Hammer Award Ceremony
National Partnership for Reinventing Government
Joint 8-Step Streamlined Acquisition IPT
Remarks by Bob Stone
December 7, 1998
Good morning! Today is December 7, 1998-the fifty-seventh
anniversary of the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt said would live in infamy.
It was the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without warning or
declaration of war. The day thousands of American soldiers and sailors lost
their lives in a place then called the Hawaiian islands.
America had been divided on December 6, 1941. America had been in the Great
Depression for over a decade. Americans had lost confidence in themselves,
and in their government. But December 7th marked the end of all that. On
December 7th we became "One nation under God, indivisible."
After December 7th we regained our confidence in ourselves and in our
government. Within a few weeks the Hit Parade of popular songs contained a
ditty called, "They Started Something and We're Gonna End it, Right in Their
Own Back Yard."
We did end it right in their own back yard, and we put the world back
together, and we created NATO, and we kept a powerful standing military, and
we kept the peace, and we preserved freedom in Western Europe and in East
And we believed in ourselves and in our government. By 1963, 76 percent of
Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing most of the
time. But by 1993, it had fallen below 20 percent. This drop occurred
among Democrats, Republicans, blacks, whites - just about every group you
can imagine, including federal employees.
The good news is that this perception is changing. Americans use
"performance" as the key to how they judge "trust." And performance is
improving. And the trust figures have nearly doubled in the past 5 years,
but they're still well under 40%.
We tend to blame the media for government's negative image. But we have to
look at ourselves, too.
A colleague mine often speaks to federal audiences, and asks them to turn to
the person sitting next to them and tell them briefly what they do at work.
She then asks the audience if they'd be willing to have their tax dollars
spent for that activity. Only 5 percent of the audience raised their hands.
They were all shocked by the response. But this isn't unusual. Federal
employees just don't see themselves the way they should.
This is why Vice President Gore created the Hammer Award. We don't
recognize the heroes among us. The Vice President told me he wanted to do
something positive for federal workers. He didn't like Sen. Proxmire's
Golden Fleece Award. He thought it was important to find people and
organizations that were doing the right thing and recognize them.
Too often, government was following the old maxim of the Office of
Management and Budget: "Reward is the absence of punishment." Or what the
DoD Inspector General once told me: "If you're doing something innovative,
you're exceeding your authority."
Vice President Gore wants to reward innovation. He wants to build a better
government and break down bureaucracy. He sees Hammer Award winners as
real American heroes - sailing off into uncharted waters, not sure of their
destination. He wants to tell your story. But we all have to help.
You have a terrific story. You are a team of people from Warner-Robins Air
Logistics Center, from the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base, and
from Raytheon Corporation. Together you created a new way for the
government to acquire products and services it needed when it had only one
Together you found a way to get things faster better cheaper-acquisition
cycle times down from 12 days to 30-50 days, savings of tens of millions of
dollars. Together you found a way to change the way government works-maybe
No $600 hammer in your story. No bureaucrats. No waste that you'd expect to
see on ABC's Prime Time. In fact nothing the American public would see or
hear about anywhere.
Unless you tell them.
That's what I'm challenging you to do today.
You now have been recognized and honored by the Vice President of the United
States. You are now a member of an elite corps of Hammer Award reinventors
who have made government work better, cost less, and get results Americans
care about. This membership also brings responsibility. You already know
about your responsibility to help others replicate what you did; and to
continue to reinvent within your organization.
But there's another responsibility you have as part of this membership: to
tell people what you did and what it means for America.
You'll see lots of people in the next few weeks. You'll go to holiday
parties. And people will ask you what you do. Don't tell them, puhlease
don't tell them, "Oh, I work for the Air Force, or I work for Raytheon."
Instead, try telling whoever asks, "I'm changing government forever. I work
with real American heroes that are strengthening America's defense and
saving the taxpayers millions."
Don't be bashful or modest. If they don't hear it from you, don't expect
them to hear it on ABC Nightline. But if you tell your story-and if all the
other hammer winners tell their story-and if all the federal workers who are
producing results Americans care about tell their story-
Well, pretty soon millions of Americans will have new powerful reasons to
trust their government. And if you don't think it's up to you, ask
yourself, "If not me, who? And if not now, when?
This leads me to one last thought on telling your story. 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 aren't sure
Here's a chance to show them why. Show them your Hammer Awards. And go to
their schools and show the Hammer to their class as part of "Show-and-Tell."
Explain to the class what your command or your company have done to make the
world they will inherit a safer place to live in. It is really important
for them to understand that some real American heroes have names like "Dad"
And when you are done with your show-and-tell, I bet they will applaud.
And, far more than Al Gore, or anybody here, these children will make you
feel like the heroes you really are.
Congratulations for building a government that works better, costs less, and
gets results Americans care about. And thank you for the privilege of
joining you today.