National Partnership for Reinventing Government
(formerly National Performance Review)
An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On
Lisa Kudrow--you may know her as "Phoebe" on NBC's hit sitcom Friends--was in Washington, DC on February 23 to film public service announcements with Vice President Gore. Lisa plugs the Internal Revenue Service's newest customer-friendly TeleFile Service--filing a tax return by touch tone phone. Filing takes about 6 minutes and the phone system does the math. Any refund comes within 21 days. In the spots, "Phoebe," a ditsy blond, demonstrates how easy it is to file by phone. The new TeleFile service can be used by 20 million taxpayers who use Form 1040EZ. The toll-free number is inside the tax package.
IRS Has Other Services to Make Taxes Less Taxing
Here are other IRS innovations to make filing your return easier or to speed up any refund:
Use Your Home Computer. Until this year, almost all electronic returns were filed through commercial tax services. This year you can file from your home computer if you have one of several tax preparation software applications like Kiplinger Tax Cut or Intuit's Turbo Tax for Windows. Once your return is accepted, you'll have to mail in a signature form and your W-2s. IRS staff don't have to enter data into a computer as they do with paper returns and refunds only take 3 weeks. For information, see IRS's home page at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov/prod/cover/html.
Get Forms Online. Formless in Phoenix? Don't sweat it. Last year IRS put more than 500 forms and instruction booklets online. Try the home page above. Or access by modem (703) 321-8020, or Telnet, iris.irs.ustreas.gov, or FTP, ftp.irs.ustreas.gov. IRS received the Vice President's Hammer Award and an award from Government Computer News for this innovation. PC Computing News named IRS one of the top 101 Internet sites; FOSE said it was in top 10. CNN said the IRS home page is "colorful, campy, easy to use, and even fun." IRS is even getting fan mail. One customer wrote--electronically of course--"The information and forms that you provide online are a lifesaver! It's sooooooooo much easier than going through the mail." Contact Pamela Cobbs at (202) 927-2234.
Get 57 Frequently-Asked-For Forms by FAX. It's easy. Your FAX machine has to call their FAX machine. Find out how by calling (703) 487-4160.
Use Direct Deposit. You can get your refund deposited directly into your bank account whether you file on paper or electronically. Use Form 8888 that came with your tax package. If it didn't, call (800) TAX-FORM.
It wouldn't surprise us if people in Moscow, Russia, didn't know that federal workers are reinventing government. But what about people in Moscow, Idaho? They didn't either until retired federal worker Sam Butterfield spoke up.
Sam, a former manager with the U.S. Agency for International Development in posts over the world, retired to his hometown of Moscow, Idaho, in 1981. He's very active in the Rotary Club, including making an occasional speech. When he announced the topic of a recent speech--status of the efforts to reinvent government--his audience of business and community leaders openly expressed their skepticism.
REGO Successes Were News to Them
As he began to tell stories from Common Sense Government, Vice President Gore's recent report to the President, Sam Butterfield noticed that the mood of his listeners began to change. "The story of the government beginning to change itself is a great story, and a persuasive one," he said. "It was quite clear that the REGO efforts and successes of federal workers were truly news to this audience. The message was both surprising and encouraging to them. The Maine OSHA story really got their attention." (In Maine 200, OSHA workers traded penalties and punishment for partnership with 200 companies to achieve much safer workplaces. Call Bill Freeman at (207) 941-8177. See Reinvention Express, May 19, 1995, Vol. 1, No. 9. )
Participants Began to Share Their Positive Experiences with Government
In the question and answer period, members of the audience began to share their own positive experiences with government. A recently retired minister volunteered that he had been very impressed with the way the Social Security Administration had treated him when he let them know that they had failed to include $40,000 to $50,000 of his lifetime earnings. One of the town's leading accountants jumped in to tell about a number of things the IRS was doing to help tax filers. (See IRS story above.) "The Q and A turned into a very rich dialog," Sam said, "and a very supportive one." He closed by linking reinventing government to increasing the American people's trust in their government and in their capacity to collectively solve the nation's problems.
For More Information
Sam Butterfield got his copy of Common Sense Government from his son, NPR staffer Stephen Butterfield. To get your copy, call NPR's customer service desk at (202) 632-0150. Call Sam at (208) 882-4668.
We want your success stories and lessons learned. For more information, contact Pat Wood, National Performance Review, 750-17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 632-0223; FAX: (202) 632-0390; email: email@example.com. To subscribe by Internet e-mail, send a message to: Listproc@etc.fed.gov. Put this message: SUBSCRIBE EXPRESS-L FirstName LastLame. Put three spaces: after the word "SUBSCRIBE," after "EXPRESS-L," and after FirstName. The Express is on the Internet at http://www.npr.gov. If you want to subscribe by fax, fax your fax number to Pat.