed at (912) 757-3100. It's also on the internet at

2. FedFax is an electronic document information system, by which basic information on a variety of topics can be obtained via fax by contacting one of the following FedFax numbers: Atlanta - (404) 331-5267, Denver - (303) 969-7764, Detroit - (313) 226-2593, San Francisco - (415) 744-7002, and Washington, DC (202) 606-2600.

Examples of topics on which a "FedFax" can be obtained include:

Applying For A Federal Job
Career Transition
Excepted Service Agencies
General Schedule and Wage Grade Pay Scales
Reinstatement Eligibility
Summer Employment
Veterans Preference

3. Satellite Broadcasts - OPM, in coordination with several other agencies, also provides information on current topics of interest via regular nationwide Satellite Broadcasts which my be viewed in many agencies and most cities with substantial Federal workforces. Information on the schedule and agenda for these broadcasts can be obtained by calling (202) 606-1800. Each broadcast includes segments on current and pending legislation, latest HRM developments, as well as more in-depth coverage of one or more topics.

Some of the topics covered in recent broadcasts include:

Downsizing, What Do I Do Next?
Balancing Professional and Personal Lives
Streamlining Government: Buyouts and Retirement
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Restructuring HRM: Doing the Job with Less
What's Allowed and What's Not Under the Hatch Act

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