1994 Status Report


Results of Reinvention

The New York office of the Veterans Affairs Department is not alone in reinventing itself. One year ago the Administration promised a government that "works better and costs less." It is starting to deliver.

Government is, indeed, "working better." Thanks to the President, Congress, executive agencies, and federal workers at all levels, over 90 percent of NPR's proposals have moved forward -- implemented by executive order or agency action, proposed in legislation, and so forth. Here's a snapshot of some other government wide accomplishments:

The President issued 22 directives (see Appendix D) and signed Over 100 agencies set customer service standards for the first time. For example, Social Security promises to mail out cards within five working days, and if you need a social security number quickly, it will provide it in a day. The Customs Service pledges to process international air passengers within five minutes.

Agencies are beginning major streamlining initiatives, cutting headquarters staff, reducing management layers, and moving workers to the front line. They include the Departments of Labor, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; Customs; the Bureau of Reclamation; the Social Security Administration; the Small Business Administration; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Agencies are forming labor-management partnerships throughout the federal government. Departments and agencies have signed 32 partnership agreements with their unions.

Agencies are slashing red tape. The Office of Personnel Management scrapped the 10,000-page Federal Personnel Manual and the SF-171 job application form. Labor, Veterans Affairs, and other departments eliminated mounds of paperwork associated with internal regulations, budget justifications, and other requirements.

Agencies are buying fewer "designer" goods and more off-the-shelf products. The Defense Department is aggressively eliminating military specifications in favor of commercial purchases, and the General Services Administration's commodity centers are working to give commercial descriptions to everything they buy and to stock commercial items.

Agencies created 135 "reinvention labs" through which employees try new ways to conduct the people's business; already, some have improved customer service or cut costs.

The government is shifting billions of dollars in benefits to electronic payment. Some benefits are now being paid electronically in seven states; 22 more states are in the planning stages.

The federal government is changing the way it interacts with state and local governments. The Education Department is implementing the Education Flexibility Partnership Demonstration, which will give some states the authority to waive any statutory or regulatory requirement without seeking the department's approval. The Department of Health and Human Services has also consolidated four programs into one to make it easier for states to provide education, vocational rehabilitation, health, employment and training, child welfare, and other social services to families. The Department of Health and Human Services has also promised to review state requests for Medicaid and AFDC waivers in less than 120 days.

Many skeptics of reinventing government thought that the initiative would fail because Congress would interfere. While Congress and the executive branch have had their disagreements, Congress has made significant contributions this year as well. The Clinton Administration chose to implement most of the NPR recommendations through the 1995 budget process, through which they could contribute to the twin goals of improving management and operating within the tight spending caps in the 1993 budget act. The results have been significant:


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