NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FOR REINVENTING GOVERNMENT
(formerly NATIONAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW)
Reinvention Revolution Conference
Natcher Conference Center, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland
March 25, 1996
Panel Discussion with
Vice President Al Gore
Joe Thompson, VA
Peggy Richardson, IRS
Joe Dear, OSHA
Gen Philip Nuber, DMA
Thurman Davis, GSA
Don Beard, Interior (Ret.)
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Joe Thompson, I want to start with you. I mentioned your name a couple of times in my speech. Joe is the regional director in New York City for the Department of Veterans' Affairs. As I mentioned two years ago, I was pleased to give Joe the very first Hammer Award. And I asked you then, why did you decide to start changing things. Your answer was memorable, but I'd ask you to repeat it. Why did you decide to start changing things?
MR. THOMPSON: I mentioned that when we had begun the process approximately two years before, we stepped back, took a look at our operations, and we found it, that the results of what we were doing often frustrated, even angered, our veteran customers. And the processes that we were using to deliver those results sucked the life out of our own employees. And other than those two things, everything was going real well.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: So, the way you were doing things angered and frustrated your customers and sucked the life out of your own employees, but other than that it was working pretty well.
MR. THOMPSON: Pretty well. Pretty well.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, what's been the biggest surprise in the last two years since you began changing things?
MR. THOMPSON: The biggest surprise? The fact that irate Yankee fans haven't run George Steinbrenner out of town, not as yet.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Other than that.
MR. THOMPSON: In terms of government, what we were doing, I think the, the biggest surprise is how much we've been able to get done in the last two years. We do have a mission and we have an obligation to continue to, to process claims for veterans, but we've been able to accomplish an awful lot.
When we last spoke, we had just begun converting our assembly line, hierarchical organization, into self-managing teams. We completed that process. We became a pilot site for the Government Performance and Results Act and spent about a year and developed a system of measures that have been adopted for nationwide use by the agency.
We are now involved, we're about that close from getting a signature to become a national demonstration project for pay, moving from the general schedule into a skill- and competency-based system. We've entered into a number of important partnerships, one with a local union, one with our own medical centers who oftentimes the, the benefits offices in the medical centers are two agencies divided by a common mission. We, we've managed to work much more closely with them to help veterans. And, and we just concluded an agreement last week with Social Security to use their data to award benefits for veterans. Often we have the same customers, and they've already filed with Social Security, and now when they come to us rather than bring a birth or a marriage certificate, we're able to confirm that online, which is something we've been trying to do for a while.
So we've had a lot of success. And, oh by the way, we, we relocated the regional office last summer in the middle of all this, so--
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Do your employees like the new approach better? Do the people you work with like it better?
MR. THOMPSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. The, it's, it's much more fulfilling for them to give them some measure of control over their own lives; to treat them as adults; to, to run things based on common shared values and trust versus trying to control the nuances of everything (inaudible). It's been real important.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: In many ways this central insight that drives this whole reinvention process is a, a new understanding by organizations of what human potential is all about and a rejection of the old idea that the employees who are on the front lines can't be trusted to think for themselves, or to exercise any creativity, or do anything other than follow a routine, and the idea that the manager's job is to enforce the routine.
Instead, the new realization is that by far the most valuable resource in any organization is the unused creativity and imagination and brainpower of the men and women who work in that organization at all levels of the organization. And if they are given a, a clear understanding of what the mission is, what, what we're all trying to do, and what that, everybody in that organization is going to do, what the specific goals are, and what the values are on which decisions ought to be based, then there is just no limit to what they can do in taking responsibility and making things work.
And in this case, one of the things you did was get rid of the old way of confronting veterans with a bureaucracy. Every time they called they'd get somebody else and they'd have to find their way through the system. And instead, every veteran had a single member of your office assigned responsibility for that veteran. Every time that veteran contacts your office, that person with the recognizable name and face is going to be able to give a full status update. And if, if holding his hand is necessary because of some stress that he's going through or whatever, or uncertainty, then that's part of it, too.
Peggy Richardson is Commissioner of the, of the IRS. IRS has not seen a budget decline for a long time, but you just did this year, Peggy. How does this change your customer service efforts?
MS. RICHARDSON: We, as you know, view ourselves as being in the financial services business. And what the budget reduction--
MS. RICHARDSON: Just like a bank.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: We're a little sensitive this month, Peggy.
MS. RICHARDSON: That's true. But basically we do the same things banks and credit card companies, insurance companies do: We collect money, we have to get it posted to the right accounts, and we have to be able to provide our customers with information about, about those accounts.
What we've done is not lessen our commitment to customer service, but it really forced us to take a look at how we were going to be able to provide customer service. Our measure had, for many years, been can we answer more telephone calls? Can we have more people come to our office? Can we answer more questions? And we want to continue doing that, but we know we can't just indefinitely increase our staffing, particularly in the face of possibly declining budgets.
So we stepped back and said, okay, what can technology do to help us and what can our, can reengineering and reinvention really do?
Technology is allowing us to provide alternative ways for people to file their returns and make the payments. This year we've had over two-and-a-half million filing using the telephone. We're expanding that, and I think in the next several years all kinds of options for people to file electronically. We also have big employers now making payments electronically.
But the other thing that we've done is we've looked at alternative ways of getting information to people. We have a new home page on the web site that's been referred to as almost witty by The New York Times, but it has all of our forms--
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I, I, I saw that on the, on the web recently. And you have the guy, something about--
MS. RICHARDSON: From Neptune.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: --Neptune.
MS. RICHARDSON: Um hmm. He's phoning in his tax return from Neptune.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: From Neptune.
MS. RICHARDSON: That's right.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Neptune, Nebraska, or something like that?
MS. RICHARDSON: Right, right. But he's our first telefile filer.
But what we've been able to do is put all our forms and publications at our, on our web site and, as well as the answers to many of the frequently asked questions. The information is there in hypertext so that if you go in and find a, an issue or word you want to find out more about, you can click on it and go right to the, to the information. You can download forms. If you're not filing electronically you can download the forms and use those forms to file.
But the other thing we've done, and maybe the most exciting thing, is take a real look at why people were calling us. People want information; they don't necessarily want to talk to us, I'm sorry to say. And so we have taken a look at the notices we send out to people and we're able to eliminate 16 notices of our high-volume notices, and that's almost 46,000 times a year they've gone out. So you know--
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Hmm. Do people miss hearing from you?
MS. RICHARDSON: Well, I haven't had any letters to that effect. We, not only are we hoping it will cut down on the number of phone calls, we've actually hope to lessen people's burden because sometimes when our return address is on an envelope people get a little bit uncomfortable.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah. How, how do you measure performance and customer service?
MS. RICHARDSON: Well, I think one of the biggest measures is, is how many more people can we serve. And we're, we know how many more phone calls we can answer and how many people are using our automated telephone system to get information tape as opposed to a live assister.
We've also got focus groups. We're trying to get feedback from them about the kinds of services. And our e-mail system on the web site, we're getting a lot of feedback on the home page as well, people asking us to provide different kinds of information, to look at things a little bit differently.
So we're using a whole host of things. And have to confess, and Joe and I've talked about this quite a bit, it's, performance measures are harder to come by then you might really realize, especially, obviously we collect more money, that's one major measure. But we don't want to, we don't evaluate individual employees by how much they collect so we need to find other ways.
But reducing taxpayers' burden is one of the things we're looking at.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Okay. Joe Dear with OSHA is somebody I've talked about quite a bit in connection with this very topic of performance measures. You're in the vanguard of this regulatory reform effort, Joe. And one of the things that you discovered is that when you measure things, when you measure performance by how many fines are levied or how many citations are issued, then the employees who want to do a good job, according to the way they're measured, are going to issue a lot of fines and a lot of citations. But that may or may not have anything to do with whether OSHA accomplishes its mission or not.
Tell us a little bit about what this has meant at OSHA, this new approach.
MR. DEAR: Well you've got the essence of one of our major challenges: How do you measure performance of a regulatory program? In the old way we counted how many inspections we did. That was the primary driver. It's how we ask for monies, how we measured everybody's performance, and then the single best measure of the quality of an inspection was how many violations we found.
Well, guess what? We have OSHA inspectors meaning well, going out and telling employees, well you know, this looks pretty good but I'm sure I can find something wrong here to make it work. So in 1991 OSHA issued 5,000 citations for failing to have a poster up and charged employers $400--
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Each time?
MR. DEAR: --each time. No wonder small business thinks we get our budget from the penalties we collect.
Well, last year we said no more of this. Let's talk about enforcement where it makes sense. But where a partnership approach makes sense, let's do that. So if there's no poster up, go to the car, get a poster, and give it to 'em. So we had two poster citations at the end of 1995.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And a lot more posters up.
MR. DEAR: A lot more posters up and a, and a new approach.
But this notion of partnership, of being able to distinguish between the low-road employers, where enforcement's what you got to doyou just absolutely have to block the low roadand the high-road employers which we can recognize. It's those middle-of-the-road, the employers who are trying but they haven't quite got it right. Well, you hit 'em with a big penalty or do you try to coach 'em? You try to give 'em an opportunity. And we created some methods of creating opportunities for those middle-road employers to become our partners.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Hmm. Um hmm. Maine 200 was the, the place where this initiative really began, wasn't it?
MR. DEAR: Yes.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: We were impressed with it very much, the President and I, and asked you to take it nationwide. In the process of taking these innovations at a single office and then applying them all over the country, what can you tell us about the particular dangers, and hazards, and problems, and opportunities that you encountered in trying to scale up from a, a single site that was doing it just tremendously well and applying that everywhere?
MR. DEAR: It's like herding cats. People run off in their own direction--
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah.
MR. DEAR: --and other people are stuck where they are, very comfortable, not wanting to move, waiting to see what happens, is this really going to work. But I have to tell you, Mr. Vice President, we told you about the Maine 200 program and you said that sounds pretty good. And then about a week later you told 2,000 delegates to the White House Small Business Conference they were going to see it everywhere across the nation.
Well, you know after I got over the shock, now that we know what we're going to do, the question is how. How involves defining what this project means. And if it's a program called Maine 200 and you're trying to sell it in Texas, you've gotta come up with a new name for starters. So it's now the Cooperative Compliance Program.
Second, we have to create clear incentives in the organization to deliver. Now, you did that with me and Secretary Reich. I mean I know what my job is, and so do all the people who now work for us. Our number one goal in reinvention this year is taking the Maine 200, the Cooperative Compliance Program, nationwide.
And third is you've got to show to show support. You just got to be there. When a manager comes, says well I want to do it but I can't get the data because the site-specific data we had in Maine, the workers compensation data that told us who had problems and where to go, isn't available in every state. So you say, well how about this, how about that to get some support for a variation?
And then a last effort is when somebody accomplishes a program, celebrate it. I mean we, we got a map on the wall and it has the states, and we check 'em off as we, as we add 'em to the, add 'em to the program.
But I find this is to be, this is one of the, of the real challenges because unless people sense that this effort is really going to make a difference where they are, and they have the confidence that if they embark on that change, that if they go out and they create a partnership, that somebody isn't going to come back around and say, you trusted somebody who's untrustworthy, you're failing in your mission of enforcement of the law, and you are incompetent. And that fear is very large, it's really large. To support, to support that effort to create the environment in which, as you said it, the people's ability can come forth--
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: We've got to be willing to tolerate some mistakes and forgive some missteps in the effort to try to innovate and do things better. The best managed businesses do that on a routine basis and will often tell their employees if you're not making X number of mistakes a week you're not trying hard enough. Because you want to be out there pushing so hard that you're beyond the routine and the, the, the well-known, and you're actually trying to push the envelope and, and get it much, much better.
And if the culture exalts in jumping on somebody that makes a little mistake and triumphs in the phrase, "Gotcha!" and then suffocates that one mistake with a new layer of regulations and procedures and rules, then nothing ever gets done. And that's been the approach that government has taken. And, and some, some of, those of us who have been in the Congress, running oversight hearings, have sometimes contributed to that. I know I did when I was in the Congress. I know the news media sometimes contributes to that approach, some managers do.
But the truth is if we're really going to create a high-performing government, we're going to have to be mature enough to recognize that innovators will make some mistakes and keep 'em in perspective. If somebody keeps on making mistakes over and over again you got to deal with that. But if somebody is doing an outstanding job and is a little bit too enthusiastic on a, on an idea that maybe you would have stopped, you know let's change the philosophy a little bit.
Major General Philip Nuber is director of the Defense Mapping Agency. I want to talk about benchmarking, General. I know that you're using benchmarking, and I'm wondering how you use the experience of others in the government in the reinvention labs and in the private sector to, to trigger improvements.
GENERAL NUBER: Okay, sir. I can, I can talk to that. In fact I, when the management gurus came out with the term benchmarking I was pleased 'cause I used to call it my lazy man theory, which in essence is if someone else has already done something and it's a good idea you ought to, you ought to just go see how they do it and learn from them and don't waste a lot of time and effort figuring out on your own. And as we've been here today I've, some of my people are here. I, I, I point at them. We're going to learn more about the personnel thing that you mentioned. And I was pleased to see, and I'm soon to be a veteran so I'll maybe talking about the, the new approach in Veterans' Affair.
And so we go, send people to government agencies and out into industry to find out how, how they do their job and particularly if, if they're similar. And in the personnel business which is, as you suggested in your remarks, the most important but probably the most difficult. I've sent my people to, the people in DMA, to industries and others to, to look at how they, how they take care of people and we, we invented our, our system of how people are graded. We've done away with that and everybody kind of rates everybody.
And we have an internal, for the agency because it's spread out in several locations we have a best practices and because you know there's admin procedures everywhere. And we just try to find out who in our own agency is doing the best job and say why don't we all do it that way.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Hmm. How did you get, how do you get your employees to buy into this program?
GENERAL NUBER: By making them part of the process. When we started this reinvention after I became the director of the Defense Mapping Agency I went personally to all 7,000-plus employees and gave them the briefing on why we were doing it and what we were going to do. And then we established the core values and the strategic plan and put it out over Internet and e-mail and every other possible way and asked them to comment on it and said because it's going to be your plan, not, not mine, not the director's plan. And everybody responded and we, we'd take their, their comments. And I sent the senior executives that work for me out to have smaller group meetings and discuss everything.
And then they can send me e-mails and, and they do. And so I'll go talk to 'em or else I'll write 'em back.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah. Incidentally, on this benchmarking process one of the examples that I often use is from the Air Force. The Air Combat Command was an early reinvention site and beginning long before I got involved in it. And so I went there to learn some lessons from them.
And one of the things I found out is that couple years back when Walmart, known as a very well-managed business, decided in one southern state to go into the pharmacy business they routinely used this benchmarking approach. And they looked around to see who was the very best in the pharmacy business. They went to the Air Combat Command to do their benchmarking because they had by far the best service delivery of anybody, public or private.
So y'all are doing--
GENERAL NUBER: I was a colonel there.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Oh, oh, is that, okay, well--
GENERAL NUBER: Yes, sir.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: --that's the inside story, then. Thank you.
Thurman Davis is deputy administrator at GSA. Thurman is a career civil service employee who came up through the ranks. Most recently he was GSA's regional administrator in Philadelphia.
Thurman, during your career you must have often looked at Washington and wondered what on earth those people could be thinking when you looked at some of the instructions and mandates. Now you are Washington, in an environment of change and downsizing. How does your background help you deal with the fears of middle managers in this new environment?
MR. DAVIS: I think that what we have learned while we were in the field, both here in Washington and in Philadelphia, has helped us immensely to, to not to forget to get back out in the field and stay in touch with our middle managers, number one. Number two, to involve them in the process. This is a theme you're probably going to hear over and over again. The real secret of, of, of helping our middle managers deal with their fears is to keep them involved with what we're doing, let them participate in the decision making process.
We've just finished, for example, a fairly extensive analysis and benchmarking session of all of our 16 major business lines. And we involved not only our middle managers but all of our colleagues up and down the line at GSA in that process so that it could, we could all understand where we were trying to get to and how we were trying to get there.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Um hmm. Um hmm. What, what, what has the reaction been?
MR. DAVIS: Very positive. I mean obviously there are some, there are always anxieties because I think there's, there's change. But at the same time there's been a very positive attitude on the part of all of our employees and my colleagues in terms of understanding what it is we want to do. We developed our, our, our mission statements together, we've developed our goals together, and we continue to focus on those.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Um hmm. All right. Thank you.
Dan Beard is the former Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation. Dan, a little while ago you left the Administration but while you were here you did some very dramatic things to change the relationship between the headquarters and the field operation. What do you think that people out in the field would say Dan Beard did for them while you were here?
MR. BEARD: It depends on who you ask, I guess, Mr. Vice President. I, I think the best way is to relate a story that, an experience that one of our region directors had.
We, we had when I started 8,000 employees but only a hundred in Washington and all the rest were in the western United States, with five regions with about equal number of employees in each region. And after we'd gotten through our process a regional director called me up and said, you know I read a book today about our business. And then there was this long pause and I was thinking something like, well was it Run, Spot, Run, or you know something else that was cynical. And then it dawned on me what he was saying. He had spent his entire working life plowing through the in-box, putting things in the out-box, attending meetings, but never thinking.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Um hmm.
MR. BEARD: Never doing what, what he really should be doing, which is leading others.
He was, like most people in the field, and our, our organization was all out like all of yours, the people out in the field would get a question, they would write it out, put it in a, some kind of a delivery system like a balloon and let it go up, and wait for the answer to come back down from Washington at some point. And by the time they got the answer they probably forgot what the question was.
So I think what we did is we gave them a new lease on life. We gave them a sense of responsibility, a sense of excitement and enthusiasm. And I think the more important thing is for many people we saved their jobs. I mean we were losing our most talented employees because we were not a very interesting or enthusiastic place to work. They, they, if you just took orders and passed it on to the next level and then waited for something to come, and then, and then you'd hand the answer back and somebody'd say, well why did they say this? And a lot of times our employees didn't know. They'd say, well I don't know, which was very embarrassing for them.
So what they were doing was they were leaving, and we were losing our best people. And so I think that's the net effect of moving decision making out and trusting people is the, the best thing you do is that you, you, you save the jobs and you save the best people. And we create an enthusiastic organization.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Tell us about the forgiveness coupons you printed up.
MR. BEARD: Well, I think the biggest problem any of us have had is cynicism. All of you have heard all this before at one time or another. I had, too. I spent 22 years in the federal government. And so when I came in I said, we're going to change the organization. I'm going to delegate responsibility and authority. And everybody went, yeah, yeah, yeah. We've heard this before.
And so I was talking to one of our employees in Yuma, Arizona, and I said, so what's, what's the word? What's in the grapevine you know? What do people think? And they say, well, great ideas but what happens the first time they screw up? I mean something goes wrong. They're all afraid you're going to come down on 'em like a ton of bricks. And I, there's, you know that was a good comment to make and I thought a lot about it.
And I, then I heard a, a consultant who was talking about forgiveness coupons, so I stole an idea from the consultant, which I thought was sort of a monumental achievement.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Usually the other way around, isn't it?
MR. BEARD: Yeah, I know. What is it Robert Townsend said? A consultant is somebody who takes your watch, tells you what time it is, and walks off with your watch.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: He also said it's somebody who walks around the factory floor and listens to what the employees are saying, and then charges the boss to tell 'em.
MR. BEARD: So what I did was that I gave every area manager, regional director, and program director two cards. And the cards said, it's easier to get forgiveness than permission. And the cards were a system in which if you, something happened and you, somethin went wrong and people started to yell at you, you pulled out your card and then you waved the card. And then the rules of the game were you had to stop yelling at the person.
You then had to, I said we would talk, we would always differentiate between intent and reality you know. What happened, why did it go wrong? But we all lived by those rules for, for the years that I was there. And we did use those cards.
The other half of the, the rules, the rules for the game were that each employee who got these had to use them in the year.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Hmm.
MR. BEARD: So when I passed them out and I explained the rules, somebody, there's always somebody who's smart. They, they raised their hand and they said, you mean I have to use, I have to make a decision which is controversial or could potentially have people mad at me the next year? I said, yes. And there's a long pause, and people began to say, well what if we don't use 'em?
But, and then the next hand that went up, you'll, everybody in this room who's a federal employee will appreciate it, the next hand went up said, well I just used my first one. I said, oh yeah? What's that for? He said, I just printed 16 more.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: There's certain parts of the Air Force, General, we declared ineligible for the forgiveness coupons.
GENERAL NUBER: I've used a lot of 'em.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Let me, let me invite you all to, to participate in this discussion. What have, what have you found that changed your assumptions about what your customers want? Can anybody provide an answer to that question? Or would anybody like to ask a question of these participants? I'd like to, I'd like to learn from, from all of you. I'm interested in what you have found in your work that changed your assumptions about what customers want.
One example I use, incidentally, frequently is from Oregon at the Department of Motor Vehicles where they redesigned the driver's license application process. And they assumed that the long waiting lines were the main complaint. And just before they implemented the new system they did a customer survey and they were shocked to find that that was not it at all. Instead, it was the, some of you know this already, but it was the, the number one complaint was the picture on the licenses because people waited in line once every five years but they took that picture out of their wallet you know several times a week. And so they, they learned something by asking their customers.
Has anybody, did you want to, yes, sir.
MR. : (inaudible) laboratory, (inaudible) reinvention laboratory and the GPRA pilot. For the past 40 years the defense laboratories have been studied by all those blue-ribbon commissions that you referred to as to how to make their jobs more effective. And without exception every one of those studies said that the civilian personnel management system was the biggest problem.
The FY '95 defense authorization bill gave the Secretary the authority to establish demonstration projects in the science and technology reinvention labs in the Defense Department specifically. They're about a dozen of us. So we all went out and started to put together plans, some of 'em very innovative, and we fired them up the approval channel. And they ran into the personnel and manpower folks and hit a brick wall.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Um hmm.
MR. : Now, let me emphasize, these were not the civil servants. These were the political appointees that did this.
We've got an awful lot of very cynical people down in my little corner of the government, the R&D world, that think that a lot of this reinvention stuff is just nibbling around the edges.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Um hmm.
MR. : Is there anybody that's going to take on the really hard issues?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yup. See me afterwards and we'll, we'll, we'll fix that for you.
The demonstration authority on civil service reinvention is currently limited by law. There is a cap on the number of projects that, that can be underway at any given time and a cap on the number of employees that can be affected. That is why we're submitting this new legislation, and I mentioned it in my, in my speech a few moments ago. We want to remove those limits.
And it is very common, as I also mentioned in my speech, for initiatives in the area of reinvention to run into vestiges of the old culture, the old approach. And we are, every time we find out about one we go after it and remove the obstacle. And if, if you will talk with me or Bob Stone right here in front at the end of this particular session here, we will fix that particular problem for you. I guarantee it. Did you hear that, Bob?
Yeah. Somebody else want to--yes, right here.
MS. : Ours is a little bit different situation. You were down in Houston on Monday last week to visit our U.S. general store, which is the collaboration of a lot of agencies and private partners. And we did get a surprise when we opened that store within 78 days. We're sort of playing it as we go along, without a lot of planning, without a lot of rules.
And we thought that the technology was going to be very important in the beginning. We have the Small Business Advisor. People can access regulations and find out all they need. But what we found, to our surprise, is that the big deal and the real excitement about this store is the ability for a small business person to come in and get a federal contract, which they never could access before. Now, once they do that, once their business expands and once they become a sizeable kind of a business, I think then they're going to be using that Small Business Advisor a lot more.
So we didn't really plan for that. And our store manager, Sandra Ellison, who's with me today, has seen the traffic go up to maybe 60 people a day when it was only five or six or ten people a day. So that's all happened within the last eight months since we started it.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's great. Thank you. I enjoyed being down there.
And the, the Small Business Advisor, incidentally, is a, a new service available over the Internet. And how many of you have made use of the worldwide web or other parts of the Internet in your reinvention work? Okay. For those whose hands didn't go up, it's worth exploring how this new resource, this new tool can be of assistance to you.
And we, on the small, U.S. Small Business Advisor we've had rave reviews. But we put out the first version, and then after it was running for a while we asked businesses for feedback. They, they loved it but they wanted to change almost everything about it.
One quick example. We, the first version had a full-color picture of the President right at the beginning and a full-color picture of the Vice-President right at the beginning. And evidently many of these small business owners are Republicans--
--because in the feedback, something about feeding the meter while your machine was downloading these full-color pictures didn't sit well. So we, we changed that. Now we have little, postage stamp size picture on, in the, on down in the program.
But the worldwide web is a great tool and it can be a stimulus to new ideas on, on reinvention.
Someone else. Yes, right here.
MR. : I'm Bill _______. I'm from USDA APHIS. And I've got a question for the panelists. It's just kind of a general question. I've been working as a internal consultant in government, for two years in APHIS and with, for Donna Shalala before that over at HHS.
One of the challenges that we run into, and I, it's beginning to be addressed by initiatives like the performance-based organization approach and getting rid of some, the demonstration projects, getting rid of some of the personnel and classification issues that have continued to get in our way in our change initiatives. The, the, I guess the question I have for you all is we have change agents, the people who are out there really doing this who get burned out, who get, do not get recognized and rewarded. What do you do, what have you done to protect, revitalize, promote, and support those folks who are really, they're not the folks getting in the way. They're the folks, the, the people engaged in the guerilla warfare. Any suggestions or insights? We're doing a lot of reinvention but we've still got a lot of those barriers.
MR. : We had a, an experiment running in one of our Atlanta offices that went, became a learning experience, to put it that way. You don't like to admit mistakes. But it was very much a, a case where we had an unclear notion of empowerment, where we didn't have a boundary you know, finding the boundaries between empowerment and, and, and regulation is really one of the tough issues. I hope you all, you all deal with that.
Anyway this office and his union partner, they got, they got really crosswise with major stakeholders. I mean letters to the Secretary. It was trouble. And what I tried to do was make sure it was understood that in my view the problem stemmed from the lack of a boundary, from parameters being set, not from a mistake at the local office. And we had an award ceremony in Washington, D.C., and I flew the guy up and made sure the deputy secretary recognized him and his union partner so that we tried to show to the organization that he did have some protection and that somebody wasn't going to go out and take the fall because something happened. It wasn't a, you know there were mistakes made but they were shared up and down. So we tried to build some protection.
If I could just take one other minute.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Sure.
MR. : I can't miss an opportunity. Can we volunteer to be one of these performance-based organizations and get out of some of this overhead stuff?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Absolutely.
MR. : Okay. Thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Absolutely.
The whole (inaudible)?
GENERAL NUBER: One of, several things that we did in the Defense Mapping Agency and, and it was a, a risk-adverse organization that had multiple layers of bureaucracy, when we reengineered we did away with eight layers of bureaucracy so you didn't have as many people checking on people, checking on people, checking on people, and we gave them other jobs.
And then we, then I just created a bunch of awards. I give risk-taker awards, I give team, teamwork awards, I give directors awards, and I you know on and. And somebody said well, what about the risk taking? Is it, what's the rules? Because you failed or because you succeeded? And I said, I don't know. Why, why do we have to have a rule? And so I just give 'em out when I feel like it.
And I, but generally I go to the location where those people are and, and recognize in any possible way great working together as a team. And, and in the map business there's lots of opportunity to do that. But, but I think you just have to, and the other senior executives have to be out there. And if a CINC sends me a letter or message talking about some great, great deed, trust me, I don't know how to make a map and don't even care to know how to make a map, quite frankly, I think, but, but I make sure that the people that did that work know that the CINC said kind words about 'em. And that happens a lot.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you. Dan?
MR. BEARD: I think you put your finger on one of the most important issues, and that is how do you create belief within an organization that we're really serious this time? And people always ask me that, particularly other political appointees would ask me you know, why are you doing this? Because political appointees get their job because they're policy wonks, not because they're good managers. I mean nobody ever asked me if I could manage 8,000 people, which they should've, I think.
Nevertheless, one of the things that I made, symbolism is terribly important in a bureaucracy, and no matter how innovative the bureaucracy. And I was careful everyday and I made sure that all the regional directors and all the program managers and the other people, senior executive, were aware and we talked a lot about the need to, to be very careful in the kind of symbols and the signals that we sent. Because if you send one little signal that somebody who took a risk is going to be penalized for that, if throws a chill on the, it's like ice water on the whole organization. And everybody will burrow back in and they'll say, well they aren't really serious.
And so we had a lot of people who got pats on the back and rewards when they did some really stupid things. But we couldn't say, you know we couldn't say publicly that it was the wrong thing to do. It's, it's very important, and I think that extends whether to you're the head of an agency, head of a program, or the head of a group of people. And awards are the one thing that we can give in government and recognition, and we spent a lot of time, like General Nuber, on, on that issue as well.
MR. : (inaudible)
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah.
MR. DAVIS: Yeah, spent a, we spend a, have spent a lot of time at GSA trying to redesign what was called our suggestions programnow it's called our solutions programand did it from the bottom up, primarily because, again, rewards are important but they're important as to who gets them, too. And there needs to be fair, fairness and equity in that process. And the people who helped design this process helped us understand what that meant: what do you consider to be a fair and equitable solutions program?
And so I think that's something else (inaudible).
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Someone else?
MR SANDERS Mr. Vice President, I'm going to exercise my forgiveness coupon and tell you you have one more question.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right, down here in front.
MR BYRD : My name is Calvin Byrd. I'm with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And back in, under the leadership of James Lee Witt, and back in 1993 the agency was working under the assumption that what the customer wanted was a quick and a big check. We conducted a survey of over 5,000 disaster victims and customers, state and local level, and what we found out is that what the customer actually wanted was the opportunity to listen, to talk to a FEMA representative and to share their story, to talk about the disaster that occurred, how it devastated their family, and how they'd like to get back on their feet.
So we found you need to listen to the customer, actually find out what is it that the customer wants, and not to assume that the customer is looking for a quick check and a big check. So I think that was very rewarding, and under the leadership of Director Witt we began to work on that premise, that we want to serve the customer.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Also, you also found ways to use new technology after the Northridge earthquake in California, for example. The FEMA folks went out and used these hand-held computer pads. And it used to be that the paperwork that was filled out and mailed in, and, it, it, it was such a nightmare, but by using these computer pads they would put the information right into the computer. And at the end of the workday, using the telephone line, they would electronically download it and then in the same process receive their agenda for the following day.
And it's been that way after every major--
(END OF SIDE ONE, TAPE B)
--disaster in, in the last three years. And we, we congratulate what you all are doing.
I wish I had more time to, but I have to go back to the square office that I mentioned before. I want to, I want to close by offering my congratulations to this panel. You are leaders in the biggest turnaround that managers have ever attempted. The things that you have done would've meant billions and billions in profit and multimillion dollar bonuses if they had been done for Fortune 500 companies.
On behalf of the American people, I would like to say that President Clinton and I are most grateful to each of you for your service to the American people. You, you're doing a wonderful job. And to all of you--
Let's give them a hand.
And to all of you, I said in my opening remarks that you know best what is broken and how to fix it. This comes in two categories.
First, you are masters of getting things done within the system. Otherwise you wouldn't have worked your way here to this particular conference. Second, there are things that, try as you might, you cannot work around, things where you must have top-down help, just like the example that was cited from the Defense Department a few minutes ago.
I hope that this conference will produce results on both topics. Number one, best practices to get the job done within the system. Share your ideas. The General here was just saying that Dan Beard's forgiveness coupon was a great idea. I bet you that you're going to see that show up in, in his shop. You will hear other ideas that you believe have application within your departments and, and agencies. So please recognize that most of what you learn here will be from each other.
But the second area is, has to do with areas where you have to have help, where you've worked within the system, you've tried the reinvention, you have bumped into some obstacles that need to be removed. I want to ask that each session moderator or facilitator agree right now to take on these issues in their sessions. Get us some bold ideas. If you don't come up with a couple of clinkers, you are not trying hard enough, either. So get us a bunch of bold ideas.
And I want to know about every single one of the obstacles, such as the one that was cited where you need attention from the White House. And I will make sure that you get it. Elaine Kamarck, who has led the National Performance Review, as my chief of staff from day one will be here with the President's Management Council, the PMC, in the last session to get your feedback. She and I will meet this Friday to go over that early feedback, and I want a list of things that we can change in your behalf and obstacles that we can remove to allow you to make more progress.
So good luck in these sessions. Thank you for everything you've done so far and for what is to come. Everyone in this government can stand taller because of you. Thank you very much. Appreciate your coming here. Keep it up, Joe. Good to see you. Thanks, Peggy. You, too. Thanks. Keep it up. Thank you, General, really was impressed. Thank you. Thanks so much, Thurman. Thanks, Dan. Thank you very much. Thank you. See you later.