April 11, 1997, Vol. 3, No. 4

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

Vice President to Federal Workers: You Get the Credit for Reinvention Successes

Citing a recent Hart-Teeter poll that shows a rise in public confidence in government, Vice President Gore told more than 800 federal workers at the 2nd Annual Reinvention Revolution Conference on April 7--and thousands more connected by television satellite--"I attribute it entirely to you, the federal employee. We are absolutely on the right track."

The Vice President gave a sneak preview of a soon-to-be published customer survey conducted by 150 agencies across government. "For the first time, we have real data on how we are doing."

"One hundred percent of calls to U.S. Customs are now answered in 60 seconds or less," he said. "Second, in February of this year, always the busiest month, 97 percent of the Social Security Administration's callers got through in five minutes or less. The Federal Emergency Management Agency piloted a 1-800 customer help line following disasters in New York and Pennsylvania, and 100 percent of the inquiries were answered with a single call." The Vice President also cited agencies' use of technology, particularly the Internet, to make revolutionary changes in customer service.

Overcoming Barriers

"At last year's meeting here at the Natcher Center, you told me of some barriers, and just like you listen to your customers, I listen to you," the Vice President said. "You said there were two main obstacles" to achieving change. "First, you told me that communications to the front lines were poor. Committed reinventors didn't know what was going on in Washington and didn't know what was going on with other reinventors. Second, you said the top brass, or the 'higher ups,' as one person put it, just don't get it.

"Well, on the first point, keeping all the reinventors informed, I think we've made some real progress. The Federal Communicators Network provides reinvention news to the editors of over 350 agency newsletters and similar publications. This network collectively addresses over three million civilian and military federal personnel. There is also an NPR home page at I invite you to check it out. It provides, over the Internet, a whole array of materials and services that now keep us well-informed and able to share bright ideas." (Editor's note: Federal communicators may join the Federal Communicators Network by contacting

Three Magic Words: Blair House Papers

"To your second point," he said, I have three magic words: Blair House Papers. This little red book is the collection of ideas that President Clinton and the Vice President presented to the Cabinet at its Blair House retreat in January. "It is not my book, it is our book," the Vice President said. "Distilled into fifteen steps is what we have learned and what we have taught each other in the first four years of reinvention. This book contains the lessons from front-line reinventors who achieved the beachhead breakouts."

"We're using the Blair House Papers to tell your bosses to get it...implement it, do it. And I'm asking you front-line reinventors, in turn, to use this document as a wedge to ask for, indeed to demand, more responsibility, more authority, and more empowerment...In this, my 1997 state of reinvention address, I hereby declare the era of better government has begun."

Five Front Line Workers Share Their Stories

The Vice President invited five selected front line workers to share their stories:

Welfare to Work and Full Time Equivalents (FTEs)

One conference participant asked if the President's welfare to work initiative conflicted with "rightsizing." Vice President Gore said, "Nobody in the federal government should be any longer managing by FTE ceilings." Managers may manage and hire according to their budgets.

The Vice President's speech is on the NPR Web Site ( Click on News Room, then "Speeches." Welfare to Work is

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