Document Name: 01/12/95: VP Al Gore's Reinvention Phase 2 Remarks
Owner: National Performance Review
Title: V.P. Al Gore's Reinvention Phase 2 Remarks
Author: Executive Office of the Vice President
Date: January 12, 1995
* Vice President Al Gore's Remarks *
* Reinvention Phase 2 Kickoff *
* January 12, 1995 *
It's good to see you all here today. Thank you for
I want to thank you all for being willing to spend
the next few months of your time and your energy and
your creativity reinventing government.
You are now -- each and every one of you -- central
figures in an historic event. You are going to play
pivotal roles in one of America's most important
transitions -- the transition from yesterday's
government to the government of the twenty-first
century -- the transition from the government of our
parents and grandparents, to the government of our
children and of our grandchildren.
The task before you -- and the opportunity before
you -- is greater than most people in government
service ever experience. But I know that people in
government service have a great capacity for
selfless, hard work and for creativity. And I
understand the desire that brought you into
government service in the first place -- the desire
to make a difference, the desire to contribute to
your country. So, I am confident that you are equal
to this task, and I know that you are eager for this
Over a year ago, a group of government workers very
much like yourselves completed the first National
Performance Review. You will now conduct the second
National Performance Review.
The first NPR group found good news, and they found
bad news. The good news is that federal workers are
nothing like their negative stereotype. They're not
stupid, not lazy, and not satisfied with just going
through the motions and following rules. Federal
workers work hard; they're smart; and they want to
do a good job.
The bad new was our systems -- our systems of
management, our systems of organizing, our systems
of controlling money, and procurement, and
personnel. All of our systems were based on MISTRUST
of the perfectly good people -- the absolutely GREAT
people -- who work for the government. And systems
based on mistrust are expensive and
So, just over a year ago, we set out to change the
systems. To change them from central control based
on mistrust, to systems that will capitalize on the
intelligence, good judgment, and dedication of our
people -- systems that are based on TRUST, and that
provide federal workers the OPPORTUNITY to do a good
job for America.
We've made a lot of progress in changing to systems
of trust and opportunity, and we are not, in any
way, giving up or slowing down or turning our
attention away from that campaign.
Now, President Clinton and I are asking you to add
new intensity, and a new dimension to the
Now it is time to complete the transition within
government, and time to extend the same principles
of trust and opportunity to the states, and to
communities across the country, to businesses, and
to individuals. If America is to regain trust in her
government, America's government must reinvent
itself based on trust.
That is what the government of the future is all
about -- trust and opportunity.
- It is about trusting communities and individuals
to make good decisions -- giving them the
opportunity to solve their own problems. That's
the kind of thing we have already decided to do
with HUD and Transportation grants, and with
public housing, and with job training. We want you
to look for ways to do more.
- Government of the future is about trusting in the
vigor of the competitive, private marketplace to
produce better service, higher quality products,
and greater efficiency than public or private
monopolies have been able to produce. We want you
to look for those opportunities.
- Government of the future is about giving
businesses new opportunities to become trusted
partners in enforcing laws and achieving national
excellence. We are already doing it in some places
like the Customs Office and the Trade Community in
Miami. Look for ways to do it in worker safety,
environmental protection, and the whole range of
regulatory functions. Trust but verify.
- Government of the future is about never
sacrificing our standards of excellence, never
abandoning our responsibilities, but always
discarding the remnants of yesterday's government
-- always discarding the old basic presumption of
mistrust and the excessive interference it leads
to -- always discarding red tape in favor of
If you need a place to start ferreting out
yesterday's government, try the code of federal
regulation. There is plenty to work with -- over
150,000 pages of government rules in scores of
volumes that stretch across 21 feet of book shelves.
I don't expect you to read it all. At one minute a
page, reading eight hours a day, five days a week,
allowing two weeks vacation, you would be reading
until early April of 1996.
Now, I am not one to jump to conclusions, and I am
not contending that everything in the CFR is
unnecessary -- not without a little more review at
least -- but I am sure you will find passages that
will raise in your mind the question: "Do we really
need to be doing this?"
Just skimming through volume fifty for example, you
will run across this section describing the proper
way to evaluate the odor of fish. I quote:
"For the examination of small units, break the flesh
either with the thumbs or by cutting with a knife in
several places. Hold the cut or broken flesh close
to the nose for evaluation.
"For the examination of large units, a core may be
used. Drill a hole into the hard frozen fish with a
high-speed quarter inch drill. As soon as the drill
is withdrawn, the hole and drillings are smelled."
Grade A fish possesses "good" odor. Grade B fish
possesses "reasonably good odor."
Is this kind of government involvement useful? Is it
effective? Of course, government must be involved in
food safety. But, is there a way we could rely on
market incentives and people's common sense instead
of government interference? Can we get the
government's nose out of this business?
I do apologize for the pun, but keep asking
yourselves that basic question as you review
agencies and programs.
Your job is to reinvent a government of the people
-- where trust and opportunity are moved out of
Washington back to communities and individuals.
Your job is to reinvent a government for the people
-- where success is measured in terms of results
that our customers care about.
President Clinton and I want government reinvented
by the people -- by you, the smart, hard working
federal workers who have too long been maligned, and
too long been mistrusted. You deserve better. You
deserve this chance to make a difference.
The one thing we don't want -- the thing it is your
job to get rid of -- is government ON the people.
Yesterday's government is too much of a burden on
the people. Yesterday's government interferes too
much with the people. The people don't want so much
burden. They don't want so much interference.
They don't want yesterday's government. But neither
do they want to eliminate government. They do want
They want to know that we "get it." They want the
same customer-driven, results-oriented, quality
management they can see in the private sector and in
some public organizations.
So, that's what you're here for. That's your task,
and that's your great, historic, once-in-a-lifetime,
This is really big.
And you have to think big. Big and bold. Big and
bold and outside the box.
Whatever aspect of government you will be reviewing,
whatever the agency or program or issue, ask
yourself, is this yesterday's government? Is this
getting the results we need today and for the
future? How can I change things to create trust and
opportunity for America's children in the
President Clinton and I want the benefit of your
boldest, most creative thinking. We want you to
consider every option that can achieve the goal.
I want the teams to lay out all of the options, even
the ones that are so bold that they make you
nervous. I want Cabinet Secretaries and agency heads
and Elaine Kamarck and Bob Stone to bring forward
all of the options, even the ones that are so bold
that they make them nervous. And I will discuss the
options with the President, even some that are so
bold that they make my eyes wide.
We might not chose the boldest ideas you can come up
with. But we want to know what they are.
I encourage you to take the risk of having your
co-workers laugh at you bold ideas. If you are not
taking some risks, you are not creating the
government of tomorrow.
I want to say a special word to agency heads and
senior managers who are here today. Its about our
responsibility to people who have chosen careers of
government service and whose jobs are now threatened
by the historic changes we must bring about.
I want you to pay special attention to helping these
people through the transition. Jim King has a
variety of programs that you should make good use
of. And work with your union partners very closely.
I don't have any set formula for you to follow. But
you must deal with your people openly, honestly, and
with great respect.
Make it your personal commitment to see that they
all come through with the dignity they deserve and
as much future opportunity as you can provide. When
it is all over, this is the part that we will
measure ourselves by -- how we treated our people.
Now, it's time for all of you gathered here today to
begin to change the course of American history. You
are going to help America shed the remnants of
yesterday's government. You are going to reinvent a
government of trust, a government of opportunity, a
government that you will be proud to tell your
grandchildren that you helped to create.
I want each of you to be able to look back on this
effort as the most exciting and rewarding part of
your entire career in federal service.
Good luck. I'll be with you all the way.