5/19/99: Bob Stone's Farewell to Reinventors


National Partnership for Reinventing Government

Bob Stone's Farewell Letter to Federal Reinventors

Bob Stone's Family
Bob Stone, Reinvention's Energizer-in-Chief emeritus, (back row, second from left) with his family.

May 19, 1999

Today is my last as a federal employee, after 30 years of service. From the first day, back in the bowels of the Pentagon in 1969 to my last assignment leading the Vice President's campaign to reinvent government, it's been "...one of those fabulous flings, a trip to the moon on gossamer wings." My jobs have been so rewarding and so fun (most days) that I never ceased to marvel that they'd actually pay me to do this.

I received many honors and much praise at my going away party, but the honor I'll always keep in my heart is hearing Vice President Gore say, "Do you know who knew what was wrong in government and how to fix it? Front line employees. They are the ones who knew-who still know-and Bob became their voice inside this White House."

If I was the voice of front-line employees inside the White House, then my time was well spent indeed. Now here's a serious question for all you reinventors. What will you do for energy after the Energizer-in-Chief is gone? I'll tell you what to do.

Go back to the roots of reinvention. Listen to the GS-9 benefits clerk in Sacramento who is trying to help people get the benefits they have coming - but who isn't trusted to approve a disability claim delivered in person by a recent amputee. She will give you energy to keep reinventing.

Go back to the roots of reinvention - to the GS-14 program manager who's creating decent housing for the poor - but who gets hassled over time-cards, and needs a dozen approval signatures on a simple answer to a routine Congressional letter. He'll re-energize you any time you need it.

Go to the roots of reinvention and listen to all the men and women who signed up to make a difference for America -listen to their stories about working like Dilbert in dreary cubicles, contending with pointy-haired bosses who don't have a clue about trust and enthusiasm. Go get in touch with the power in them - the untapped potential that, unleashed, will restore America's faith in government.

I was lucky enough to get in touch with that power long ago, and it energized me for decades. Filled me with enough energy to spare for so many of you.

But, now the Energizer-in-Chief has gone. You're going to have to go to the source yourselves - to the men and women of government.

They will tell you the job of reinvention is not done. They will tell you how to do it. And they will give you the energy to go on.

As for me, my grandchildren are calling. They're in California doing all sorts of things for the first time - while here, I have done more and more for the last. All in all, it's time for me to be with them.

But I'll never forget any of you - or the dream we share.

And I'll be out there with the rest of America watching - not settling for any less than the best - Americans never settle for less.

So, some day when you're down - when a setback makes you wonder what's the use - just remember my pink ears, my cotton tail - and keep on going, and going, and going, and going.

Related Documents

History of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR)

NPR's Vision, Values, Mission, and Strategies


The Culture Change Speech by Bob Stone

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