| Vice President Al Gore at the|
Reinvention Revolution III Conference 4/21/98 (Transcription)
Jurisdiction: Federal Government
Management Issues: Citizen Participation/Citizen Trust, Deregulation, NPR, Outcomes, Reinventing Democracy
NATIONAL PARTNERSHIP FOR REINVENTING GOVERNMENTVice President Al Gore at the
Reinvention Revolution III Conference
April 21, 1998
MR. STONE: A year ago, many of you were at this same conference, and you saw a bunch of government reinventors at the Natcher Center, sitting with the Vice President, and telling him tales of reinventions. And a woman named Debby Ruiz from the Marine Corps recruit depot in San Diego, California told the VP a wonderful story about how a front line worker at the recruit depot had come up with an idea to save thousands of dollars.
What was happening is the Marines were giving triple extra large uniforms to overweight young men who were coming into the Marines. They gave them five sets. And in a couple of weeks, they had shed their weight, and were down to a large, and what to do with the uniforms?
Well, what would you do? Throw them away.
What the man I'm introducing proposed was something radical: wash them and reissue them to the next group of overweight Marines.
Well, like so many proposed common sensical ideas in government, it was turned down, and our guest was told, "Ship 'em to the junk yard." And instead, he put them into boxes, and hid them, and bided his time. And eventually, he got his way.
This story came out. Somebody asked, "Well, why didn't you bring him here?" And the Vice President said, "That's a great idea. We'll bring him here next year and show him a big time in Washington."
So as part of his "big time in Washington," he gets to come up on the stage and address you. It is my honor to introduce to you Phil Archuleta, material handler, Marine Corps recruit depot, San Diego.
MR. ARCHULETA: Thank you, Mr. Stone, for that kind introduction. I am delighted to be here among my fellow front line workers. This is my first trip to Washington, and the first time I've been introduced to a Vice President.
MR. ARCHELETA: Throughout most of my government career, I had a lot of good ideas, but I learned early on that, just keep your mouth shut.
MR. ARCHELETA: After building submarines at Mare Island Naval shipyard near San Francisco for twenty-three years, I moved to San Diego and went to work for the Marine Corps recruit depot. There, I discovered, as Mr. Stone told you, they were throwing away the extra large cammies. I suggested we recycle them, and I was told, "No. It's against regulations. We can't do that. Forget about it."
Well, I didn't forget, and I just kept boxing them up, like he said, and when I got a new supervisor, I approached him again, and he says, "Hey." He said, "We just got a letter from the Reinventing Government Lab, and we can do this."
So we did. We recycled the cammies, and in two years, we saved over half-a-million dollars.
MR. ARCHELETA: When a regular front line worker stands here introducing the Vice President of the United States, it's -- you know things are changing in Washington, or in government. It is a great honor to introduce Vice President Gore to you. He's a man you can trust, a man who keeps his word, a man who's willing to listen. And I thank him for keeping his word, and daring to create a government where people like me can be heard.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice President of the United States, Al Gore.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. Thank you very much for your enthusiastic welcome. I'm just delighted to be able to join you. I'm so proud of what you're doing. I congratulate all of you. You are bringing about a revolution, and it's very much in the American tradition, and I'm just filled with pride to be a part of your team.
And I especially want to thank Phil Archeleta for his great introduction. Phil, some of your -- where did you get to? Oh, I'm sorry. Okay. I don't have my glasses on.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Some of your front line colleagues at last year's conference were taking up for you. Somebody a few rungs higher up was taking credit for your idea -- which is the way it works, you know.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And they were -- you know, they were actually giving you the credit, but they were the ones that were here. One of these guys out here, or one of these women out here, said, "Hey. What about the guy who actually came up with the idea?"
So that's the reason you're here this year. Bob made that point. And I want to thank Bob Stone.
Morley Winograd, who's heading up our Reinventing Government, the entire team, including Bob, are doing a great job, and I'm proud to be a part of this team.
We have some agency heads here who are real reinventors, and we'll be hearing from them a little bit later, but allow me to acknowledge them briefly. Administrator Dan Golden at NASA, Acting Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Michael Friedman. The Chief of the Forest Service, Mike Dombeck -- who, incidentally, is doing a fantastic job against some pressures that have been there in that agency forever, and we appreciate him holding firm, these other guys, too.
Director Pat Shea of the Bureau of Land Management. Janice LaChance, Director of OPM. There may be some others here that I just don't know to recognize, but welcome, and thank you, one and all.
Dr. Stephen Trachtenberg, President of George Washington University is here, and thank you for your presence. And there are a lot of other distinguished guests, but the most distinguished guests of all are the front line employees who are reinventing the way we do business in the United States government. In the process, they are redeeming the promise of self-government, and helping to restore the confidence of the American people that our American experiment is not only alive and kicking, but is getting better and better all the time.
And it's high time we started turning that around and moving it in the right direction again, and I give you all the credit for helping to bring that about.
I'm here to celebrate the work being done by men and women of courage, imagination and dedication throughout our government. And to make an important announcement about what we are doing to give working men and women like you, in the federal government, the opportunity to innovate and bring the kind of creativity to the table that Phil brought to the disposition of these recruit uniforms, to bring your creativity to the service of the American people.
Because the reinvention you're accomplishing together really is, as the name of this conference suggests, nothing less than a revolution. We throw that word around kind of loosely, sometimes, and of course, that's something that's understandable in our country, because of the fact that 225 years ago, we had a revolution that led to our founding, which guaranteed a government that would secure the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Now, because we established self-government by revolting against a centralized bureaucracy that was a monarchy, we've always had in our political culture, and in our American character, the readiness to strike out at any kind of concentration of power that looks like it's arrogant or unhealthy in any way, shape or form. And that's good, and it's partly for that reason that complaining about the government is as American as apple pie. You would think it was written into the Bill of Rights, the right to complain about the government.
By the time President Clinton and I took office in January of 1993, confidence in our self-government had plunged to a thirty-year low. There were an awful lot of reasons for that. One time, not long ago, I sat down, wrote out a whole speech just on that topic. How did that happen?
I think there are a lot of things that -- and I'm not going to recap all of it, but I do think there are a lot of things that are were kind of body blows to our national self-confidence in our self-government. Personally, I think that the post-War euphoria after World War II, when were clearly the exemplar of democracy and prosperity, and standing astride the world.
I think that began to give way around the time of the assassinations, that tragic period early in the 1960s, that continued through the '60s. Then I think the Vietnam War took a terrible toll, and I think that Watergate, and the terrible crisis that our country went through, and then the continuation of the Vietnam War, and the 21 percent interest rates, and you could list a long list of things. And without a period of time during which we could recharge our batteries, and restore that good feeling about the course of our self-government.
And throughout a lot of this period, the size of our government kept on growing like Topsy, without improving the quality of government. A lot of faulty management theories were used and propagated, and actually, during the twelve years before President Clinton came there -- we pick on that period. I don't mean this as a partisan comment. It was a trend that really began before that.
But during that time before we got here, confidence in government had plunged to a thirty-year low, and during that twelve-year period, we added 200,000 nondefense employees to the federal government. And the quality of service, and the missions undertaken, didn't really justify that kind of increase.
More importantly, the excellent federal employees who know how to make things work well, if they're given the leeway, and empowered with the resources, and trust and flexibility were not listened to. They weren't given a chance to do the right thing. Instead, they were encumbered with a system that was really out of control.
And so five years ago, President Clinton asked me to lead our efforts to reinvent our federal government so that it would work better and cost less for the American people. He wanted more than just cosmetic changes. He said then he wanted to make the entire federal government both less expensive and more efficient. He wanted to change the culture of our national bureaucracy away from complacency and entitlement toward initiative and empowerment.
Well, five years later, I'm proud to report to you that we've made a great deal of progress, and we're headed in the right direction for a change. Today, our self-government is leaner, more effective, and more customer focused. Thanks to Reinventing Government, or REGO, as we call it -- as some of you know, that's GORE spelled sideways -- we have worked very hard on this.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thanks to our Reinventing Government program, we've reduced the size of the federal government by 350,000 employees, to give us the smallest federal government since the early 1960s, and as a percentage of the work force since before the New Deal. We eliminated over 200 outdated federal government programs. We slashed more than 16,000 pages of red tape, and saved the American people over $137 billion.
But even more than reducing the size of government and making it more efficient, Reinventing Government has been about a different vision of the role which our self-government should play in the life of our country. We've tried to give the American people the same universe of choices that they have in the rest of their lives.
Just think about it. Over the past decade, American business has really changed the way it does business. Not all businesses, but, by and large, it's easy to see a revolution in the work place where the private sector is concerned, because of new management approaches, new technologies, new efficiencies, new reinventions.
And American business now emphasizes choice and quality and efficiency. At least, the ones that have reinvented themselves, and, as consumers and customers, most of us have learned how to pick out the ones that really get it, and are really on their toes, and are doing an excellent job.
And they have replaced a belief in centralized control with a fundamental faith in the workers on the front lines, and they're empowering them. All around American, companies large and small have stopped doing business as usual.
Well, to boil it down to its essence, what REGO is all about is our decision to stop doing government as usual. And our reliance on you, Federal employees and managers, to bring about those changes.
Once the federal government was a bureaucracy of hierarchies and monopolies, rules and regulations, where the focus was on filling out paperwork and making sure forms were done in triplicate. Today, the focus is on working efficiently, and on offering Americans more choices.
We wanted a government that sees citizens as customers to be respected and served, the difference being in the government, the customers are also the bosses. A government that emphasizes results over red tape. A government that replaces bureaucratic nonsense with old-fashioned common sense.
By showing that government can work well, and work for the good of the people, we're restoring America's faith in the idea of self-government. And that's something we absolutely must do, if we're going to have a government that works for all of us, because if we still believe that, in the United States, we, the people, rule, then our confidence in democratic government should be very important to us.
I mentioned that period during which our national confidence in self-government began to decline. There's actually a series of public opinion polls that measure that process. In 1964, 76 percent of the American people had trust that government would do the right thing most of the time. They asked the question, "Do you trust the federal government to do the right thing most of the time?" Seventy-six percent said yes.
Thirty years later, that number had declined dramatically, to less than 20 percent. And the decline was in both political parties and every demographic category. Because Americans saw a government that didn't work for them, and even worse, they saw a government that they felt just didn't work at all.
And when I started doing town hall meetings with federal employees in every single Cabinet department and agency, I found out what I should have known, what many of you knew, but which came as a surprise to a lot of people in the public. I found that federal employees were really more upset about it than citizens of the country generally, because federal employees had to live with it every single day. And also, they had to endure the kind of all out assault on the image of public service that we have had to -- that our country endured for awhile.
In fact, according to a new study from the PEW Research Center that some of you have seen, the main factor in Americans' distrust of government was the rating of government performance. Well, I believe that our work in Reinventing Government has slowly and steadily begun to reverse the downward trend of Americans' trust in their government, and the facts bear it out.
According to one survey conducted last fall, that stream of numbers reflecting the overall trust in government has begun to go back up again. According to one study, it was up eighteen points in just the last three years. But having said that, we've still got a long way to go, and I think everybody here understands that.
But the distance between where we are and where we should be is shrinking now, instead of expanding. We're moving in the right direction, instead of moving in the wrong direction. And that should give us good courage. That should cause us to feel a lot of confidence that we can go the rest of the way.
Well, that's one of the reasons why I directed the thirty-two agencies with the greatest impact on the lives of average Americans to move beyond reinventing programs to begin reinventing themselves, and really focusing on the kind of service that they deliver.
And we need to do more to free up front line workers from the burdensome rules and regulations that tie their hands now, and stop the flow of their ideas. And that's why today I'm pleased to announce that President Clinton has just signed a memorandum to the heads of our executive departments and agencies to take a very important further action to increase the use of waivers to expedite innovation and improve customer service.
In this memorandum, the President cites two examples of the benefits that this kind of new freedom can bring. First, the Coast Guard Marine Safety programs have increased managerial flexibility for field commanders to waive unnecessary requirements that had previously accounted for more than a half-a-million work hours annually. Also, the Department of Agriculture's animal plant health inspection services tort claims adjudication team used a waiver to reduce the processing time for tort claims of less than $2,500.00 from fifty-one days down to eight days. And these examples illustrate what can happen, and we want to happen more.
We're asking that internal agency waivers be approved or denied within thirty days, and can only be denied by the head of an agency. We believe this will really speed up the waiver process.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: With this action to streamline waivers, we will open up the floodgates of reinvention all over the federal government. We cannot rest in our drive to give the American people a government that works better and costs less, and provides Americans with better service.
Now, I'm going to engage in a conversation here with some people who are customers and front line employees and agency heads, and then we're going to deal with some of the comments and questions that you all have had during the course of this discussion. But I would just like to close my formal opening remarks here by again expressing great, deep thanks to all of you on behalf of President Clinton and myself and the American people, for being pioneers, for being leaders, for being agents of change, for being reinventers, and in the broadest sense, for helping to restore and redeem the promise of our American self-government. Let's forge ahead in changing the way government works for all of us.
Thank you very much, and thank you for what you are doing.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Now, some folks are going to come up here and join me. Wendell and Ed, from FDA, and Meredith and Linda from NASA. Is that right? Come on up and join us here.
[General conversation; greetings]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Please, have a seat. You all aren't nervous, are you?
MR. GARDNER : No.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right. Well, now, I gave your first names. Linda Robeck, right here, with URA, an engineer on the Mars Sojourner at JPL in California. Wasn't that a great mission? That was fantastic. Congratulations on that. I loved it.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I was on the Website when those first pictures came out on the 4the of July. It was so exciting.
Dr. Meredith Olson is a science teacher at Seattle Country Day Middle School, correct?
DR. OLSON: Right.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right. And incidentally, I mentioned already, we have Dan Goldin with NASA here, and we're going to ask Dan to respond to some of this in just a moment.
And now, Wendell Gardner, with the KOBE?
MR. GARDNER: KOBE.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: KOBE Laboratories, the KOBE Company, which is in Denver, a company that makes kidney dialysis machines and heart/lung machines. And Edward Esparza, who is head of the Southwest Region for the FDA, and I mentioned Mike Friedman, Dr. Friedman, the Acting Commissioner of the FDA, is here in the front row.
O.K. Now, Wendell, let's start with you. How did you get involved in working with the FDA as a partner? We know the FDA regulates you, regulates the devices and machines that you make. How did you get involved with them as a partner?
MR. GARDNER: Well, Mr. Vice President, I think we got involved as a partner because of something you did a number of years ago. I think you had asked people within Washington to get out into the field, and to go find out what their customers were interested in and they wanted to do.
And as a result of that, the FDA started having grass roots meeting. They had a grass roots meeting in Denver, Colorado in August of 1995, for the medical device industry. About eighty people, about half of those people, are from industry, about half of them from the FDA, including from Washington. Outstanding meeting. Very open.
But in the process of that meeting, I started asking, "What are you going to do with this information that you're getting here?" And I got a lot of, "I don't knows." But the one answer that I got was, "We have been ordered to have these meetings and to package it and send it to the desk of the Deputy Commissioner."
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yes.
MR. GARDNER: I frankly cannot justify spending time and wasting resources, and that was my fear. So at the end of the meeting, I got up and said, "I don't know if the FDA knows what they're going to do with this information, and they had previous meetings and couldn't articulate anything. Let's take it directly to Dr. Kessler, then Commissioner of the FDA."
A lot of people, I think, crawled under the table, but there were a few people that volunteered to help, including this guy right here, and he got the meeting with Dr. Kessler. In August of 1995, we had a meeting with Dr. Kessler. Dr. Friedman was there. Ron Chesmar, our Associate Commissioner, was there. It was FDA top management.
It was a good reception. We had boiled the fifteen items down to about seven, and we started looking for an area where we had some common ground. We identified inspections as an area where we could work together, and become more effective, which is really all about better utilization of resources, partnership, and communications.
In December we had a meeting, and we had a program defined, concerning inspections. And it was pre-announcement of inspections, annotations of actions that companies take for granted, and inspections, or to take. In February of 1996, the FDA started to train their field force on this.
The program was announced in the Federal Register, it became effective April 1996. Throughout the remainder of '96, it was a pilot program nationwide. Not just for Denver or Colorado or the Southwest Region, but, as Dr. Kessler had requested, nationwide.
At the end of the year, we also had an evaluation program. Both from the FDA standpoint, including the investigators and industry, unanimous approval that this is an outstanding program, better, working together, partnering, and saving resources on both sides, and in February of 1997, this became permanent FDA policy for medical devices.
A very rapid program, an outstanding program, I think, and -- for example, how we can partner. And I would make one last point, and that is, in the process, we never asked the FDA to ever give up any of their regulatory authority that they had, if they needed to use it. But you could bring about this change without giving up any regulatory authority.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, that's a great success story.
MR. GARDNER: Thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Now, just to put it in context, can you just briefly tell us, by contrast, what it was like in the old days?
MR. GARDNER: Well, it was a pretty difficult period. It was basically a cop mentality, I would say. And --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Gotcha.
MR. GARDNER: Gotcha. Write the tickets, put them out of business, send them to jail, but the real thing, I think, that's key --
MR. GARDNER: -- was the fact that it was a loser for America and the American people. The balance of payments -- this industry has a very favorable balance of payments that's going down. The employment level was going down. Research was going offshore.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Uh-huh.
MR. GARDNER: And last, but not least, American citizens were not having access to the latest health care technology that was being created in this country. This program, and other programs within the agency have started to turn that around.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, now, Ed, as far as from your perspective as a regional director for FDA, how did you get things to change from the inside, and get your people to take a new approach?
MR. ESPARZA: Mr. Vice President, the time was right. We recognized the factors that Mr. Gardner just talked about were impacting getting new devices onto the market in a timely manner, just was not good. We recognized that we needed to change our culture. We needed to change that we did business. And REGO II really provided us with the opportunity.
So when you said, "Get out there and meet with the regulating industry," we did just that.
We also had, of course, buy in from senior management in FDA. In particular, the Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs, Ron Chesmore, who was extremely active in taking a leadership role in the design of the pilot. We worked extremely well with the task force that we formed with the industry.
We designed the initiative initially as a pilot, but we were careful to design it with -- for success. We knew we didn't want this effort to fail, and we did just that.
And we also included a measurement instrument, a survey instrument, so that we could monitor just how the initiative was going, as we implemented it. And as Mr. Gardner mentioned, it was just superbly successful.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Do you kind of miss the old days?
MR. ESPARZA: Not at all.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I was hoping you'd say that.
MR. ESPARZA: We're all winners on this one.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah. That's right.
Now, tell me about -- without naming names -- tell me about any resistance that you encountered in shifting from the old ways to the new ways.
MR. ESPARZA: We really didn't. We had already been --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Ed, it's me. It's me.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: You can tell me.
MR. ESPARZA: As I say, senior management, we bought into it, in the administration. We kept at it, and -- but we had been at it for a couple of years at that point, trying to reinvent ourselves.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah.
MR. ESPARZA: But the grassroots idea was what really got us over that hump.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah. We tried a lot of other approaches, and made some progress, before we issue the directive to have these meetings with partners, and we really appreciate the kind of approach that the partners took, that customers took, if you will, and that management took, and that the employees took.
What I have often found is that if you have agency leadership that understands it and supports it, and then you have front line employees who are sick to death of the old ways of doing things, and finally are given some hope that some common sense can be used in this, and they start pushing from one end, and the leadership starts pushing from the other, eventually, it's going to meet up, and the change will take place.
Dr. Friedman. I don't know if we have microphones -- oh, you've got one. All right. Okay. From what Ed and Wendell have just said to us, it looks like this partnership approach has really worked well in the medical device area. From your overview perspective, what are the benefits of accelerating inspections and having this new approach?
DR. FRIEDMAN: I think they're very considerable, Mr. Vice President. If we start from the premise that industry and FDA have a shared common goal, and that's to have better products, and that we all benefit from having products available to improve the lives of us all. And that's our primary responsibility, shifting the paradigm from what's been described as a sort of burdensome, fault finding one, which is inherently a sterile activity, to one which is establishing incentives for quality production, has very substantial health benefits for all of our citizens, has very substantial regulatory benefits, because it saves time, money, allows more productive activities, both for the agency, but very importantly, for the industries as well. We have very important research and innovation that they need to perform.
It's always dangerous to say that something is a total success. This is as close to a total success, I think, as any of us could have envisioned.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, that is encouraging, and I begin to see some advertisements now by regulated companies that include in the ads to perspective stockholders or customers, saying, "Remember, folks. The FDA has changed, and we now we've gotten rid of a lot of those long waiting periods and everything."
That's a sign that the marketplace is taking recognition of it, and that the functions of the agency are being performed better than ever, but without the delays.
How have you taken the reinvention process agencywide?
DR. FRIEDMAN : Well, as has been pointed out, what started as a pilot project for devices has now been expanded to standard operating procedure for devices, and we're very satisfied with that. We're so excited about it, that we're moving it to other areas within the agency as well. First, on a pilot basis, with careful analysis and evaluation, but where it is sensible, where it's reasonable, where it's going to give us the pragmatic outcome that we want, which is better products.
We think that this can be expanded, and we're moving into the area of drug pharmaceuticals for both animals and for humans, as our next pilot area.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And you're absolutely confident that this is being done without in any way compromising the protection of safety for the American people that is your mission?
DR. FRIEDMAN : That is the only way in which we would conceive doing this.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Right.
DR. FRIEDMAN. : We're absolutely convinced of that.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Now, what would you say to those in the country, in the business sector, particularly, who really haven't recognized this process, don't think it's real. You've been through it, and you're convinced that this is a real change, correct?
MR. GARDNER : This is a real change, and I think the important thing is, when we went in to see Dr. Kessler, and Dr. Friedman, and Ron Chesmore, jointly, we had put our heads together the night before that this task force of the FDA, and industry, and we went in and told them we wanted this to be the beginning of a process and not a project.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Right.
MR. : And I think that is really key, and we have more things going here on that. I would say to those people that don't believe, I'd say do what I do, you know. If you're going to speak up, you're liable to get a job, you know, and --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, very good. Thank you very much, Dr. Friedman, and thanks to all the folks who are part of your team, Ed, at FDA, for allowing us to showcase your successes and use you as an example of a reinvention process. We're really very grateful to you.
Let me move now to Linda Robeck, and tell me exactly what was your role in the Mars project?
MS. ROBECK: Well, Mr. Vice President, I was the engineer in charge of actually assembling the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft. So while one team of people built the Sojourner rover, and another team built those huge air bags that we used to bounce us on the surface, me and my team, we actually put all those things together and made sure that they fit.
Now, you may have heard Mars Pathfinder was our first really big better, faster, cheaper mission, so we were trying a lot of new things. And some of the new things that we were trying was to try and get hardware into physical reality sooner. So what we would try to do was actually start building things as soon as we possibly could, before we did all the analysis.
And that meant that every once in awhile, those of us who are bolting things together would find something that didn't quite fit. So I brought one along for you as a memento.
MS. ROBECK: There was one piece of hardware called a back shell interface place that had six very small brackets, about like this, that we used to hold connectors. And it turns out that a number of those little brackets, we didn't go into great detail to design, because we wanted to cut some corners and save time, and some of them didn't quite fit. So this one I retrieved out of the trash bin. It was going to go and become a soda can, or something.
MS. ROBECK: And I decided to hang onto it as a way of remembering that as we're trying new things, it's not unusual to have some small setbacks along the way, but not to be discouraged by that, but just keep forging ahead, because we still did land on Mars very successfully. So I wanted to give that to you.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: This is actual hardware that did not go to Mars.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: It's so exciting. It's so exciting.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And actually, the plaque says: "Mars Pathfinder, hardware that didn't quite make it to Mars."
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Cable connector bracket from the back shield interface plate. This is just right down my alley --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I just love this. Thank you so much. And a picture of the Mars service there. Well. That is great.
Incidentally, before I say anything else, I just -- I just want to say, as the father of three daughters, as well as a son, that I was thrilled by the sight of all of these fantastic, dynamic women engineers and scientists on television with the Mars program. Thank you for being a role model.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And you know, I was joking around about this, but I'm really quite serious, because one of the changes in our governmentwide culture that helps move things along is the recognition that if you're not making some mistakes, you're not trying hard enough. If you're not pushing the envelope, and in the process, trying out some new things that may not be scientifically precise for everything that can be anticipated, but overall, they're better and faster and cheaper, then that's okay. Because the next time around, the rough edges will be sanded down, or in this case -- what did you use to take it off? A screwdriver?
MS. ROBECK: Screwdriver.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Screwdriver. Just take it off. And anyway, I think that's --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's a good lesson.
Now, I have heard some of your colleagues say that when Dan gave the directive as part of the whole reinventing thrust at NASA -- faster, better, cheaper -- and said that the whole budget for going to Mars and getting this wonderful information was going to be just incredibly low compared to what people had anticipated, I've heard from some of your colleagues that rather than seeing that as a hindrance, you saw it as a very -- an almost helpful challenge. Have I got that right?
MS. ROBECK: It gave us a lot of incentive to try a lot of new things. It really empowered us to go out there and attempt something new. One example, the Rover on Mars needed to speak to earth, and it could have taken us a million dollars to develop a communications device that would allow the Rover to talk to earth.
And we said, "Well, gosh. We've got to cut the budget. How about that modem that everybody has in their computer? You can get it from $300.00 from Motorola. Let's go to talk to Motorola and see if they'll partner with us to try and adapt that $300.00 modem for use in space."
Now, that was a really risky kind of activity, so Motorola wasn't real sure they wanted to have their name attached to it, just in case it didn't work?
MS. ROBECK: So you know, they said that the warranty wasn't valid after it launched from earth.
MS. ROBECK: But it did work.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: But they did --
MS. ROBECK: They did help us out, and --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Can you just imagine how much it would have cost if there had been specs written up, and a whole big deal made out of it, and specially designed hardware for this? It might have been in the millions, just for that part of it.
MS. ROBECK: Right. This way we cut down on schedules and we cut down the costs. To put it in perspective, the entire mission cost $230 million. That sounds like a lot of money, until you compare it to a major Hollywood movie, which costs about the same amount of money.
MS. ROBECK: So this actually costs less than the movie "Titanic," and has a much happier ending.
[Laughter and applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Very good. Still a risk of hypothermia, but --
MS. ROBECK: It's cold on Mars.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah. Dr. Meredith Olson, as I mentioned, is a science teacher at Seattle Country Day Middle School. We all know about the pictures, and the scientific data. How did you use the Sojourner and the Rover in your learning experience for your children in school?
DR. OLSON: Well, education is -- I love your themes. Education is at a stage -- science education -- is at a stage where it needs to reinvent itself. Our international tests point out we need to specifically reinvent mechanics and spatial things.
So my students were given the task of reinventing the Sojourner rover. And I brought one along --
DR. OLSON: So every single student in the middle school made two or three versions, and so we ended up with more than 300 of these. I just brought a small one along. Whoops. on the handle here. I didn't want to mark it. With telephone wire, and we have a wire that's come loose here, but I just thought we'd show you that actually.
Now, this was made by a child, and it's been -- oh, thank you.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: [Inaudible].
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: This will take that wire off for you, if you don't need it.
DR. OLSON: Right.
DR. OLSON: So let's see if we can make it work a little bit here.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Hey.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Looks great.
DR. OLSON: And the next year we had an engineering contest. Each of these takes about six weeks, five days a week, of the children working in their science class, and sometimes in their math class. And our task was landing and deployment.
And so we thought, fine. They all made Tetrahedrons, they all made little rovers, but how do you deploy tracks?
So every single child in the middle school was given a 25-foot carpenter's tape measure, and had to take it apart, see what it looked like inside, and everyone had to -- they don't always work just perfectly -- but learn how to deploy it -- I don't think I'll deploy it 25 feet, but it just goes out, just --
DR. OLSON: -- just like Pathfinder. And they had track trouble, too, when they were up there. So I think getting stuck a little bit is in keeping.
Isn't that wonderful? This is a child's creation here also.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's great. Thank you. Thank you very much.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Great. Now, what other kinds of lessons can you teach using space exploration?
DR. OLSON: There are a lot of lessons existing on, "I Want to Be a Space Man," social studies and drama. But we're particularly impressed with NASA's support of science curriculums. We've been able to produce things on valleys, on floods, and with the new theme of water, I think it's very much easier for children to understand temperature than it is pressure. Why does water boil at a different temperature on a mountain top? Why do we find no liquid water on Mars?
And so the space venture allows us a fresh perspective on good science education.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, that's great, and I know it's exciting to be in your science class. And all of us, in a way, learned something when this mission took place.
Dan Goldin, remind me how many hits on the NASA Web site were there in the week after the Rover first landed?
MR. GOLDIN: I think we had a couple of hundred million.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Couple of hundred million.
MR. GOLDIN: We had three-quarters of a billion hits total.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Three-quarters of a billion hits on the Web site, looking at the pictures and all the rest. O.K. Well, let me ask you another question.
MR. GOLDIN: Sure.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: If I'm not mistaken, this mission was accomplished in one-fifth of the time that it took for the previous mission, which of course, failed, or --
MR. GOLDIN: No, the previous mission was the Viking mission, which went in '76.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Oh, that's the one we're comparing it to.
MR. GOLDIN: Yes.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: But we lost one -- we lost --
MR. GOLDIN: Oh. We lost the Mars Observer, which was a billion dollars.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Right.
MR. GOLDIN: It was four times the price, and it was about three times the duration to do it.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Okay. And compared to Viking, if this one was one-fifth of the time, and one-tenth of the cost, how did the reinvention process, and the principles of reinvention, lead to this result?
MR. GOLDIN: Rule number one, set tough but achievable goals, simple but thorough requirements. Example. You have $230 million, three years to do the job, it's fully funded. Don't worry about funding stopping and starting.
Build a spacecraft, land it on Mars. Build a Rover, put it on the spacecraft, deploy it from the spacecraft, operate it on Mars, do good science.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's clear.
MR. GOLDIN: Second rule. Trust the people. They have the infinite wisdom.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Before you go further, just to test out that second rule. Linda, did you have to fill out any forms to get permission to remove this thing from the -- O.K. Go ahead.
MR. GOLDIN: In the past, we use to have incredible oversight. We would have literally a large percentage of the work force being made of people who oversaw the program. We had a half-engineer and a half-time scientist --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Wait a minute.
MR. GOLDIN: Half-time engineer. Half-time engineer --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: O.K.
MR. GOLDIN: -- half-time scientist.
MR. GOLDIN: And they oversaw the process 'til the requirements were done, and then JPO was responsible. Tony Spear was totally responsible and accountable for the program. He decided what the oversight would be, and he brought in the overseers.
He used people, not paper. Instead of having piles of test procedures, he had what he called the Gremlins. He hired young people, and it was there job to prove what could go wrong, and the people who worked on the job had to prove they could handle all the problems that would come at them.
So when we landed on Mars, we'd anticipated almost every problem that hit us without piles of paper.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah. It was very impressive, when various glitches would come up, and the news people would comment on it, and then the engineers and scientists would come out and say, "Oh, yeah. We anticipated this, and we had all these different contingency plans," and then it would work.
It was great. And everybody was left with the feeling that the NASA of the Apollo program was back. And that the spirit of America that we've always wanted to invest in NASA was really shining forth. It was just great.
How have you taken this approach that was so successful with the Rover, Sojourner and Pathfinder, into the larger task of reinventing NASA, the whole agency?
MR. GOLDIN: Well, the first thing we did is we have the people who worked on Pathfinder talking to all the people across the agency. The best way for technology transfer is with people, not with paper. So we had people going throughout the agency and to our contractors talking about their lessons learned. That's the most important part.
And the results that we're getting are phenomenal. In the time that we started reinventing government at NASA, we've cut our budget 30 percent. Our productivity has gone up 40 percent. In the five years, we've turned back $40 billion in money we didn't need, yet we have three times the number of spacecraft programs today than we had five years ago.
And the average cost of a spacecraft went down from roughly $600 million a spacecraft to 200 million. The cycle time to develop it, from eight years to four years. And now, we went from two launches a year to ten launches a year, and the American people loves it.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Good job.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Before we conclude this part of it, and then I'm going to invite a couple more people to come up here after you, let me just, before we close, ask if either of the federal employees here would like to add anything about what reinvention has meant to you, personally, in terms of your experience of the work you do, your attitude towards the job?
Who wants to go first?
MS. ROBECK: Well, Dan Goldin mentioned Tony Spear, and how he tried to embody how we were to build the Mars Pathfinder spacecraft. And part of my responsibility, it was made clear to me, the major responsibility, was the safety of the people working on the job, because we do have very hazardous situations at times working with rockets. And, of course, the second responsibility was the safety of the hardware, making sure that it was well taken care of.
And so I was empowered completely to take that bracket off with a screwdriver when I needed to, because it wasn't going to work.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Good. Ed.
MR. ESPARZA: Yes. Well, I have thirty-two years of governmental service at this point, so I'm coming to the close of my federal career, and I've been asking myself, "Well, what have I accomplished?" You know, in my career service. It was this initiative and the fact that it was a major significant change in the way we conduct business. I feel that collectively we have now left a legacy to this agency.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Makes you feel good?
MR. ESPARZA: It sure does.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's great. You know, after thirty-two years of faithful service, to be able to signal this reinvention experience out as the highlight, and feel in your heart that this is something that's going to be a lasting contribution, is really a great feeling to have.
And I hear similar responses from federal employees on the front lines who get involved in this new approach, and they really feel good about the work. It is a fulfilling kind of -- I know it's been that way for me and our team in the REGO shop, because it really is the way it ought to be done.
Do either of you want to add anything before we close this panel? Meredith?
DR. OLSON: I just think the whole reinvention of human understanding and interaction is the key. I applaud you.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you.
MR. GARDNER : Mr. Vice President, one of the things that I've learned is this in the amount of talent that exists in the federal government. It is tremendous. This program drew out a lot of that talent, and I really learned a lot. And I would say if there's anybody in this audience that hasn't embraced change, and got involved in change, think about it, get involved, because it is a rewarding experience, and I think you'll feel really good about it, and I feel good about what we've done with this program.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Great. Thank you, all four.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you very much.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right. Very good. Now, I want to as, Mr. Bowles and Ms. Campbell to come up to the stage. We're going to have a Q and A session on this cyber wall. Ms. Campbell, you're from the Department of the Interior.
MS. CAMPBELL: Correct.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Mr. Bowles, you're from Oklahoma City. Right?
MR. BOWLES: Yes.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: You direct the --
MR. BOWLES: Logistics Center.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Logistics Center at the FAA. All right. Very good.
Now, your first names, again, are --
MR. BOWLES: I'm Norm.
MS. CAMPBELL: I'm Norma.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Normal people.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Normal federal employees.
MS. CAMPBELL: However, I consider myself outstanding.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I understand. I understand. O.K.
MR. BOWLES: I used to be normal until I learned how to reinvent.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Ah. All right. Is that on a script? That's -- that's a good line.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's a good line.
MR. BOWLES: Speaking of reinvention --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Now, wait a minute.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: This is the session where you all ask me questions? Is that right?
MR. BOWLES: Yes.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right.
MR. BOWLES: But we are in a reinvention kitchen, and one of the things that we are lacking in this kitchen, if you look in, there's no cookbook. So we have a cookbook for you, Mr. Vice President. This is called "A Taste of Reinvention; Sizzling Change Recipes from the Heartland."
MR. BOWLES: This is a how to book on reinventing.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's fantastic.
MR. BOWLES: It's a good accompaniment for the Blair House papers.
MR. BOWLES: Which sets the goal, and this is the --
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Oh. It actually has some real recipes.
MR. BOWLES: Yes, it does.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: The Whole Enchilada.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Okay. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate that. All right.
MS. CAMPBELL: O.K. Mr. Vice President, this year, with the assistance of Price Waterhouse, we established an electronic town hall wall we called Cybertalk. We used it to capture the thinking, experiences, and concerns of the conference attendees.
So far, over 200 reinventors have shared their thoughts with one another, and have raised a number of interesting questions they would like for you to answer. From that data base, we've selected a number of those here. So what I'd like to do is begin asking those questions.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right.
MS. CAMPBELL: Okay. The question we're going to start with, what happens to the reinvention revolution if you're not the next President of the United States.
MS. CAMPBELL: What mechanisms are in place to insure that this very worthwhile program doesn't die with a change in the administration?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, look. It's way too early to think about the -- I mean, it's 631 days before the --
[Laughter and applause]
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: It's so far off, we can't even think about that.
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: But who's counting?
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: But seriously. We're trying to institutionalize the reinvention process with the Government Performance Results Act, which President Clinton pushed for and signed. It was a bipartisan piece of legislation, the Government Management Reform Act, the Information Technology Management Reform Act.
And we, we're making a lot of progress towards institutionalizing this process of change, but by far the most important factor is the attitude on the part of federal employees. Changing the culture in the work place is the most important thing of all, and I think we've made a lot of progress in institutionalizing that change process.
MR. BOWLES: Here's a great question from the audience: "Its interest and enthusiasm in reinvention seems to be waning. What can we do to reinvigorate the reform effort?"
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, certainly my interest and enthusiasm is not waning, and I don't feel that, that it's waning on the part of the federal employees, either. I think that people who get a taste of this process and see the positive results in their own lives, and in the way the government operates, feel good about it, and want to continue it.
And what we're trying to do is refocus the whole process on results, get the American people into the process through the kinds of things that Ed and Wendell talked about, regular dialogues. Performance measurement. Customer standards that can be measured and followed and tuned into.
And I don't think that we really have to reinvigorate anything. I think we just need to keep the focus on the kind of progress that's needed and the process that's underway.
I talk about it all the time. I've got a whole series of meetings in the near future on this. I'm planning to meet with about 2,000 members of the SES on May 5th and I'll talk about it then. We've got a GPRA meeting coming up. There's a whole long list.
So it's constantly being pursued and reinvigorated as we go along.
MS. CAMPBELL: O.K. I also have the last question. "Mr. Vice President, how, in your opinion, can we, as career civil servants, best exemplify the goals of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, and what can we do individually to make a real difference?"
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, you are the face of the federal government to the American people. You are the government, because you make it operate every single day. And putting your whole hearts into it, using your best judgment, driving the process of change in the offices and agencies and departments where you work, that can make all of the difference.
Two years ago, a group of employees from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service brought a poster to this conference with a pledge on it that said: "Reinvention is my responsibility, and I'm going to do something about it."
Well, today that group was just given the Hammer Award, and I congratulate them on it. And I congratulate all the federal employees who have that kind of attitude and that kind of approach. We can all do our part in restoring faith in the process of self-government.
And I honestly believe that, as American citizens, we have a challenge facing us right now that is, in many ways, more important than any our nation, or the American people, have ever faced. We're seeing a process of change in the world that all of us feel in our bones is very unusual and unprecedented.
These hits on the Internet that Dan Goldin talked about didn't just come from the United States. They came from practically every part of the globe. And everywhere in the world where there's a process of change, they're looking here to the United States of America as their role model.
Now, that's not just a chauvinistic illusion on our part. As Americans, we're proud of our country, and we like to think we're the role model for the other countries in the world, but we really are. And all, on every continent, you will hear these other people in other countries say that.
And yet, you compare the fervor for democracy and self-government that was so apparent in Eastern Europe, for example, when Communism collapsed, and people were just, you know, so excited about it. Or the fervor for self-government when Nelson Mandela was freed from prison and there was just a surge of great national pride in the new South Africa.
You compare that strong, fresh feeling to the kind of attitude that too many people in the United States have when the stay away from the polls, they don't register to vote. They take a cynical attitude towards our ability to solve problems in this country. That's not the majority, but it's too common, especially at a time when all these other nations are looking to us.
And so restoring our national self-confidence and self-government, redeeming the promise of representative democracy, is a challenge that we must face up to, and that we must surmount successfully.
Now, I mentioned in my opening remarks that the number one reason for the sharp decline in that attitude toward our self-government over the last thirty years, was the feeling that the performance of government had really dropped off. The size had grown and become bloated, without any improvement -- indeed, with a decline in performance.
Restoring that performance, as you all have been doing in the last few years, is a way to leverage the future. It's a way to leverage the future. It's a way to build that great feeling that Ed Esparza talked about, that after thirty-two years as a federal employee, this experience with reinvention is the thing that he carries in his heart as the highlight of his experience in public service.
The experience that Linda talked about, with all the excitement that went into that Mars mission. That kind of feeling, applied to our whole country, is what we need now, and what the world needs to see in the United States of America. It's what our children need. When we restore the promise of self-government, we can really build a bright future for our children and their children. And the people who can do more than practically anybody else as federal employees, right on the front lines, who are willing to put their hearts into it, willing to make this reinvention process work, and really willing to redeem the promise of America.
Thank you, and keep up the great work. [Inaudible].
VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thanks again. You did great. Thank you, sir. You were very eloquent. Thank you. God bless.
[End of proceedings as recorded.]
Contact Info: Pat Wood; 202-694-0063;National Partnership for Reinventing Government;
Source: Transcript from Reinvention Revolution III; National Partnership for Reinventing Government; 750 17th St., Suite 200, Washington, DC
Comments about this site may be sent to the UNT Libraries Government