Frequently Asked Questions|
National Partnership for Reinventing Government
(formerly the National Performance Review)
What is NPR and how did it get started?
The National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR), formerly the National Performance Review, is an interagency task force designed to fundamentally change the way the federal government works. President Clinton announced the creation of NPR on March 3, 1993. The President asked the Vice President to report on the findings of this national performance review within six months.
What is the purpose of NPR?
To create a government that "works better, costs less, and gets results Americans care about."
Who participated in NPR's first efforts?
The original task force included about 250 career civil servants and a few state and local government employees and consultants. Vice President Gore participated extensively in this initial phase. He personally led a series of "town hall" meetings in several dozen agencies to learn first-hand the problems and challenges facing employees. In June 1993, the Vice President also hosted a "Reinventing Government Summit" of corporate executives, government leaders, and consultants who were leaders in organizational change. This summit provided a business perspective on reforming the government and private sector approaches to managing change successfully.
What was the focus of NPR's first report?
NPR started its work with an inspiring set of principles and a clear vision of what it wanted to accomplish. Strategically, the Vice President chose to focus efforts on:
Creating a government that works better and costs less by:
- putting customers first
- cutting the red tape
- empowering employees to get results, and
- getting back to basics.
What was contained in that first NPR report?
The Vice President presented the finished report, Creating a Government That Works Better and Costs Less to President Clinton on September 7, 1993.
The "Phase I" report:
- Made 384 specific recommendations on how operations could be improved,
- Was based on 38 comprehensive "accompanying" reports, and
- Detailed 1,250 specific actions intended to save $108 billion (over a five year period) by reducing the number of overhead positions (management, procurement, financial management, etc.).
The Vice President said these efforts would begin the shift from an Industrial Age, hierarchical bureaucracy to an Information Age empowered organization. Within days after the report was released, the President issued a series of directives to implement a number of the recommendations, including:
- Reducing the work force by 252,000 positions, and
- Requiring agencies to set customer service standards.
How did NPR go about implementing the recommendations of the first report?
NPR approached the implementation of these actions at three perspectives: government-wide, agency-specific, and employee-focused.
What was the focus of the second report -- or "Phase II" -- report?
The emphasis of Phase II was on what government should be doing, but also included additional reforms on how to make the government work better. By September 1995, NPR had made approximately 200 new recommendations with an estimated savings impact of nearly $70 billion over a five-year period.
What are the Blair House Papers?
At the beginning of the second Clinton-Gore term, NPR began to look for ways it could be more effective in effecting change in government and spreading reinvention. The task force had originally focused on encouraging hundreds of frontline teams to reinvent their departments or a certain part of the government. NPR decided, however, that it was necessary to shift its focus to transforming entire agencies instead of only select portions -- especially in those agencies with direct impact on the public. This new focus was designed to begin to permanently imbed reinvention in the day-to-day operations of the government.
To signal this new approach, the President and Vice President spoke to the new Cabinet in their first meeting of the new term (January 1997) about the "rules of the road for reinvention" during the second half of the Administration. These were summarized in The Blair House Papers, a series of short essays on different aspects of reinvention. The Blair House Papers included the most successful change tools developed during the first term for agencies to use to further reinvention.
What are "High Impact Agencies"?
To hone NPR's revised strategy of focusing on entire agencies, 32 "High Impact Agencies" were selected for concentrated efforts to transform their performance, even in the face of reduced budgets. These agencies were chosen based on their high degree of interaction with the public, business, or their operational impact on other federal agencies.
These 32 High Impact Agencies employ 1.4 million of the 1.8 million civil servants in the federal system and directly affect 90 percent of Americans. The leaders of the High Impact Agencies committed to more than 250 specific improvements in services to the public, which are to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2000.
An example of NPR's work with one of these agencies is the joint task force NPR sponsored with IRS employees and managers to revamp that agency's operations to improve customer service. NPR's recommendations to this group are still driving major reforms at IRS. In fact, the most notable change is that the IRS has restructured its organization to focus on customer segments (individuals, the self-employed, small and large businesses), and make sure they deliver quality customer service to all.
What are a few of the most recent success stories to come out of the High Impact Agencies?
NPR has worked diligently with the HIAs to improve their dealings with the public by making them more "user-friendly" and cost effective. Some of the 1999 success stories are:
- The Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) and its partners launched a new website -- www.medicare.gov -- to provide families with information about Medicare eligibility, health plans, nursing home selection, and overall wellness issues.
- Over 75 percent of all Social Security recipients received their financial benefits through direct deposit to the personal bank accounts. These electronic transfers saved time, printing and mailing costs, and reduced the number of lost or stolen checks each month.
- IRS and the Social Security Administration eliminated duplicative reporting of information to the IRS and Social Security Administration (SSA). Working retirees no longer have to file a separate report each year with SSA regarding end-of-year earning. This saves not only time for beneficiaries, but also reduces the paperwork burden for both agencies.
These and other examples show how NPR is using electronic government to change how citizens interact with their government.
What are some of NPR's most significant accomplishments over the last seven years?
Accomplishments since 1993 include:
- Overall, NPR recommended and Congress adopted savings of about $136 billion.
- NPR recommended a series of government procurement reforms which Congress adopted. Over the last seven years, those changes have saved the American taxpayers more than $12 billion.
- More than 1,200 Hammer Award teams have been honored for reinvention efforts that they estimate will save $37 billion.
- These and other savings have also contributed to lower per capita government spending. Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, per capita spending has actually gone down for the first time since President Eisenhower. This is all about doing more with less.
- Between 1993 and 1999, the Administration reduced the size of the Federal civilian workforce by 17 percent, or 377,000 full-time equivalent employees. This has resulted in the smallest workforce in 39 years.
- Agencies have completed a substantial majority of the 1,500 recommendations NPR made in 1993 and 1995. They've completed two-thirds of the original 1993 recommendations.
- Some of the recommended changes required Presidential and congressional action. As a result, President Clinton signed more than 50 new directives and Congress passed 90 laws to streamline government operations.
- 850 labor-management partnerships have been sponsored by federal agencies, covering 66 percent of bargaining unit employees.
- 570 federal organizations have committed to more than 4,000 customer service standards.
Overall, accomplishments like these have been important steps in restoring trust and faith in the government by improving the delivery of service to the public. After a 30-year decline, public trust in the federal government is finally increasing.
What is NPR doing to make reinvention a permanent part of government?
In early 1999, NPR began pursuing four strategies that rely upon concerted efforts between communities, federal agencies, and NPR.
These strategies include:
What specifically does NPR want to accomplish in 2000?
In late 1999, NPR reassessed the best approaches to continuing reinvention well into the twenty-first century. In 2000, NPR is continuing its work to make agencies that have the most contact with the public more performance-based, results-oriented, and customer-driven. In doing this, NPR will partner with agencies to achieve these outcomes:
- Customer satisfaction with federal services equal to or better than the business service sector, as measured by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
- An architectural design to enable Americans to have electronic access to all government information and be able to conduct all major transactions on-line by 2003.
NPR is also continuing to work with local and state governments and the private sector to:
- Achieve dramatic reductions in gun violence through partnerships.
- Help states achieve their goals of health insurance for children by working with the Boost-4-Kids network.
- Provide all Americans a seamless learning and employment system to get the job skills they need to be successful in the 21st Century.
What other resources and other information sources are available?
In addition to the links found in this report, please see the sources below for further information:
The National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) website.
NPR's online magazine, REGO.
NPR's primary and supporting reports are available on its web site or from the U.S. Government Printing Office. Key reports
April 29, 2000