National Partnership for Reinventing Government
Army Conference: Acquisitions and Logistics Initiatives
The Power of Partnership
Remarks by Morley Winograd, Director
National Partnership for Reinventing Government
November 16, 1998
Thank you, Mr. Ferlise.
It is a real pleasure to address this meeting. You are focused on making our national
defenses and the Army in particular, more efficient and effective. I want to particularly
thank General Wilson, Assistant Secretary Hoeper, Deputy Assistant Secretary Oscar, Major
General Gust and Mr. Louis Giuliano.
Thank you for this opportunity to share in your journey to the Army of tomorrow.
I can tell you that Vice President Gore, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, is deeply
appreciative of your enthusiasm and commitment. He regards reinventing the support systems
for our front line fighters as an absolute priority.
That priority is even more urgent in light of the current crisis in Iraq and the mobilization
of our troops. When the United States won its decisive victory in Desert Storm, the Army was
quite clear on why we won. We had the best-trained Army in our history equipped with the best
stuff on the field of battle. It was the first victory for troops prepared to fight an
Information Age war and "our stuff worked". Most of you in this room have the
job of making sure that "our stuff" continues to work -- and not just works, but prevails.
As I leafed through the program, I noticed this relevant phrase: "reshape the
infrastructure so that evolutionary changes will occur that provide distribution-based
systems that substitute velocity for mass, and that provide the right stuff, at the right
place, at the right time, and at the right cost." Now as most of you know, the Vice
President promotes the use of Plain Language every chance he gets.
The last part about providing the troops "the right stuff, at the right place,
at the right time and at the right cost" is great. That’s plain language. But instead of
that rather lengthy "velocity for mass" introduction, I suggest that you substitute
the words of that controversial and innovative Confederate general, Nathan Bedford Forrest.
As Forrest put it, the key to victory was "to be the fustest with the mostest."
Today we would say "speed wins".
Perhaps this could be the plain language goal of this conference: "To create
a system that makes sure our front line fighters are always the fustest with the
mostest -- the right stuff, at the right place, at the right time, and at the right cost."
To accomplish that goal it will require one of the strongest forces discovered in these five
years of reinventing government. That force is known as the POWER OF PARTNERSHIP. You are here
from business, from the Pentagon, from Army bases and operations across the nation and around
the world. You are here sponsored by two outstanding associations – the Society for Logistics
Engineers and the Society of American Value Engineers. And your host for this conference is the
Fort Monmouth Community. On behalf of the Vice President, let me thank Major General Nabors and
his Ft. Monmouth team for helping to bring all of the partners together.
All of you are here to unleash the POWER of PARTNERSHIP in reinventing how we support and supply
our troops. Based on my experience in applying the principles of reinvention, I am sure that great
things will happen as a result of this meeting.
Let me give you a brief history of reinventing government as a way of demonstrating the power of
these reinvention principles. In 1993, President Clinton asked Vice President Gore to reinvent
government, to create a government that worked better and cost less. To accomplish that task,
Vice President Gore created the National Performance Review – or NPR – as a kind of "Reinvention
Corps," a volunteer team of front-line government workers.
The NPR’s first job was to collect and to share know-how and can-do – there is a vast reservoir of
such talent in the federal government – and to create a dialogue with the federal workforce. Some of
you in this room probably contributed to that effort.
The Vice President also went personally from agency to agency inspiring the troops and launching a
campaign to generate recommendations on how to improve government. This reinvention effort, unlike
previous government reform efforts, is not the creation of an ivory-tower panel of experts. The Vice
President proceeded on the premise that "workers know work," and that the people who knew
best how to fix government were the frontline workers themselves.
NPR collected ideas from workers all over the country, and refined them into a series of
recommendations. Some of these recommendations could be implemented almost immediately, others
are still awaiting a legislative go-ahead five years later. But the changes that have been made
resulted in radical improvement.
We celebrated the fifth anniversary of the NPR in March. What has been accomplished in that
time? To date reinventing government has resulted in $137 billion in savings and the federal
workforce is smaller by 351,000 people, as small as it was in the administration of John F.
Kennedy. Our procurement reforms, made possible by the support they received from the Congress,
have been rated by the Brookings Institution as rating an A for accomplishment in transforming
government. And public trust in government to do the right thing has improved for the first
time in nearly 30 years. After a continuous decline from 70% in the sixties it reached a low
of 17% before this administration took office. It has risen to the mid-thirties since 1993.
That is achieving Vice President Gore’s ultimate goal for reinvention – to restore the trust
of the American people in their government.
For all of its success in the first five years, it was clear that to make the next set of
changes in our government, to complete the process of completely transforming government before
the 21st Century, we needed to change our strategies as well. So to mark our fifth
anniversary, the NPR changed its name to emphasize our new focus on partnerships. As most of
you know, "NPR" no longer stands for the "National Performance Review,"
but has been renamed the "National Partnership for Reinventing Government".
It was time, we are no longer in the business of reviewing government performance. We are in
the business of building partnerships, and you in the defense community are key partners in
We developed a new vision statement: "America @ Our Best." It
is a vision that successfully aligns all of the forces that impact the successful accomplishment
of our mission. Taxpayers, those who are the recipients of government services, federal government
employees, policy-makers and influencers all have a voice in what kind of government we should
create. By stating clearly that our overarching purpose is to create a government that represents
America at our best we eliminated a lot of potential controversy over what NPR is about. People
may disagree with our tactics, but we have found few who are in favor of America at our worst.
The vision reads like a website address, and that is on purpose. America @ Our
Best implies a key role for information technology as we reinvent government. IT will
enable us to accomplish much more, much sooner, and much cheaper. A large part of this meeting
is focused on that premise.
Next the NPR established our values as an organization:
The most important unspoken question anyone has when asked to partner with someone is,
"Do I share this person’s values?" If not, it is very difficult to trust them enough
to be in a partnership with them. So we decided to make our values explicit and even define what
they mean as you can see in this overhead. I think these values are shared with all of you here today.
But if we don’t have a shared set of values, partnership won’t, in the long run, work.
In time for the 21st Century, reinvent government to work better, cost
less, and get results Americans care about.
We didn’t change the mission much. "Works better and costs less" is still the key
to NPR’s mission. But we did add the important phrase "get results Americans care about."
Bureaucracy has a tendency to tinker around the edges, to make changes that only a few would understand
or notice. We have to focus on issues and programs that can make a real, palpable difference in the
quality of our citizens’ lives. And so we are now focused on five key strategies that we think are
so powerful or catalytic in their nature, that they will allow us to transform government forever.
The first strategy is to change the way we incent and measure our success. It isn’t just achieving
our performance goals, although they are certainly important and need to be more tightly linked to
each leader’s performance evaluation. We also need to make sure those goals are being accomplished
in ways that involve the front line workers and satisfy our customers. Those are two of NPR’s
original ideas and we now want to weave all three of these elements of reinvention—results from
GPRA, customers and employee satisfaction—into the woof and warp of every agencies processes.
The second is to create an electronic government—on line and always accessible by its citizens.
The outline of this idea is contained in a major publication of NPR last year entitled Access
America, and we will be rolling out the first set of applications for students in this on line
world yet this year. Eventually we hope to transform how people think of government, using this
E.Gov concept just as much as Amazon.com has transformed how American’s think about buying books.
Third, we want all parts of government to rethink their mission. It is not to conduct a specific
set of activities or increase their budgets from year to year. Instead it is to focus on the
outcomes or results Americans care about and to do it without regard to current organizational
boundaries. The best example of this strategy is the Food Safety Council established by Executive
Order of President Clinton this fall. Five different government agencies, including the Defense
Department, are now working to achieve a common vision of how to provide Americans with the safest
Fourth, we have identified 32 High Impact Agencies whose activities are so central to how
American’s think about government that they need to be at the forefront of our reinvention
activities. One of these is the Defense Acquisitions activity that Jacques Gansler leads in
the Department of Defense that is so critical to your own work. We want, and I know Jacques,
wants, each of these organizations to transform their business processes, information technology
and culture to deliver the "fustest with the mostest" to their customers.
Finally, we want to enroll every government employee and as many in the private sector that
we can recruit to join us in convincing the rest of the country that it is possible to reinvent
our government and once again make it the very best that America has to offer. It is only by doing
that that we can accomplish the ultimate goal of reinvention.
Restore trust in America’s government by providing:
Best value for each taxpayer dollar
Best service for each customer and regulated business
Best workplace for its employees
Best legacy for our future
When Americans once again think that "good enough for government work" means the very
best that can be done, we will have finished the job of reinvention. Everyone here can help. All
you have to do is your very best to make it happen.