National Partnership for Reinventing Government
(formerly National Performance Review)


April 24, 1998, Vol. 4, No. 4

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


* Vice President Gore's Appearance With Front Line Workers at Conference Had Everything Including the Kitchen Sink

* President Signs Memo Streamlining Waivers for Reinvention Labs; USDA Takes Immediate Action

* Hammer Awards Illustrate Conference Issues

Vice President Gore's Appearance With Front Line Workers at Conference Had Everything Including the Kitchen Sink
Phil Archuleta, a machinist and material handler at the San Diego Marine Corps Recruit Depot, introduced the Vice President of the United States to more than 1,000 reinventors and guests who attended the third annual Reinvention Revolution conference this week.

"When a regular frontline worker stands here introducing the Vice President at a meeting in Washington, you know things have changed in government," Archuleta said.

Archuleta's ticket to Washington was his suggestion that the depot recycle the extra large uniforms that recruits were issued. Recruits wore initial issues only a few weeks because they lost so much weight. And then the uniforms were destroyed. Laundering and reissuing these uniforms saves a quarter of a million dollars every year thanks to Archuleta's suggestion. The first time Archuleta made the suggestion, it didn't take because "it was against regulations."

"When I got a new supervisor," Archuleta said, "I tried again. The new supervisor said, ' Well, I just got this letter saying we are now a Reinvention Lab and that means it's OK. Let's try it."

After Archuleta's introduction, Vice President Gore chatted with employees and customers of the Food and Drug Administration and NASA at a kitchen table with a homey kitchen scene as a backdrop.

Edward Esparza, Southwest Regional FDA Director, and Wendell Gardner, a retired executive from COBE in Denver, described the positive outcome when the agency and companies that make medical devices stopped sparring and started partnering. "We're all winners," Esparza said. It began in 1995 when the President and Vice President "asked people in Washington to get out in the field," Gardner said. FDA and industry officials agreed on a new partnership approach to inspections that led to a nationwide pilot, and finally nationwide policy. "And it was done without asking FDA to give up any of its enforcement authority," Gardner added.

Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Michael Friedman, who was in the audience, said, "This is as close to a total success as any of us could envision." He announced that the new partnering approach would be extended to the pharmaceutical industry as a nationwide pilot.

NASA engineer Linda Robeck said that she was empowered to try shortcuts without fearing failure as the team she led assembled the Mars Pathfinder last summer. To prove it, she gave the Vice President a "back shield interface plate that didn't make it to Mars." She also described a slightly adjusted $300 modem from Motorola that worked just fine in communicating, even with no warranty after it left earth. The mission cost about $230 million, less than the "cost of a movie like Titanic-and with a much happier ending," she said.

Seattle middle school teacher Marion Olson demonstrated a "Mars Rover" designed by one of her students and praised NASA's support of a science curriculum in the schools. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin, who was in the audience, said that NASA currently sponsors more missions at less cost because of reinvention principles. We trust the people who do the job, he explained. "They have the infinite wisdom."

Norma Campbell from Interior and and Norman Bowles, Director of the Federal Aviation Logistics Center in Oklahoma City, joined the Vice President at the kitchen table. Campbell asked the Vice President questions that conference participats had posted in an electronic system called CyberTalk. Bowles presented the Vice President with a new publication, A Taste of Reinvention: Sizzling Change Recipes from the Heartland. The book uses a cooking metaphor to describe workable approaches to reinventing government. It even throws in some real recipes. The cookbook is on the Web at

President Signs MemoStreamlining Waivers for Reinvention Labs;
USDA Takes Immediate Action

Before the kitchen table discussion, the Vice President announced to an appreciative audience that the President had signed a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies streamlining the granting of waivers within federal agencies. Labs often need the waiver of internal rules in order to cut red tape, speed up processes, and improve customer service. Based on best practices in the granting of waivers for reinvention labs, the memorandum calls for acting on waiver requests in 30 days or less. Only the head of an agency can deny waiver requests. Federal departments and agencies must report on their progress by July 1.

The Department of Agriculture acted quickly, going beyond the directive's requirements. The next day Agriculture Under Secretary Richard Rominger announced that he was waiving all Departmental rules and regulations for USDA reinvention labs, and other reinvention activities. "Further written consent is not needed," he said.

The waiver is on the new Reinvention Laboratory and Waiver Clearinghouse at . The Alliance for Redesigning Government hosts the database. For information, contact Mildred Owens, fax: (202) 347-3252 or phone: (202) 347-3190.

Hammer Awards Illustrate Conference Issues
As part of the kitchen table tableau, John Kamensky, an NPR deputy, presented a Hammer Award to the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's Tort Claims Adjudication Team. This team worked long and hard to get a waiver following the reinvention conference two years ago. The group reduced the processing time for claims of less than $2,500 involving government-owned vehicles from about 51 days to about 8 days.

At the end of the conference, NPR Director Morley Winograd presented a Hammer Award to an interagency team for developing a one-stop Web site with information about recreation on federal lands. The agencies are the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the Fish and Wildlife Service the Forest Service, and the National Park Service. This team had promised Vice President Gore they would create this Web site by the year 2000. They met their goal two years early with a Web site that is geared to the customer, the American public, offering information not by federal organization but by topics like hiking, biking, boating, fishing, camping. Visit .

National Partnership for Reinventing Government, 750-17th St., NW, Washington, DC 20006. To subscribe to Reinvention Express, send a message to Put this message: SUBSCRIBE-L FIRSTNAME LASTNAME (no period). The Express is on the Internet at . Click on "News Room." Send reinvention stories to Pat Wood at or fax: (202) 632-0390.

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