Background: For the second year, McGraw-Hill, publisher of Chemical Engineering magazine, presented an "Environmental Champions" Award to the top achievers among the companies that participate in the Environmental Protection Agency's voluntary program to reduce pollutants. In 1997, there were 38 champions. For more information, see www.che.com/ec-9711/html/ectoc.htm.
New York, NY
November 19, 1997
A New Way of Governing Good Evening!
On behalf of Vice President Al Gore, let me offer congratulations to all of you environmental champions. You are the people who are creating a new way of governing -- more about that later.
And let me offer a big thank you to the folks here at McGraw Hill's Chemical Engineering, particularly Suzanne Shelley and Rick Zanetti. You are the essential ingredient in making this happen. I don't know whether it was Rick or Suzanne who decided to call this event Environmental Champions "II," but I like it.
At first that Roman numeral two reminded me of "Rocky II" and "Police Academy II." But then I realized that this event is more like "Super Bowl II."
You people are real winners in one of the toughest games around, a game we call regulatory reinvention.
Now, as we say in government, let's get down to business. This is, after all, the headquarters of McGraw-Hill, one of the nation's premier publishing houses. This has to be a great place to promote books. Sooo . . . I happen to have a brand new book by Al Gore called "Businesslike Government."
Did I mention that it is also the fourth book we've published on Reinventing Government? How many of you saw our earlier books? Hmmmm-- we haven't gotten as much attention as we'd like. But we figured out the problem; it's the same one that has plagued literary classics throughout the ages -- not enough pictures! So the Vice President enlisted Dilbert -- and his creator, Scott Adams -- to illustrate key points throughout the book.
This is a government publication, available for sale from the Superintendent of Documents.
But for Environmental Champions they are available free.. There is a stack of copies in the back of the room. If they run out before you get one, just give me your card and I will mail be happy to mail you one.
The book's subtitle is "Lessons Learned from America's Best Companies."
It tells how reinvention has resulted in the smallest federal civilian workforce since JFK's administration, down by 310,000 from its 1993 level of 2.2 million.
There has also been a corresponding reduction in red tape and bureaucracy, leading to a savings of $132 billion to taxpayers -- and the end of the once monstrous federal deficit is in sight.
In addition to rising to the challenge with their own ingenuity and common sense, federal workers at every level, starting out with the Vice President, reached out to the private sector for help.
There are dozens of examples.
Wal-Mart and Eddie Bauer helped the Defense Department reorganize their inventory and supply system. Citicorp, one of the major mortgage lenders in the country, showed the Department of Agriculture how to consolidate its rural development loan program from 2,000 offices to one central location in St. Louis.
As we pulled this book together, we realized how much government resembles business in so many respects. You have personnel and payroll issues, so do we. You have IT issues, and so do we. Heck, we even share the toughest management issue of all --- parking. When government lends money, Citicorp can help. When government manages inventory, Wal-Mart can help. There are wonderful stories of how they helped.
But my favorite part of "Businesslike Government" is the chapter called "Do the Right Thing" -- with apologies to Spike Lee. This chapter talks about just what we are celebrating today -- regulatory reinvention.
The one distinct, unique activity of government at least we thought it was unique -- is regulation. Regulation is the government as sovereign, ordering people about.
There were no private sector models for reinventing regulation.
But we knew that government regulations needed reinvention.
The regulators and regulated community often shared goals--safe and effective medicines, clean air, safe workplaces. But they were at each others throats over the means. And for the most part they distrusted each other. But a few brave souls--including some of the people here tonight--dared to start to trust each other.
And catalyzed by that trust, some very good things started to happen. Looking back on it, I realized that there wasa business model for regulation, after all. It's "quality control." Remember?
In the early days of quality control, the principle was that you would "inspect quality in." Companies had their own quality "cops." The cops would inspect stuff coming off the line, ticket the poor quality product, and good quality would result. And, like most really bad ideas, it worked . . . sort of. Just enough to confuse people.
Then the "Quality Management Movement" emerged, and companies started to design quality in, not just inspect it in. Quality began at the drawing board, continued through the assembly line, and right into the customer's hands. Quality became everybody's job, not some "cop's." It was the result of communication and cooperation.
Regulatory reinvention has followed the same course. For example, when some regulators analyzed their work, they discovered that the real measure of their success wasn't how many tickets they could write it was the results the regulated businesses produced.
OSHA could try to inspect-in safe workplaces, or FDA could try to inspect-in safe medical products, or EPA could try to inspect-in environmental quality, but it was much more effective to work with companies to design the result into the process. And the best way to do that was not through confrontation, but through communication and cooperation. Sound familiar?
Your companies have designed pollution prevention in. Instead of leaving it to EPA to inspect it in. You've eliminated far more pollution than could ever be eliminated through regulation. These results are what we are recognizing today. You have created the proof that a new way of governing can work. For that, I can tell you, the Vice President is very grateful.
Of course the regulatory agencies will always have to deal with a few outfits that don't want to design quality in. But with reinvented regulation, regulatory agencies can focus their resources on them, not on you.
That will lead to cleaner air and water, a healthier environment for our children and grandchildren.
Which leads me to one last thought--one that Elaine Kamarck shared with the winners at the first Environmental Champions dinner. It's often hard for adults to relate to their children or grandchildren about their work. The kids are often proud of their parents or grandparents, but they aren't sure why.
Here's a chance to show them why. Show them your Environmental Champion certificate. And go to their schools and show the certificate to their class as part of "Show-and-Tell." Explain to the class what your company has done to make the world they will inherit a cleaner, safer place. It is important for them to understand that some of the best environmentalists they will ever meet have names like "Dad" or "Grandma."
And when you are done with your show-and-tell, t they'll know one great reason to be proud of you. And, far more than Al Gore, or McGraw-Hill, or anybody here, those children will make you feel like the champions you really are.