Remarks by Bob Stone, Project Director
National Performance Review

Food and Drug Administration/Merck
Hammer Award
Elkton, Virginia
October 28, 1996

Thank you. I want to thank you for the chance to come to Elkton. I've never been here before. But, I'm happy that I've gotten the chance. First of all, because we got to see some beautiful foliage on the way down from Washington. And, second, because I always enjoy coming to a place where reinvention is at work.

We're here today to horor a group of people who have demonstrated what reinventing government is all about. We're always proud when we can honor a group of people who have found a way to save taxpayers' hard-earned dollars. We're very pleased when we can thank people for cutting out waste, or for making a system work better for Americans.

But, in this case, it's especially meaningful. Because, when the people at FDA in Baltimore worked with the folks from Merck here in Elkton, they helped Americans stricken with a terrible disease find a little more hope and a little better health. This is something that you should all be very, very proud of.

Now, there's something else noteworthy about this award. It's presented both to government workers and to private-sector workers, who came together as a team, in partnership. Now, in the old days, the idea of government and industry working together was about as likely to happen as .... well, Al Gore doing the "macarena" on national TV.

But, lo and behold, here we are. The unthinkable is happening. Government is stepping back and asking itself, "is there a better way to get the job done?"

And, by letting front-line workers like the folks at the Baltimore District Office of the FDA do their job, we're finding a better way. And, people are noticing. Just last month, Twentieth Century Funds recommended Merck and Co. stock --- because of the new regulatory environment it is operating in.

I'm not naive. I know that this hasn't happened everywhere. But, it is happening in some important places, and it's making a difference. What this group of people has accomplished is real. By working together, FDA and Merck teamed up to get Crixivan, one of the most promising of a series of new treatments for AIDS, approved for use in record time. The entire approval process was cut to 42 days, the fastest-ever approval of a new drug by the FDA.

In recognition of what this group accomplished, in a moment, I'll present Vice President Gore's "Hammer Award."

He gives them to people who are breaking the old mold and making government work better and cost less. Clearly, you all are doing just that.

And, if you find someone who's not with the program, you can use it to knock some sense into them. Just kidding. Of course we don't condone the use of violence in reinventing government. But, we'll do just about anything else to get results. And, we're not the only ones saying that we are getting results. A few weeks ago, Vice President Gore presented President Clinton with his annual report on reinventing government.

It's called "The Best Kept Secrets in Government," because stories about government working better and costing less don't seem to draw too much attention. If you want to be in on the secrets, you can pick it up at your local bookstore.

In it, there are stories of people outside of Washington -- front line workers, businesspeople, average citizens, and local leaders -- who see the change, and are talking about it.

They see a government that's turning course away from the old antagonistic model and toward a more efficient one that works better and costs less. They see changes like those that this fine group of people have brought here.

And, make sure that you look at page 79. Because, that's where you can read about the tremendous success story that took place right here in Elkton. The Vice President was so impressed with what you all did that he included it in his book. And, now, he asked me to come and present each of you with a token of appreciation for what you've done.

So, let me ask Ken Sheelan, FDA's Baltimore District Director and Dr. Chuck Vencill, Merck's Plant Manager in Elkton, to come up and receive the Hammer, on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration and Merck and Company. And, to everyone in the group, congratulations, and thank you.

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