Vol. 3, No. 1
Helping Federal Workers Create a Government That Works Better and Costs Less
Reinvention Roundtable is a 12-page, two-color quarterly newsletter with photographs and illustrations. If you want to be on the hard copy distribution list, fax your name and mailing address to Roundtable, (202) 632-0390.
In This Issue:
* Vice President: Governing in a Balanced Budget World
* Federal Employees Unveil Customer Service Improvements
* Adoptive Mother Is Satisfied Customer
* FEMA Saves Itself and Wins Award
* Ten Things You Can Do Now That You Couldn't Do Before Reinvention
* Working on the Change Gang
* Army Charges to the Top
* Hammer Award Photo Gallery
* Reinventors Sign Pledge
Reinvention Resources Roundup
Reinventions Next Steps
In a major policy address to the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on March 4, Vice President Gore outlined steps that will transform how the federal government operates in a balanced budget world. Citing bipartisan consensus on a balanced budget, the Vice President said the question is not whether to balance the budget, but how. "The budget will be balanced," he said.
Despite fewer dollars, the Vice President challenged agencies to set a goal that "everyone in America will know" that government service is better.
High Praise for Federal Workers
The Vice President praised federal workers for their "help, ideas, and leadership," in making government work better and cost less. He said that some of the most talented people he has ever met are in the civil service. He said that government will work to achieve the following objectives:
Performance Based Organizations--Although some parts of government--like making public policy or enforcing regulations--cannot be measured by business standards, the Vice President said, "Much of government can, and should, operate more like a top-notch business." He proposed creating several Performance Based Organizations (PBOs)an innovation that would require legislation. PBOs would be run by chief executives who sign contracts and would be accountable for delivering results--or be fired. Red tape, hiring barriers, and accounting restrictions would be relaxed for these organizations, which would also separate their policy function from service operations. Legislation is pending to convert the Patent and Trademark Office into a PBO. Other PBO candidates are listed in the Presidents FY 1997 budget.
Visible Improvements in Customer Service--The governments customer service initiative will be stepped up, led by 12 "Vanguard" agencies (See list in Customer Services story on page 1) and building on the customer service standards in place in more than 200 agencies. (The standards are on the Internet at http://www.whitehouse.gov.).
Regulatory Partnerships--"Were going to make partnerships with the private sector the rule, not the exception," the Vice President said. He noted the successes of such partnerships as OSHAs Maine 200 and EPAs XL, Green Lights, and 33/50 that focus on results rather than penalties. These programs work because many corporate leaders share the same goals as government and want to work cooperatively, he said.
New Partnerships with Communities--Every time a grant program comes up for reauthorization, the Vice President said the Administration will ask Congress to turn it into a performance partnership and, if necessary, consolidate it with other programs. We will shift their focus to performance, he said. "Together, federal, state, and local governments will set the goals; then, communities will decide how to meet them." The Administration will also enter into agreements with States to create these new partnerships, modeled after partnerships already created in Oregon and Connecticut.
Single Points of Contact--Housing and Urban Development will appoint a single federal point of contact for every community with more than 150,000 people. "We're going to give the nameless, faceless bureaucrat a name and a face," the Vice President said.
Federal Workforce Transformation--A one-size personnel system doesnt fit all in business, and it doesn't fit in government either, the Vice President said. He expects bipartisan support for legislation to give agencies greater authority to test or demonstrate new approaches. The new law would allow many agencies to design personnel systems suited to their mission, including authority to recruit and hire for all positions. We should give line managers more authority over personnel decisions, he said.
To Get Copies
The March 4th speech is on the Internet at http://www.npr.gov. (Go to the News Room and look under "speeches.") Youll also find Reinvention's Next Steps, Governing in a Balanced Budget World, a background paper supporting the speech. To get a copy, call NPR at (202) 632-0150.
Photo of Vice President. Caption: Vice President Gore holds up an enlarged cover of his book, Common Sense Government, with its new byline (anonymous). "I'm predicting best seller status," he told the National Press Club.
By the end of the summer, federal employees in 26 cities will unveil a variety of service improvements for their customers. Federal agencies, under the leadership of the President's Management Council, are responding to the Vice President's challenge that "everyone in America will know that government is getting better."
The Major Players
The President's "Vanguard" agencies--those with the most public contacts--are at the forefront of the effort. Vanguard agencies are the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Forest Service, Park Service, Customs, Immigration and Naturalization, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Veterans Affairs, State's Passport Services, General Services Administration and the Social Security Administration.
The cities are Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, and Tampa. Federal Executive Boards and Associations will coordinate many of the activities.
Atlanta Prepares for the Olympics
Customer--focused activities began in April in Atlanta, a city busying itself for the Summer Olympics in July. Vice President Gore said, "The Olympics give us the opportunity to use Atlanta and its large federal work force as a model for concepts that will make the entire federal government work better and cost less." Here are examples:
Getting Around--The Federal Highway Administration, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the Olympic Committee cut the ribbon on an Electronic Traffic Management System that will help two million visitors and participants move expeditiously around town.
In the Air--A Hammer Award went to an International Entry Partnership that developed expedited processing for foreign travelers, starting with information to passengers on board airplanes. Team members are from Customs, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Olympic Committee.
It's Your Business--The Olympics Committee, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Administration honored 400 small businesses for their involvement with the Olympics. SBA Administrator Phil Lader announced the U.S. Business Advisor, an online link between businesses and federal agencies.
In addition, on June 24, Commissioner of Social Security Shirley Chater will open the U.S. General Store for Human Services. This one-stop service center was developed by a partnership among many organizations--Social Security, Small Business Administration, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration, Postal Service, and the HHS Centers for Disease Control. Space was donated by the City, and the new store is co-located with the Atlantic Empowerment Zone, Georgia Net, Georgia Common Access, and the SBA New Capital Shop.
They Moved a Mountain
In one of the most remarkable events of all, more than 13,000 federal workers from dozens of federal agencies in the hub of Atlanta moved to temporary quarters spread around the city. Agencies moved between one third and one half of their workforce because they were concerned about traffic congestion interfering with service. One of Georgia's oldest federal buildings, the U.S. Courthouse in Gainesville, became an interagency telecommuting center, one of four to be opened by GSA. Gordon Sherman, Regional Commissioner of Social Security and Chair of Atlanta's FEB, said, "The telecommuting center and other state-of-the art initiatives will help us keep up our world-class service to our customers."
For More Information
For more information about customer service, call Candy Kane at (202) 632-0410. For referral on the Atlanta activities, call Linda Walker at (404) 331-4762.
Raving Fan Department
As federal agencies are improving their services, our customers are beginning to take note. By the end of the year, we want everybody in America to know. Here's an excerpt from an e-mail fan letter for the Immigration and Naturalization Service and Social Security that came to the National Performance Review.
I am writing as a recently satisfied customer. Over the past year or so I have had several opportunities to request service from federal government offices, and promised myself that I would write to someone to express my thanks. I recently heard Vice President Gores speech on National Public Radio, then I went into your web site, and thought I would follow up with a note.
These days we hear so little that is positive about government....But, I have other stories to tell....my husband and I adopted a baby from Paraguay. We had to work with the Albany office of Immigration and Naturalization to get the initial approval. They were wonderful! They were so helpful, and we had our approval within one week of submitting our documents. After hearing so many negative stories, I was really impressed.
Last year when we filed our papers for our son Robert to become an American citizen they really made sure that this was a memorable experience for us. I filed the papers along with another friend from this area who has a newly arrived daughter from Paraguay. A few weeks later we were told that they were going to schedule a special naturalization ceremony for our children in honor of Hispanic heritage month (this was last September). We told them about another friend with a Paraguayan baby who had not yet been able to file the papers, and they said that they would help this family with their papers so they could join us for this special ceremony. And they came through! The ceremony was wonderful, made even more special by sharing it with our dear friends. This was really beyond the call of duty, and much appreciated.
....when we applied for Roberts social security card...we were once again so pleased. Thinking that we would have to wait for months, we couldnt believe it when the card arrived one week later...! Please make sure that your hard working employees know that we appreciate their efforts....
Carol Bianco Gray
Albany, New York
March 9, 1996
Photo of Family. Caption: Thanks, federal workers. Left to right, happy parents Jon Gray and Carol Bianco Gray, 2-year-old Robert and 6-year-old Lainie with Immigration and Naturalization staff in Albany, Officer in Charge Gary Hale and District Adjudicator Officer Kathy Caputo.
In 1993, the Wall Street Journal ran a front page article quoting disaster assistance experts who said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was so bad it would be better to dissolve it than to reform it. Lots of people agreed. A scant three years later, a reinvented FEMA is the winner of the 1996 Federal Public Service Excellence Award sponsored by the Public Employees Roundtable and other groups.
Vice President Gore presented the award to FEMA's Disaster Assistance Program at the Washington, DC, "Breakfast of Champions" on May 6, the start of Public Service Recognition Week. In the last 3 years, America has experienced some of the largest natural disasters in our history. FEMA, in cooperation with its public and private partners, has registered more than 1 million individuals seeking federal disaster assistance in more than 1,500 counties nationwide.
Refocused Mission and Technology Were Saving Features
In these same 3 years, FEMA, created in 1979 to prepare for nuclear attack, has refocused its mission and resources on natural disasters and completely overhauled its Disaster Assistance Program. The program cut in half the time it takes to assist disaster victims and reduced annual administrative costs by about $35 million.
Victims can now register for assistance within hours of a Presidential declaration of disaster by calling an 800 number. Computer application forms have replaced paper forms, saving the time it took to send the paper application to a processing site and enter it into a computer. Using a computer palm pad with a modem, inspectors can now quickly evaluate and process claims. Customer reaction is overwhelmingly positive. An article in The Washington Monthly called FEMA's turnaround "the most dramatic success story of the federal government in recent years."
IRS and GAO Groups Win, Too
Southwest District Internal Revenue Service teamed up with the Arizona Department of Revenue to win the Intergovernmental Award.
The General Accounting Offices Office of International Audit Organization Liaison won the International Award.
For More Information
For information about the awards, call Gretchen Hakola at (202) 927-5000. For information about FEMA, call Calvin Byrd at (202) 646-2686.
The General Accounting Office released new policy guidelines on March 22 that permit agencies to get rid of sign-in sheets and other time and attendance paperwork.
"No excuses anymore. It's time to change," the Vice President told participants at a Reinvention Conference. The requirement that federal workers sign in, he said, is a "waste and indignity."
What Went Before
The Vice Presidents recommendations in September 1993 called for eliminating labor-intensive time sheets and time cards and using technology to enter payroll data on an exception basis (that is, only reporting the hours you dont work).
A 1995 NPR survey on time and attendance in 26 federal organizations showed that most federal agencies do not have policies that require their employees to sign in and out. Nevertheless, most federal workers still have to do it. "Ironically, agencies offering employees the greatest flexibility in arranging their work schedules are also making most of them sign in and out, especially for employees on alternate work schedules," said NPR staff member Laurie Lyons, who conducted the survey for the Chief Financial Officers Council.
The survey also showed considerable confusion in interpreting governmentwide policies, a profusion of approaches, and many requirements embedded in union contracts that will have to be renegotiated. GAO, the agency that released the guidelines, does not require its employees to sign in and out on a daily basis. GAO trusts its employees to complete their scheduled number of hours before leaving at the end of the day. If an employee deviates one hour or more, he or she gets the supervisors verbal approval. The new guidelines will permit agencies to establish systems based on this model, including the use of electronic signatures, eliminating the need to keep paper records. The guidelines are on the NPR homepage (http://www.npr.gov). Go to the News Room.
To Get a Copy
For a copy of the guidelines, call (202) 512-6000. For information, call Barry Grinnell at GAO, (202) 512-9530.
*That is, if your agency is committed to Reinvention
Reinventing government means cutting red tape and ending bureaucratic hassles for federal employees as well as our customers. Weve had several reforms that not only reduce administrative headaches, they save millions of dollars. These reforms resulted from legislation, executive orders, applying new technologies, getting rid of or relaxing government-wide rules, or dusting off old rules and--voilà--finding that we could do some things all along.
1 Your agency can get rid of sign-in sheets and other time and attendance busywork. The General Accounting Office released a revised Title 6 of its Policy and Procedures Manual for Guidance of Federal Agencies on March 22, 1996. Call Barry Grinnell, GAO, at (202) 512-9530.
2 You can survey your customers without getting advance clearance from the Office of Management and Budget as long as your agency has worked out an umbrella agreement with OMB. But, depending on the agreement, you may have to send copies to OMB a week or so before you go to the public. Call your agencys Paperwork Reduction Act focal point or call Jeff Hill, OMB, at (202) 395-7340.
3 You can buy many supplies commercially (up to $5,000 per item) instead of buying from the General Services Administration (41 CFR 101-26.301.b). For the few exceptions, call Henry Maury, GSA, (202) 208-7928, or e-mail: email@example.com. Lots of information and online ordering are available from GSA Advantage! on the Web at http://www.gsa.gov.
4 You can buy what you need with a government-issued credit card, up to the limits set by your agency, and anyone permitted by your agency can have a card. If it costs no more than $2,500, you can use the micro-purchase procedures in the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act (FASA) of 1994. These procedures, which do not require procurement expertise, will be sent to you with your credit card. Call Doris Marsh, GSA, (703) 305-7564.
5 As soon as GSA completes the regulations, your procurement office can simplify its procedures for buying commercial items that cost over $100,000 but not more than $5 million. It can also reduce the number of suppliers it has to negotiate with after getting initial proposals. The Federal Acquisition Reform Act (FARA) was signed into law on Feb. 10, 1996.
6 Your agency will soon be able to buy computer systems, regardless of value, without getting approval from the General Services Administration. The Information Technology Management Reform Act, signed into law on February 10, 1996, repealed the 1965 Brooks Act and made buying computers easier. Its effective on August 8. Call Kenneth Touloumes, GSA, at (202) 501-1126.
7 You don't have to submit receipts for most travel expenses under $75 (41 CFR chapters 301-304). Exceptions are the cost of lodging under the lodgings-plus-per-diem system and a list of 18 specific items that require a receipt regardless of amount. (The receipt threshold for the 18 items is being raised to the standard $75 in a forthcoming FTR amendment.) Call Jane Groat or Joddy Garner at GSA, (202) 501-1538.
Lots of reforms are coming down the pike to reduce red tape for the traveler. Call (202) 512-9201 to talk with staff of the Joint Financial Management Improvement Program. Call (202) 512-6000 to get a copy of their report, "Improving Travel Management Governmentwide."
8 You can stop writing a lot of reports that almost nobody reads. The Federal Reports Elimination and Sunset Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-66), signed by the President on December 21, 1995, repealed scores of Congressionally-mandated reporting by federal agencies and requires the rest to be sunset in 5 years unless specifically extended.
9 You have a choice in what you use to apply for a federal job--a resume like the rest of the world, a new abbreviated Optional Form 612, or even the old Standard Form 171. You also don't have to bother with the 10,000-page Federal Personnel Manual because the Office of Personnel Management got rid of all of it in 1994. Contact: Richard Whitford, OPM, at (202) 606-1031.
10 You can use outside commercial recruiters and you may contract for outside temporary help. With recent changes in law, you can directly recruit, examine, and hire staff. Call Allan Heuerman at (202) 606-2800 to get a copy of the "Template of Personnel Flexibilities" released by the Office of Personnel Management on March 27, 1996.
Is There a Catch?
Yes, there's a catch. Even though many legislative and central control barriers are falling, it takes agency leadership committed to reinvention to use the new flexibilities to create a more trusting, less restrictive environment for federal workers. Not every federal office is a model of reinvention.
The new time and attendance procedures from GAO are guidelines, not mandates. The latest procurement law encourages use of the credit card for purchases under $2,500, but does not require it. One disgusted program official said using the card was so rule-bound in her agency that many managers refused to have anything to do with it. These constraints were imposed by her own agency. "It's short-sighted for federal agencies not to cut their internal red tape, considering the potential big dollar savings," said NPR Deputy John Kamensky. "Travel reforms, for example, can save possibly $800 million governmentwide every year. We cant afford old ways of doing things in a balanced budget world."
From the Field: "There's No Support Yet for the Multitude of Small Reforms"
The Reinvention Coordinator in one agency, chafing over a mandatory publications review process and a burdensome requirement to provide receipts for small-ticket airport parking, provided feedback by way of the National Performance Reviews home page (http://www.npr.gov):
"....Nearly every week we run into problems with offices who make or enforce requirements that need to be reformed, but arent going to be because those in charge are either protecting their authorities or have simply not understood and/or accepted the message of Vice President Gore and the NPR to reduce red tape and eliminate existing roadblocks to progress and change.
" ....The large reforms have had good NPR support, but theres no support yet for the multitude of small reforms that collectively could revitalize the government quickly and create sweeping government improvements."
Two is a couple. Three is a crowd. Eleven is a gang--the "Change Gang" at the Department of Energy--and they never dreamed that one day they would be powerful agents of change.
Yet they've been responsible for getting hundreds of people to commit to far-reaching changes that will better serve the American people and save taxpayers millions, maybe billions, of dollars over the next decade. Furthermore, these 11 people got their converts to put it in writing to the President of the United States.
We are not talking about well-known change agent Secretary of Energy Hazel OLeary and her management team. No. We are talking about a handful of mid-level managers who fell in love with the idea of change and personal responsibility for reinvention. They are running around Energy holding "change summits" to make things happen.
Change Gang members work all over the country in Energy's Office of Environmental Management. They were among 34 Fellows last year with the Council for Excellence in Government. This fellowship program helps participants develop leadership skills though exposure to the best examples in the public and private sectors. DoE Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Rich Guimond challenged fellows to find ways to "accelerate and multiply their efforts to change the status quo."
Spreading a "Virus" of Change
The eleven bought it. They set a goal of spreading a positive "virus" of change throughout the 3,000 employees that manage the Department's $6 billion environmental programs, according to Tom Treger, Senior Environmental Engineer at Savannah River, in Aiken, SC.
"We felt that many people were working--doing their jobs--but they didnt know how to connect what they were doing with the mission of the Department of Energy," said Joe Wienand, Director, Environmental Restoration at Rocky Flats, CO.
"We also knew that many people didn't feel good about what they did and there was a lot of negative response from citizens," said Randy Harris, Senior Environmental Engineer in Germantown, MD. "When I went to my first public meeting as an Energy employee in Amarillo, Texas, people were so incensed we had to have armed guards to protect us."
"My first public meeting as a DoE employee included an effigy of Hitler next to the table where I was supposed to sit," said Joe. "This was a horrible experience, but extremely motivating for me. I set my sights on changing people's attitudes about public servants like me."
Making a Personal Commitment
The Gang decided to sponsor a series of summits to make people feel better about themselves and help them commit to achieving measurable results. "We believed each employee should make a personal commitment," Joe said. "We weren't speakers or trainers. We didn't know how to motivate people."
Each member worked to develop their idea, including nights and weekends. "We read every book we could find on change, leadership, and motivation," said Randy. "We benchmarked corporations like Bell Atlantic and TRW to find out how they trained and motivated staff."
Taxpayers Are Our Employers
They learned that change often comes when people are hit in the heart. They personalized their message, identifying taxpayers as their "employers."
"We figured it took about five people to pay each person's salary on average," said Joe. "We identified five real people with names and pictures. We asked: 'What if, every year, we had to write a letter to each one telling them what we had accomplished with their money?' I could have dropped a pin and heard it 200 feet away the first time I asked 180 DoE employees this question."
So far, the Gang has conducted--or helped others conduct--four summits reaching more than 500 employees ranging from GS-5 to senior executives. Their jobs run from accountant to warehouse manager, from secretary to scientist. "We get each person to identify a key problem, make a plan for addressing that problem, and then commit to achieving a result," Joe said.
In most cases their pledges--aligned with Energy's comprehensive mission and strategic plan--step up schedules and up the ante on savings. These commitments are as complex as the closing of whole sites earlier than planned and as simple as improving the office mail system. Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Guimond gives each person a card entitling the bearer to take one calculated risk without fear of negative consequences. They also get his phone number in case they need to be bailed out of trouble.
The Change Virus Is Contagious
The summits are now open to all Energy employees, and six more events are planned this year. Two Gang members are writing a workbook that change agents in other agencies can use to run summits. "I've already received over 20 requests for our 'formula,'" Joe said.
An Impromptu "Hammer"
The Gang got a standing ovation after their first summit. "It was the first time anyone ever asked me for my autograph," Randy said. When they did a briefing for the National Performance Review, they got a Hammer Award on the spot--the only one ever given with no paperwork whatsoever. What a gang!
For More Information
For more information, contact Joe Wienand at (303) 966-5926 or e-mail: Joe.Wienand@RFETS.Gov.
More than 500 Energy employees have pledged during change summits to achieve measurable results that will clean up the environment for the American people and save millions of dollars. Participants sign a letter to the President committing to results they will each produce for the American people. "We believe that we, individually, can and must take action if Government is to change," the letter says. Here are samples of their pledges:
"I will finish Battelle Columbus decontamination and decommissioning projects five years early and save the American taxpayers over $30 million."--James W. Thomas, Columbus, OH.
"We will demonstrate how to incorporate the "breakthrough" concept into the deactivation process by using this method to shut down the Handford B Plant by December 31, 1998 resulting in a $30 million annual savings and a reduction of 40 percent of shutdown costs currently estimated."--Rick Martinez, Germantown, MD; Jim Mecca and Norman Moorer, Richland, WA.
"I will achieve interim closure of the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site by April 15, 2003 by: the consolidation of 14 tons of plutonium and thousands of tons of hazardous waste, continued operation of no more than 5 of the existing 276 buildings, demolition of other buildings, an uncontaminated buffer zone, a site work force of 500 rather than 5,000 and an annual budget of $50 million rather than $600 million. Total savings for the American taxpayers will be $15 billion or more!!! And the schedule will be 65 percent faster."--Mark Silverman, Rocky Flats Office, Denver.
Photograph. Here's Energy's Change Gang. Bottom row, left to right: Scott Van Camp, Germantown, MD; Joe Wienand and Dave Hicks, Rocky Flats, CO; Malika Hobbs, DC; Suzy Riddle, Oak Ridge, TN; and Mona Williams, Albuquerque. Top row, lt r: Kelly Kelkenberg, DC; Randy Harris, Germantown, MD; Tom Treger, Aiken, SC; Rich Guimond, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, DC; Caroline Polanish, Brookhaven Labs, NY; and John Evett, Albuquerque.
A little piece of plastic is one of the Army's biggest weapons in making war on procurement costs, red tape, and delays. The federal government is replacing part of its bureaucratic purchasing system with a commercial business practice--the credit card--and the Army is its biggest user.
"Individuals get the supplies and services they need quicker and we save money at the same time," said Bruce E. Sullivan, ARMY IMPAC Program Coordinator. IMPAC is the International Merchant Purchase Authorization Card (VISA) overseen by the General Services Administration.
Army Leads the Charge
According to GSA, the Army has the most IMPAC cardholders--more than 28,000, about 17 percent of the federal total. The Army leads in sales, too. For the 12 months ending in February, the Army's credit card sales totalled more than $882 million--29 percent of the federal total. See graphs.
It's not the credit card alone that's revolutionizing the purchasing system, it's also who's using it. The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 established the credit card as the preferred method for small ("micro") purchases (up to $2,500). The law encourages agencies to issue the card to non-procurement personnel.
Army Saved Money
The Army delegated the purchase authority to cardholders, most of which are outside the contracting office. These cardholders now can buy commercial off-the-shelf supplies directly from vendors without waiting weeks or months.
"Implementing IMPAC has allowed users to get what they need faster and has relieved the contracting offices of the burden and cost of processing numerous, relatively simple but time-consuming purchase requests," said Bruce. "There were over 921,000 purchase requests that were never sent to the contracting offices last year because the users went out and got the items themselves with their cards."
The reduction in work going to the contracting offices allowed the Army to leverage its declining procurement workforce and work on the more complex, higher dollar value procurements. Army installations were able to eliminate purchasing and supply personnel. Savings at one command alone were estimated at over $24 million in Fiscal Year 1995.
Secret of Success
Part of the Army's secret of getting people to use the card is in reengineering the process before and after the cards use. "You wouldnt use your personal credit card if it wasn't more convenient than cash or checks and it's no different in the government's use of the card in lieu of purchase orders. We have to make it the preferred method of purchasing for the cardholder," said Bruce.
"We encouraged the use of the card 'bottom up' through streamlining the process and 'top down' by the Army's Chief of Staff, General Dennis Reimer, establishing an Army-wide goal to use the card for at least 80 percent of micropurchases. Publicizing the program within the Army and having personnel committed to acquisition reform are also factors. We have a ways to go to be perfect," Bruce said, "but what's important is we're heading in the right direction--people are beating the doors down to get a card."
Colleen Preston, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition Reform), recently established a Process Action Team to promote and expand the use of the credit card for purchases, payments, and inter/intradepartmental funds transfers within the Department of Defense. Bruce represents the Army.
For More Information
For information about the Army's credit card program, call Bruce Sullivan at (703) 681-7564. For information about the government-wide program, call Doris Marsh, GSA contracting officer, at (703) 305-7564.
VA Medical Teams Are in the Fast Lane on the Information Highway
Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in Milwaukee, WI, and Iron Mountain, MI, received Hammer Awards from Vice President Gore for their achievements in telepathology. This breakthrough technology allows doctors to make a diagnosis via closed circuit television. On the front row with the Vice President, left to right, are Milwaukee Medical Center Director R.E. Struble; Chiefs of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Bruce E. Dunn, MD, in Milwaukee and James Arnold, MD, in Iron Mountain; and Iron Mountain Medical Center Director Glen W. Grippen.
Houston's U.S. General Store Is First in Nation
Vice President Gore presents the Hammer Award to the U.S. General Store. Left to right are: Houston Mayor Bob Lanier; Sandra Ellison, Store Manager; Milt Wilson, Small Business Administration; and Federal Executive Board Chair Harriet Ehrlich. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and George Rodriguez, Housing and Urban Development, were also on stage. The store--a federal-state-local partnership--is the first one-stop store for small businesses in America. Partners include 12 federal, two state, three county and two city organizations. University of Houston interns found a 99 percent satisfaction rate among 3,000 customers. Call Sandra Ellison at (713) 643-8000.
Reinventors from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Minneapolis, MN, and Riverdale, MD, lined up to start a reinvention pledge at the Reinvention Conference in March. L to R with the Vice President are Steven Thompson, Tom Grahek, Margie Thorson, Inez DeCoteau, and Denise Barnes. Hundreds of participants signed. The signatures were framed for the Vice President's office.
Participants took personal responsibility for reinvention, but they also asked the Vice President for support in three main areas: (1) make sure that all political and career managers lead the cause, (2) make it easier to get the waivers and delegations of authority that reinventors need, and (3) protect reinventors from those who dont want change. The National Performance Review will report back to the participants on these and other requests by September.
Vol. 3, No. 1
National Performance Review
75017th St., NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 6320150; FAX 0390;
Director of Communications: Phyllis Anderson
Newsletter Team: Alice Alexander, Wilett Bunton, Denise Clyburn, Jeff Goldstein, Candy Kane, Brent Mears, Michael Messinger, Kelly Paisley, Mike Russell, and Cindy Saboe.
Patricia B. Wood, Editor
We are using various mailing lists to distribute electronic and paper copies of this newsletter. The Roundtable is on the Internet World Wide Web. Type http://www.npr.gov, then click on News Room and look for the Roundtable. We hope you will copy this newsletter and distribute it inside and outside government. We also want you to share your reinvention stories with us. Send them to the editor.
How to Order Bulk Copies
Reinvention Roundtable is published quarterly. The most economical way for federal organizations to get bulk copies is to share costs by "riding" our printing requisition for each issue. We estimate the cost to be about 15 cents each. Ask your agency's printing officer at headquarters or call Steve Jewell at (202) 395-7680.
In a Hurry for Reinvention News?
We also publish Reinvention Express, a two-page information sheet distributed by e-mail or FAX. It has hot news, announcements, and mini reinvention stories. FAX your FAX number to Pat Wood at (202) 632-0390. For e-mail, send an e-mail message to Listproc@etc.fed.gov with this message: SUBSCRIBE EXPRESS-L FIRSTNAME LASTNAME. (Put three spaces: after the word SUBSCRIBE, after EXPRESS-L, and after your FIRSTNAME.)
End Reinvention Roundtable, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 1996