Hammer Award Ceremony
Today is December 7, 1998-the fifty-seventh anniversary of the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt said would live in infamy. It was the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor without warning or declaration of war. The day thousands of American soldiers and sailors lost their lives in a place then called the Hawaiian islands.
Defense Working Capital Fund Team
Remarks by Bob Stone
December 7, 1998
America had been divided on December 6, 1941. America had been in the Great Depression for over a decade. Americans had lost confidence in themselves, and in their government. But December 7th marked the end of all that. On December 7th we became "One nation under God, indivisible."
After December 7th we regained our confidence in ourselves and in our government. Within a few weeks the Hit Parade of popular songs contained a ditty called, "They Started Something and We're Gonna End it, Right in Their Own Back Yard."
We did end it right in their own back yard, and we put the world back together, and we created NATO, and we kept a powerful standing military, and we kept the peace, and we preserved freedom in Western Europe and in East Asia.
And we believed in ourselves and in our government. By 1963, 76 percent of Americans trusted the federal government to do the right thing most of the time. But by 1993, it had fallen below 20 percent. This drop occurred among Democrats, Republicans, blacks, whites - just about every group you can imagine, including federal employees.
The good news is that this perception is changing. Americans use "performance" as the key to how they judge "trust." And performance is improving. And the trust figures have nearly doubled in the past 5 years, but they're still well under 40%.
We tend to blame the media for government's negative image. But we have to look at ourselves, too.
A colleague of mine often speaks to federal audiences, and asks them to turn to the person sitting next to them and tell them briefly what they do at work. She then asks the audience if they'd be willing to have their tax dollars spent for that activity. Only 5 percent of the audience raised their hands.
They were all shocked by the response. But this isn't unusual. Federal employees just don't see themselves the way they should.
This is why Vice President Gore created the Hammer Award. We don't recognize the heroes among us. The Vice President told me he wanted to do something positive for federal workers. He didn't like Sen. Proxmire's Golden Fleece Award. He thought it was important to find people and organizations that were doing the right thing and recognize them.
Too often, government was following the old maxim of the Office of Management and Budget: "Reward is the absence of punishment." Or what the DoD Inspector General once told me: "If you're doing something innovative, you're exceeding your authority."
Vice President Gore wants to reward innovation. He wants to build a better government and break down bureaucracy. He sees Hammer Award winners as real American heroes - sailing off into uncharted waters, not sure of their destination. He wants to tell your story. But we all have to help.
You have a terrific story. You are a team of people from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Military Departments, and Defense Agencies. Together you found a way to cut the cost of logistics operations by 16 per cent-that's $12 billion per year.
That's a big deal. Anybody know how much $12 billion is? It's the total revenues of Microsoft for a year. And you are saving America's taxpayers that much every year.
You did this by establishing clear customer-provider relationships, and introducing market mechanisms into this huge organization. Simple ideas like crediting customers for returning parts that could still be repaired. You made sure that America's operating forces continued to get the critical parts and supplies they needed during a period of radical downsizing. Together you found a way to change the way government works-maybe forever.
No $600 hammer in your story. No bureaucrats. No waste that you'd expect to see on ABC's Prime Time. In fact nothing the American public would see or hear about anywhere.
Unless you tell them.
That's what I'm challenging you to do today.
You now have been recognized and honored by the Vice President of the United States. You are now a member of an elite corps of Hammer Award reinventors who have made government work better, cost less, and get results Americans care about. This membership also brings responsibility. You already know about your responsibility to help others replicate what you did; and to continue to reinvent within your organization.
But there's another responsibility you have as part of this membership: to tell people what you did and what it means for America.
You'll see lots of people in the next few weeks. You'll go to holiday parties. And people will ask you what you do. Don't tell them, puhlease don't tell them, "Oh, I work for the government. Or I work for DoD."
Instead, try telling whoever asks, "I'm changing government forever. I work with real American heroes that are strengthening America's defense and saving the taxpayers $12 billion a year."
Don't be bashful or modest. If they don't hear it from you, don't expect them to hear it on ABC Nightline. But if you tell your story-and if all the other hammer winners tell their story-and if all the federal workers who are producing results Americans care about tell their story-
Well, pretty soon millions of Americans will have new powerful reasons to trust their government. And if you don't think it's up to you, ask yourself, "If not me, who? And if not now, when?
This leads me to one last thought on telling your story. It's often hard for adults to relate to their children or grandchildren about their work. The kids are often proud of their parents or grandparents, but aren't sure why.
Here's a chance to show them why. Show them your Hammer Awards. And go to their schools and show the Hammer to their class as part of "Show-and-Tell." Explain to the class what your command or your company have done to make the world they will inherit a safer place to live in. It is really important for them to understand that some real American heroes have names like "Dad" or "Grandma."
And when you are done with your show-and-tell, I bet they will applaud. And, far more than Al Gore, or anybody here, these children will make you feel like the heroes you really are.
Congratulations for building a government that works better, costs less, and gets results Americans care about. And thank you for the privilege of joining you today.
Vice President Gore's Hammer Awards