THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
For Immediate Release September 7, 1993
Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed
has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you
have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.
Henry David Thoreau
Unlike many past efforts to change the government, the
National Performance Review will not end with the publication of
a report. We have identified what we must do to make government
work better and cost less: We must serve our customers, cut red
tape, empower employees to get results, and cut back to basics.
Now, we will take action.
The task is immense. The federal government has 2.1 million
civilian employees, 800,000 postal workers, 1.8 million military
personnel, and a $1.5 trillion budget--more than the entire gross
domestic product of Germany, the world's third largest economy.
The National Performance Review has identified the problems
and defined solutions. The President will issue directives,
cabinet secretaries will change administrative practices, and
Office of Management and Budget will issue guidance. We will work
with Congress for legislation where it's needed. Senseless
regulations will be repealed; mechanisms to enhance customer
service will be created; change will begin.
But we do not pretend to have solved every problem. We will
transform the federal government only if our actions--and the
Reinvention Teams and Labs now in place in every
department--succeed in planting a seed. That seed will sprout
only if we create a process of ongoing change that branches
outward from the work we have already done.
This performance review will not produce another report just to
gather dust in some warehouse. We have enough of them already.
President Bill Clinton
Remarks announcing the National Performance Review, March 3, 1993
How we proceed will be as important as what we have done to
date. We must avoid the pull of implementation models that are
familiar and comfortable but poorly suited to today's world. We
must avoid creating new bureaucracies to reform the old. We must
actively involve government leaders at all levels. We must seek
the guidance of those who have successfully transformed large
organizations in both the private and public sectors.
The nature of our strategies will no doubt cause discomfort.
They will be unfamiliar. They will not look like business as
usual. They will challenge the current federal culture. And they
will demand risk-taking.
If we are to bring about true change, however, some
discomfort is inevitable. Our strategies are not untested; they
have been used successfully by both public and private
organizations throughout the country.
What we're trying to do is to create a large number of changes,
simultaneously, in the federal government. Because if you just
change one thing without changing some of the other things that
need to be changed, we won't get anywhere. We can bring the
quality revolution, for example, into the federal workforce as
well as it could possibly be done, and if we didn't fix some of
the other problems, it wouldn't amount to much. We could fix the
personnel system, but if we didn't fix the budgetary system and
procurement system, then we would still be mired in a lot of the
difficulties that we encounter today. We are trying to do a lot
of things at the same time.
Vice President Al Gore
Town Hall Meeting,
Department of Veterans Affairs
August 4, 1993
To succeed where others have failed, the President and Vice
President have committed to specific initiatives that will create
a culture capable of sustaining fundamental change. This shift in
culture will not occur overnight. To bring it about, we will
ownership at the highest levels of the executive branch;
facilitate plans for reinvention.
The administration has already taken a number of steps to
bring about the changes we are recommending.
First, we have launched Reinvention Teams and Reinvention
Labs in every department to continue seeking ways to improve the
government and put these ideas in practice.
Second, we have begun to work--and will continue to expand
relationships--with leaders and representatives of federal
employees from throughout the government. Indeed, the National
Performance Review is the first government-wide change initiative
to be run and staffed by federal employees. Our actions will make
employees' jobs better, and their participation will make our
Third, the President and Vice President have begun to work
with the cabinet to develop performance agreements that will
institutionalize a commitment to and establish accountability for
Fourth, we have developed a mechanism to spread our basic
principles throughout the government. The President will meet
with the cabinet to develop strategies reflecting these
principles and ideas, committing all involved to take
responsibility for changing the way we do business. Cabinet
members will then go through the same process with their senior
managers, who will go through it with their senior managers, and
Fifth, the President is establishing a management council
to monitor change and provide guidance and resources to those
working to bring it about. The President's Management Council
will be charged with responsibility for changing the culture and
management of the federal government.
Sixth, the Federal Quality Institute will help agencies with
access to information, education, research, and consultation on
quality management. Like our other initiatives, this models a
basic tenet of the behavior we recommend--encouraging managers to
define their own missions and tasks, but providing the support
they need to do a good job.
Seventh, we will launch future reviews of the federal
government, targeted at specific problems. The National
Performance Review was a learning experience; we learned what we
could do in six months, and what we still need to do. We focused
heavily on the basic systems that drive federal agencies: the
budget, personnel, procurement, financial management,
accountability, and management systems. In subsequent reviews, we
will narrow our focus. For example, we plan a review of the
antiquated federal field office structure, which dates from the
1930s and contains some 30,000 field offices. (See Chapter 4.)
Other targets might include the abandonment of obsolete programs;
the elimination of unproductive subsidies; the redesign of failed
programs; the redefinition of relationships between the federal
government and state and local governments; and the
reinvigoration of relationships between the executive and
Finally, the National Performance Review will continue to
rely on its greatest asset: the federal employees who made it
happen. They have all worked hard for change, and many will
continue to work on reinvention in their own agencies. They
constitute a network that will reach out to other employees,
sharing their enthusiasm, energy, and ideas.
Our task is not to fix the blame for the past, but to fix the
course for the future.
President John F. Kennedy
During this process, a vision of change will emerge beyond
that which is contained in this report. Leadership and management
values will, over time, change--not in response to a mandate, but
because people are working together to change their government.
If we have done our job well, the next generation of changes will
be built on the foundation we have laid with this report. We are
merely initial planners; the President, the Vice President, the
cabinet, federal managers and employees will be the architects
Despite all the horror stories and years of scorn heaped on
federal employees, our government is staffed by people committed
to their jobs, qualified to do them better, and hungry for the
opportunity to try. The environment and culture of government
have discouraged many of these people; the system has undermined
itself. But we can--and will--change that environment and
Over time, it will become increasingly obvious that people
are not the problem. As old ways of thinking and acting are
replaced by a culture that promotes reinvention and quality, a
new face of government will appear--the face of employees newly
empowered and newly motivated, and of customers newly satisfied.
What Reinventing Government Means for You
We have talked enough of what we will do and how we will
change. The more important question is how life will change for
you, the American people.
If we succeed--if the administration can implement our
recommended actions and Congress can pass our legislative
package--you will begin to see a different government. Your mail
will be delivered more rapidly. When you call a Social Security
office, you'll get through. When you call the Internal Revenue
Service, you'll get accurate answers-- and if you don't, you will
no longer be penalized.
If you lose your job, a local career center will help you
find a new one. If you want retraining, or you want to go back to
school, you'll find counselors who can help you sort out your
options, pick the best program, and pay for it. If you run a
small business, you will have fewer forms to fill out.
Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood, and
probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim
high in hope and work, remembering that a noble logical diagram,
once recorded, will never die, but long after we are gone will be
a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.
Daniel Burnham 1907
If you live in public housing, your apartment complex might
get cleaner and safer. Perhaps you'll even be able to move your
family to a safer, quieter, more stable neighborhood.
Our workplaces will get safer because they are inspected
more often. Our water will get cleaner. Your local government
will work better because it is no longer hamstrung by silly
And perhaps the federal debt--that $4 trillion albatross
around the necks of our children and grandchildren--will slow its
rampage. Our federal agencies will begin to figure out, bit by
bit by bit, how to cut spending, eliminate the obsolete, and
provide better service for less money.
You will begin to feel, when you walk into a post office or
social security office or employment service or veterans'
hospital, like a valued customer. We will begin to spend more
money on things you want and need--health care, training,
education, environmental protection--and less on bureaucracy. One
day you will be able to conclude that you are getting a dollar of
value for every dollar of taxes you pay.
This is our vision of a government that works better and
costs less. We know it will not come to be overnight, but we
believe it is a vision we can bring to life. We believe this
because we have already seen this vision come to life--in local
governments, in state agencies, even in a few federal agencies.
We believe it is the right vision for government as we approach
the 21st century.
It will take more than a dedicated President and Vice
President to make this vision a reality, however. It will take
more than dedicated employees. It will take dedicated citizens,
willing to work long and hard to improve their government.
It will take citizens willing to push their social security
offices and unemployment offices to treat them like
customers--and to demand that their voices be heard when they
don't get satisfaction. It will take citizens willing to demand
information about the performance of their federal organizations.
And it will take citizens willing to act on the basis of that
As our President has said so often, the future is ours--if
we have the courage to create it.