Aside from the warm weather, I'm here to congratulate a group of people who are demonstrating what reinventing government is all about.
We're always proud when we can honor a group of people who have found a way to save taxpayers' hard-earned dollars. We're very pleased when we can thank people for cutting out waste, or for making a system work better for Americans.
And, for me, it's especially rewarding to honor outstanding successes at our military bases. Before Vice President Gore asked me to head up his reinventing government program, I spent my career at the Pentagon. For my first ten years at DOD, my job was to keep base commanders from being able to run their own bases.
I was part of the system of checks and balances Secretary McNamara built. I was an anonymous offensive lineman. My job was to keep the opponents off my quarterback-- the Secretary of Defense. He had all the money and rules. Just like in the NFL, you could tell the opponents by the color of their uniforms; one week, Navy Blue. The next week, Marine Green. And so on.
I protected him as zealously -- and more effectively than -- the San Diego Chargers protect Stan Humphries. Don Rumsfeld and Harold Brown never got a dislocated shoulder when I was in the front line.
Then, I read Tom Peters' ground-breaking book "In Search of Excellence." I had the good fortune to hook up with people like General Bill Creech, who was doing some tremendously innovative things with management at the Tactical Air Command. And, with Admiral Jim Service and Admiral Jack Fetterman right here on Coronado at AirPac headquarters. And with Admiral Ben Montoya across the bay. And I learned. I learned about empowerment, decentralization, and delegating authority.
I gave up that headquarters-control mentality, and instead focused my efforts on getting out of the way of creative commanders like Captain Steuer, Captain Kelly, and Captain Johnson. I started the Model Installation Program, which delegated decision-making authority to the people who should have it -- the people who have to live with the results of their decisions.
And, what do you know -- it works! People who are on the front lines actually can do a better job of managing their lives and business than someone sitting in an office a few thousand miles away in the Pentagon. That's certainly the case here. In fact, Naval Air Station, North Island was one of our first Model Installations.
And, that tradition of leadership has continued. These base commanders have taken initiative, and gone the extra mile to work together, with the community, and for the benefit of everyone working on and around these facilities. Through the rideshare program, they're helping make sure that the military is a good neighbor. The reality is that all the people working at these facilities here double the population of Coronado Island every day. Given the traffic conditions and the need to improve air quality in the region, that means that the military can be a big part of the problem, or a major part of the solution.
These commanders have chosen to be part of the solution. As a result of the rideshare program, the number of vanpools has grown by almost one thousand percent in the last year. Over 500 people are biking to work. Five million vehicle miles are being eliminated each year, as more than 260 cars have been taken off the road. And, the burden on the region's infrastructure, like the Coronado Bridge, is being eased.
These are great accomplishments, and it's why the Vice President asked me to come out here and present this award. But, there's another reason that makes this award noteworthy. This whole program has been made possible because of partnerships formed with the City of Coronado, the San Diego Association of Governments, and the Coronado Transportation Management Association.
One of the ideas that Vice President Gore pushes hardest is partnership. He believes that the best way to achieve goals in public safety, health, the environment, and other areas is to look at local governments and industry as partners, not as adversaries. It's a matter of focusing on results. If we set the goal and then work jointly to reach it, odds are that we'll get there faster, at less cost, and with a lot less headache.
Not too long ago, the concept of such a partnership was out of the question. And, the thought of federal and local governments and industry actually working together was really far-fetched. Why, it was about as likely to happen as .... well, Al Gore doing the "macarena" on national TV.
But, lo and behold, here we are. The unthinkable is happening. The partnership is working.
The partners in this project are finding a better way. And, they're helping achieve the basic goals that the Vice President set out when we started our reinvention program: giving Americans a government that works better and costs less.
I've been around enough to know that this type of change hasn't happened everywhere. But, it is happening in a lot of places, and it's making a difference. These partnerships are producing real benefits for the American people. A program like this one helps the military work with the community, as part of the community. And, the results are a better quality of life for everyone, whether they work at one of the bases or not.
We're very proud of what you're doing, and you should be, too.
In recognition of what this group accomplished, in a moment, I'll present Vice President Gore's "Hammer Award." He gives them to people who are breaking the old mold and making government work better and cost less. Clearly, you all are doing just that.
And, if you find someone who's not with the program, you can use it to hammer some sense into them. Just kidding. Of course we don't condone the use of violence in reinventing government. But, we'll do just about anything else to get results. And, we're not the only ones saying that we are getting results. In September, Vice President Gore presented President Clinton with his annual report on reinventing government.
It's called "The Best Kept Secrets in Government," because stories about government working better and costing less don't seem to draw too much attention. If you want to be in on the secrets, you can pick it up at your local bookstore. In it, there are stories of people outside of Washington -- front line workers, businesspeople, average citizens, and local leaders -- who see the change, and are talking about it. They see a government that's becoming more efficient and that works better and costs less. They see changes like those that this fine group of people have brought here.
So, let me get down to the business of handing out awards to some very deserving people:
Mayor Mary Herron, Dr. D. Elliott Parks, Chairman of the San Diego Association of Governments, Captain Don Steuer, Commanding Officer of North Island Naval Air Station, Captain Ed Kelly, Commanding Officer of the Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, Captain Tony Heinrich, Vice Commander, Southwest Division, NavFac, and Cindy Radamaker, President of the Board of Directors, Coronado Transportation Management Association..
And, to everyone who is involved in this effort, whether as an organizer, a walker, a biker, or as a passenger enjoying the ride in the back of a van, congratulations, and thank you.