Title: Al Gore's Address on Regulatory Reform

Author: Executive Office of the Vice President

Date: February 21, 1995


"Reinventing Government"

Vice President Al Gore

Address on Regulatory Reform

The White House

Room 450 OEOB

Washington, D.C.

February 21, 1995


MR. GORE: Thank you very much, and thanks to

everyone for being here today and I want to

acknowledge members of the President's Cabinet who

are here, Secretary Shalala, Secretary Peña,

Administrator Carol Browner, Administrator Phil

Lader, also the head of the Consumer Products Safety

Commission, Ann Brown; the head of the General

Services Administration, Roger Johnson; Commissioner

of the Internal Revenue Service, Peggy Richardson;

Secretary of the Army, Togo West, and others. I see

many familiar faces here today because so many of

you are on the teams of people that I've been

working with at the president's direction to reform

the way regulations are written in Washington.

Also, some of our most progressive federal employees

are here, who have reinvented the way regulations

are actually enforced around the country.

As all of you know, President Clinton has made

regulatory reform one of his top priorities, and

he's made it one of my top priorities. Back on

September 30th, 1993, President Clinton issued

Executive Order 12866, which was acclaimed by the

business community, the public interest community,

the environmental community, et cetera, as a model

of the right way to reform the regulatory process.

Also, from the very beginning, when President

Clinton launched the National Performance Review, he

told me time and time again that regulatory reform

must be a central part of reinventing government

because we do intend to make government work better

and cost less.

I have been leading, at his direction, an

effort of similar magnitude to the reinventing

government project, to find new ways that we can

achieve our national goal of a healthy economy at

work and a healthy and safe environment. Over the

past several months, we have covered a lot of

regulatory territory. We've been having numerous,

very long, nuts and bolts sessions here in this

building, a couple of floors down. And we've

learned two basic practical lessons. First, we can

cut back on the volume of regulations, and we are

doing just that. Secondly, we can improve the

relationship between regulators and the people they

regulate. And when we do these things we get better

results for our country.

If you rummage through the Code of Federal

Regulations, as we've been doing, you will find

things that look worth keeping, things that seem

old-fashioned, and some things that you can't figure

out what in the heck they are. It's like what

you're faced with when you finally get around to

cleaning out the garage. And no president before

this one has ever done it. But now we are in the

midst of it and we're making tremendous progress.

Here's what happened when one agency, the

Comptroller of the Currency, went to work and hauled

out all of its regulatory "trash," so to speak.

They found that while it's a good idea to

calculate bank lending limits four times a year, it

doesn't really need to be done every single day, the

way the old regulation required. That's 246

procedures per year, per bank, hauled out to the

curb with the trash. Every day. They found that if

they translated from their stilted regulatory

language into plain English, they only need one-

quarter as many words, and more Americans like me

can understand it. Along with some streamlining,

this allowed them to get the procedures for a

community bank exam down from 1,216 pages to just 30

pages. That's a lot of pages hauled away and,

believe me, the president's been receiving a lot of

letters from community bankers who have been saying,

"Thank you, Mr. President, for this work that has

been done."

Also, now that the nation has enough experience

with those newfangled automatic teller machines, the

Comptroller of the Currency decided to throw out the

entire application process, all 30 cautious steps,

that banks had to follow before installing a new

machine. They got rid of "yesterday's government,"

to use President Clinton's phrase. This kind of

regulatory clean-up lets regulatory agencies pay

more attention to real problems and it lifts a huge

load of dead weight off American business.

According to Bankers Roundtable, the changes

the Currency Bureau has already made and others that

are in the works will result in, and I quote, "a

more efficient and competitive national bank system,

better serving customers and shareholders." The

Comptroller of the Currency, Gene Ludwig, who is

leading this reform, and one of his satisfied

customers, speaking for many thousands of others,

Jack Dickey (phonetic), who is President of the

First National Bank of Thompson, Oklahoma, are both

with us today. I'd like to ask Gene Ludwig and Jack

Dickey to please stand. Great job, Gene.


Thank you for coming, sir.

The Commerce Department's Bureau of Export

Administration is another example. It's also in the

midst of clearing away the debris that has built up

over the years. They recognize that while it is

important to prevent goods with military application

from getting into the wrong hands, the Cold War is

in fact over and it no longer makes sense to follow

the same elaborate rules that were written in 1949.

So they've begun to whittle down the volumes of

regulations and they're not just throwing away

useless ones, they're also rethinking the entire

approach from the ground up. Exports used to be

prohibited unless you got permission. Now, you'll

be able to sell most products abroad unless the

government acts to specifically designate the

product as requiring a license. This ought to

increase exports and create new American jobs. It's

already doing so.

So it is possible to cut back on the bulk of

regulations, simplify them, and get better results.

But the number of complex regulations is only half

the problem. As President Clinton has repeatedly

emphasized, it is also the adversarial and seemingly

mindless enforcement methods that really get under

people's skins. Business owners are sick of being

treated like criminals. They see a government that

just doesn't make sense, that charges them with

safety violations when no one is in harm's way. A

government that protects the environment by using up

forest after forest worth of paperwork, a government

that is obsessed with procedures but oblivious to


We found out what causes this problem. It

involves an elementary management principle. You

get what you measure. Generally speaking,

regulatory agencies have been measuring process and

punishment. They evaluate the performance of front-

line workers in those terms. Now, I know there are

plenty of exceptions on the part of pioneers who

have helped lead the way and who have helped us

learn this lesson that informs what the president is

ordering today, but, generally speaking, this has

been the case. They evaluate whether people have

checked all the forms properly, they evaluate how

many violations they've found, they evaluate how

many fines they have issued. It's the same kind of

pressure that some traffic cops have to meet when

they're given a ticket quota for each month. Over

80 percent of front-line performance measures

involve process or punishment. Agencies even

measure their corporate productivity in terms of

process and punishment. Investigations,

inspections, arrests.

One of the clearest examples we found is one

that Ann Brown inherited at the Consumer Products

Safety Commission, and let me make it clear, they're

in the process of changing their measures of success

but one that was there measured the number of

shipments of imported consumer products detained at

dockside. So somebody who was doing a really good

job would have lots of consumer products detained at

dockside. That was a measure of success. If you

weren't detaining products at dockside, if they

weren't stacking up, then you weren't doing a good

job. And so the measure is being changed. It

didn't matter whether the boxes contained dangerous

products or safe products, even if the boxes were

empty. If you could detain them at dockside, you

could chalk up a success.

And anybody who wonders why adversarial

relationships between business owners and regulators

develop, there is part of the answer and it's being

fixed because of a good, strong leadership and

President Clinton's direction and insistence. It

doesn't have to be that -- it doesn't have to stay

the way it was. It can change, and it must. And we

found quite a few excellent models of partnership

between business owners and regulators, partnerships

that are focused on results, not on process and


One of the finest examples we came across is in

Miami, where the Customs Service has formed a

partnership with the trade community, a partnership

that makes businesses more profitable and actually

increases their compliance with Customs regulations.

Rail Pedrozza (phonetic), the President of Eagle

Companies, a Miami-based shipper, recently wrote a

letter to Lynn Gordon, the District Director of

Customs, in which he said that the positive change

is a "dramatic departure from that which permeated

federal agencies in the past," end quote.

And there are hundreds, indeed thousands, of

similar examples of business people noting the

positive change that is now evident. Mr. Pedrozza

cites cuts in red tape that are saving his company

over 8,000 man-hours of overhead this year and

stimulating new jobs in the community. In closing,

Mr. Pedrozza says, and I quote, "It is comforting to

know that at least in Miami the Customs Service has

put the word "service" back in its name." I'd like

to ask Mr. Pedrozza and Lynn Gordon, who are both in

the audience, to stand and take a bow.


Great job.

And Mr. President, as I've mentioned to you,

Lynn Gordon is one of the front-line regulators

reinventing this whole process who spent a lot of

time here helping us learn how the change process

comes about, and just as with the National

Performance Review, we are learning the most from

the federal employees on the front lines who've been

speaking out, trying to change a lot of the nonsense

for years but have had no one who would listen to

them until you took office and sent out the word,

"We've got to change and we want the good ideas that

you have for us."

There's another example in Maine, where Joe

Deere and the Occupational Safety and Health

Administration formed a partnership with the state's

most hazardous industries, a partnership that has

resulted in much safer workers and a lot less

paperwork. The Environmental Protection Agency has

put partnership to work too, in their 3350 program;

1,400 companies agreed to cut pollution in half by

the end of this year, and many of them are ahead of

that schedule. In the Brownsfield project, EPA, the

states and local organizations teamed up -- in this

case, in Cleveland -- to deal with toxic wastes on

abandoned property and the project has already

created 100 new private sector jobs. And in the EPA

Waste Wise Program, 350 companies are voluntarily

setting up recycling programs because it's good for

their bottom line and good for the environment.

So, Mr. President, these examples convince me

that we do indeed know how to reduce regulation. We

do know how to perform successful partnerships. We

do know how to switch from red tape to results. If

we take these examples to heart, we can achieve the

goal of a healthy economy at work in a healthy and

safe environment.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, the person who

started this process, who has insisted from Day One

that we have reform yes, rollback no; the person who

has insisted that reinvent the whole regulatory

process to keep the protections that the American

people support and justly demand but eliminate the

red tape, the nonsense, the unnecessary features

that burden business, the person who is leading this

charge, the President of the United States, Bill



(End of proceedings as recorded.)

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