National Partnership for Reinventing Government
(formerly National Performance Review)


EXPRESS July 29, 1996 Vol. 2, No. 19

An Information Sheet for Federal Communicators, Managers, Workers, and Their Partners--Pass It On


* GSA Unleashes Leases
* President Clinton Issues Executive Order on Information Technology
* Agency Tests Paperless Grant Making
* President's Quality Award Application Is On NPR's Home Page

GSA Unleashes Leases: Agencies Can

Lease Property Starting in October

Effective October 14, the General Services Administration will offer federal agencies the option of leasing office space. At the same time, GSA is overhauling its own practices to offer faster, better and cheaper leasing services.
The new program is "Can't Beat GSA Leasing." Agencies will have the option of leasing on their own, or using GSA's new competitive program. GSA has been the government's sole agent for leasing private office space since its establishment in 1949. Acting Administrator Dave Barram and Robert Peck, Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service, announced the new policy at a meeting of GSA's more than 700 leasing staff in Chicago on July 9-11.
The agency's action in opening itself to competition follows through on a recommendation of the Vice President's National Performance Review in 1993. Peck said that GSA staff are energized at the prospect of competing. They believe that when agencies are given the choice, most will find,"You can't beat GSA." The new program builds on lessons learned in a number of GSA Reinvention Labs. These practices, Peck said, have already saved government more than $300 million. Later this year, GSA's leasing agents will also begin switching to real estate software proven in the corporate world.
For more information, contact Johanna Roark at (202) 501-0977 or email:

President Issues Executive Order: Agencies Will Coordinate

Across Government on Information Technology

President Clinton on July 16 signed Executive Order 13011 on Federal Information Technology. The order expands on the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 that goes into effect on August 8.
Big changes are afoot when it comes to buying and using IT. The Act permits federal agencies to buy their own computers and computer systems, replacing the centralized responsibility of the General Services Administration. The President's order calls on agencies to shift their focus from the technology itself to what technology can help agencies accomplish. Agencies should buy technology that will help them meet their strategic missions and perform better.
The new law creates a new, visible position in each agency, the chief information officer, instead of a previous information resources official. These CIOs have a big job. The government spends $25 billion annually on information technology. The President's order establishes a CIO Council as a forum for agency CIOs to share ideas, learn from each other and make recommendations for all of government.
The President directs managers to buy IT in smaller chunks when it's practical. These can be built and tested more quickly than the mammoth systems of yesterday that took forever to buy and were out of date before they ever got installed. The order also sets up a Government Information Technology Services Board that will include some outside experts. This board will see that NPR's IT recommendations continue to happen.
The executive order is on NPR's home page at Go to "Library." For more information, after Aug. 14 contact Jasmeet Seehra at or (202) 395-3123.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious

Diseases Tests Paperless Grant Making

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is testing a paperless, Internet-based, peer review process for certain research grants. It allows reviewers' confidential critiques and scores to be pasted onto a secure screen. Critiques are shielded until all are in the system. At that time, the shield is lowered and reviewers can see the scores and critiques for all applications. (When an organization uses the Internet to do internal processes, it's called an "intranet." See Reinvention Express, July 12, 1996, Vol. 2, No. 18.)
The RFP (request for proposals) is also going on the Internet, according to Dr. John McGowan, director of the Division of Extramural Activities. "Proposals will be submitted and reviewed via the Internet, and the contract award will be made electronically. Nothing will be done on paper, except the contract signing, a legal requirement," he said.
NIAID also communicates with the research community through NIAID Council News on its Internet home page ( It tells potential grantees how much money the Institute has, where it would like to spend it, and who makes the funding decisions. It used to be a paper newsletter. On the Internet it can be immediately updated.
These online activities are a part of the agency's reinvention activities--all aimed at speeding up grant awards. For example, there used to be a 3-4 month delay between the arrival of grant applications and a meeting of its Advisory Council, which makes funding decisions. No more. "We realized you don't need a council meeting to do a council review," McGowan said. Council members do their reviews electronically. By next year, Council sessions will be paperless, saving at least $100,000.
For more information, contact Dr. McGowan at (301) 496-7291 or email:

* * * * *
Quality Award Application Is on NPR's Web Site--The application package for the 1997 President's Quality Award Program is on NPR's home page ( Look under "News Room." Apply to the Office of Personnel Management by October 11. For information, call Coleen Kenney at (703) 312-7331.

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