THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Houston, Texas) _________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 11, 1993
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE VICE PRESIDENT IN NATIONAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW DISCUSSION Texas Surplus Property Agency Houston, Texas
10:39 A.M. CDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. And Governor Richards, thank you so much for your kind words and for your leadership and for being here and helping us out so much. And thank you for what you've done in being so courageous, along with John Sharp, in fashioning this effort called the Texas Performance Review.
To Mayor Lanier, thank you for your kind words today and also for the outstanding job that you've done as Mayor, introducing business-like common sense to the management of this city and using the kinds of principles that President Clinton is introducing at the federal level with this National Performance Review.
I want to acknowledge with respect and thanks, Congressman Gene Green, appreciate your leadership and your help, Gene. Texas Land Commission Gary Morrow, a longtime friend to the President and to me, and appreciate everything that you are doing and the reinvention efforts in your part of the Texas state government. And maybe we'll have a chance to talk about some of that here as well today.
And I want to again single out John Sharp, who was a senior adviser to our performance review. It has been a pleasure to work with so many people from John Sharp's staff. We kind of took over a part of his team and asked him to come on up to Washington. And one of the deputy project directors who has done just an unbelievable job for us was a veteran of the Texas Performance Review. And he came up and in six months time I think he's learned more about how to cut waste out of the federal government than some of them that have been up there for years. And I want to acknowledge Billy Hamilton who is here. (Applause.) Where is he? Where are you, Billy? There he is right back there. (Applause.)
Also a couple of other folks who came up from Texas: Andrea Cowan (phonetic) and Chris Cook (phonetic), both from the Office of Comptroller. Can you two stand up? I appreciate your help. (Applause.) Thank you. We kind of call them the Texas mafia up there. (Laughter.) They came in and just really went to town and made a tremendous difference in our efforts.
I want to also thank those who have helped us put together this event. I want to thank Annette Lavoy (phonetic) of Governor Richards' staff, and Kate McKenna (phonetic), and Steven Zeke (phonetic) and Barbara Allen, all three of the Comptroller's staff. Appreciate their help. And Duane Osborne (phonetic) of the Comptroller's Office. He actually designed our NPR logo for the report that was released this past week.
So it's obvious why we are here today. The President is going to make three announcements today, continuing his implementation of the recommendations in the National Performance Review. As a matter of fact, after he speaks and after we have kind of a town hall meeting here where we ask the questions and learn from you instead of us doing all the talking, we want to hear from you and ask you about the ways you have reinvented government here in Texas and in Houston. After that, the President will formally sign these orders right here on the stage at the event here today.
But I want to say just a few words about what we found in the last six months. We found a government in Washington that wastes way too much money and gives poor quality service in return. More importantly -- those findings may not come as a great surprise -- we found ways to fix it. And we're asking the American people to help us persuade anyone who is resisting change to get out of the way and let us have a sweeping reform of the federal government and create a government that works better and costs less. (Applause.)
Right now, we have a government in Washington that writes 10-page regulations on how to make an ash tray or an ash receiver tobacco desk-type as they call it there. It takes -- it spends $4 for every $3 that it takes in. It hires 40,000 people to enforce a personnel code that weighs over 1,000 pounds. It takes 49 months to buy a computer -- four times as long as it takes in the private sector. By the time it gets there, it's not only out of date, it's two generations out of date; it costs twice as much as it should; it doesn't do the job. And the employees who need the right tools to serve the public well get incredibly frustrated and are not able to provide the quality service that they want to.
In other words, the federal government is not only broke, but broken. That's why the President asked me to lead this six-month National Performance Review -- to cut red tape, cut waste, treat the American people the way they deserve, treat them like customers, and have a government that becomes customerfriendly and customer-responsive and looks at every transaction as an opportunity to learn and improve and continuously improve. We want to eliminate duplication. We want to measure performance the way Ann Richards has led the way here in the state of Texas and made Texas a pioneer in performance-based budgeting, so that we don't measure just the inputs, we measure the results, and we set clear goals.
We were in Sunnyvale, California, yesterday, and we talked to some folks in that local government there. They have a police department that responds in six minutes to a call. And if it takes any longer than that, they turn the world upside-down trying to make sure that nothing like that happens again. And they set standards for service. They set results -- the way Houston does; the way Texas now does. And the employees then work toward those goals. They're not just putting their time in; they're not just taking up space; they're putting a lot of themselves into their work and trying to be responsive to the public; and they're held accountable for it, as they should be.
We need a federal government that works like that -- that works like Texas. You've done so much here -- you've reinvented government at the General Land Office by streamlining bureaucracy, creating public-private partnerships and innovative community development. Houston has reinvented government with targeted investments right in the neighborhoods that need it the most and has created this concept known as neighborhood-oriented government that I think is going to sweep this country.
The state of Texas, of course, as I've mentioned, has reinvented government with a host of methods that John Sharp was kind enough to share with us. In fact, the papers have reported that his effort was a model for us, and as he made clear this morning, it was.
Nobody is tougher when it comes to cutting waste than the state of Texas under these leaders that you have here, starting with Ann Richards. And nobody is tougher in reinventing government at the federal level than President Bill Clinton. And we are determined to succeed. We're going to downsize the federal government by 12 percent -- we're cutting the bureaucracy by 252,000 positions. We're getting rid of the old top-down, centralized bureaucratic, hierarchial, inefficient way of doing business, and instead become customer-oriented, empower employees with flexibility, encourage them to be innovative and creative, and then hold them strictly accountable for the results that the American people want.
People in Texas work hard. They play by the rules. They raise their families. They pay taxes. They do their jobs well. Now, it's time for us in Washington to do our job.
Mr. President, before I introduce you, I was going to do this earlier, but it hadn't arrived yet. And we decided -- you know, I go to sports banquets with my children the way you do with Chelsea; and you sit through those banquets and there's always a time when you -- you know, the all-league players come up and the captains are recognized and the rookie of the year is recognized and all of that. We got together, and we decided that in the National Performance Review, after working together for six months, we decided that it was appropriate for you and me to present the most valuable player award to Billy Hamilton. (Applause.) Come on up here, Billy. (Applause.)
MR. HAMILTON: I can prolong this since it's so nice and cool in here, and it's hotter outside. Thank you very much. This has been a tremendous opportunity for all of us in Texas. And this is sort of like the big leagues, because I think when we got there we found out that although Texas is huge, it's nothing like the federal government. (Laughter.) These two guys have got a tremendous job cut out for them. But my experience in this has shown me that they are more than up to the test if we just follow their leadership. So thank you very much. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, the person who has charted this course talked to me about reinventing government when we first got together and he asked me to join the ticket last year. We talked about it in the campaign and our book, "Putting People First." We highlighted this concept. Bill Clinton was a pioneer in these efforts at the state level when he was Governor of Arkansas. We said when we ran that if you'd give us a chance, we'd be different from our Republican predecessors and we'd be different from a lot of the approaches of the Democratic Party in the past also. We said we'd be new Democrats, that we'd try to create a government that works better and costs less. And thanks to this man, we're going to do that.
The President of the United States, Bill Clinton. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Mr. Vice President, Governor Richards, Mayor Lanier and my good friend Gary Morrow and all the rest of you who are here.
The first thing we decided to do was to reinvent common sense by coming to Houston and having a meeting in a building that wasn't air conditioned. (Laughter.)
When I heard John Sharp -- I want to brag on ol' John Sharp -- when I heard John Sharp saying that, you know, he had been involved in this program to promote humility in Texas and that we had ruined it by giving you so much credit, which is justly deserved for what we're trying to do, I began to wonder if it the cost benefit was worth it. (Laughter.) And then I realized that there are some things that even a President can't do in promoting humility among folks like John Sharp as one of them. (Laughter.)
Let me tell you, I am very proud to be here today and deeply grateful to John, to Billy, to all the people who played a role in this. And also profoundly grateful to the people that I have known over the years in state and local government who have done what folks wanted them to do. You can go all over America, you know, and take some surveys among people, and they'll tell you: I trust my mayor; I trust the governor; I trust them to solve this, that or the other problem in various places based on personal experiences.
As soon as Bob Lanier got in office, he told me what he's going to do with police officers. He did it and the crime rate went down. That's what people want to see happen. We talked the other day about a program he's got to promote more housing here, not just for people that can afford nice houses, but the low-income people who were working -- and he'll get that done. And when that happens, people feel good about it without regard to their incomes, to know that people who are trying to play by the rules have a decent place to go home to at night.
But this country has a big trust deficit in the national government. And that is a huge problem, because we're living in a time of profound change, and the American people absolutely cannot meet the challenges of the future unless the national government can take initiative, can be partners with the private sector and partners with state and local government and seize by the throat some of these things that have been bedeviling us for so long.
You heard the Mayor talk about how much money the City of Houston is going to save because we passed the deficit reduction program that's driven interest rates to their lowest level in 25 years. Millions of Americans have gone out and refinanced their homes at lower interest rates or at shorter mortgage terms, because the interest rates, because the deficit's going down.
We are going to be able to do all kinds of things we couldn't do otherwise. But all over the country, we found widespread cynicism when I was trying to pass that economic program that the federal government could do anything right; people didn't believe the deficit was going down, even though the interest rates are dropping like a rock, that I cannot believe the national government will spend my money to bring the deficit down and to really invest in long-term economic growth.
So what happens is, we're facing a time where we not only have a budget deficit and an investment deficit, but because of the performance deficit in the federal government, there is a huge trust deficit in the American people. And unless we can cure that, it's going to be very hard for us to face these other issues.
You know, I'll just say Texas is probably the only state in America right now where there's overwhelming public support for the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, which I strongly support. (Applause.) But let me just give you an example. One of the problems we've got -- that trade deal has two aspects that no other trade agreement's ever had. It's got a commitment on the part of both countries to dramatically increase their spending on environmental cleanup along the border, and it's got a commitment on the part of Mexico to raise their wages every time their economy goes up. Nobody has ever agreed to that in a trade agreement. And it's a blip on the screen. Why? Because a lot of people in this country whose jobs are at risk do not trust the national government to do anything right.
So what Al Gore is trying to do here affects that. We've got to fix health care system in this country. Do you know that we are spending 35 percent to 40 percent more on health care than any nation in the world, and yet we're the only advanced country that leaves tens of millions of people uninsured? Do you know that we're spending about a dime on the dollar more in administrative costs for health care, blind paperwork than any other major country? The only way it can fixed is if we take initiatives. But a lot of people say, oh, my God, can they be trusted to do anything right?
So what we have to do with this reinventing government thing is not only save you money and give you better service, but restore the trust of the American people that, together, through our elected officials, we can actually solve problems.
This is a big deal, and it goes way beyond just the dollars involved. I kind of backed into it when I was governor, because we just started, just every two years to see if we could do it, we'd eliminate some government agency or department and see if anybody squealed, and no one ever did. It was amazing. We didn't eliminate the department of education or anything; we took some -- a little some -- but it was just interesting, just sort of an acid test to see if that ever happened.
Then, we were working with all of our businesses in the tough years of the '80s on quality management and improving productivity, and I realized after a while I was hypocritical, providing the services to the private sector if I didn't try to do that in the public sector. And one day, we found out we could give people their licenses that they ordered by mail in three days instead of three weeks. And we found out that the people that are on the public payroll badly wanted to do it. But there was nothing wrong with them except poor systems and poor management and a lot of political decisions that no one had ever thought through.
So we are doing this not to fill the trust deficit, and we are trying to do three things. And that's why I want to get back to the Texas report and why we wanted to come here today to wrap up this tour. When John Sharp issued that report, I got a copy of it in a hurry, and I sat down and read it. And I was exhilarated when I read it, and that was before I was a candidate for President, before I ever knew I'd be here doing this today, because it put together all the things I had been feeling as a governor for a decade.
And so there is a way to save money, make people on the public payroll happier on the job, and improve the services you're giving to the taxpayers all at the same time. It can be done. And that's very important.
And I'm going to tell you one story -- I'm going to announce what I'm going to do and we're going to spend the rest of the time listening to you. The other day I went out to Alameda, California, near Oakland, where's there a big naval base that's about to be closed. It's a very traumatic time for them. California has 12 percent of the country's population, 21 percent of the military budget, taken a 40 percent almost of the cuts in the last round of the base closings. It's a very difficult time. And their unemployment rate is over 9.5 percent.
And I'm sitting there talking to -- I had lunch on the aircraft carrier Carl Vincent with one admiral and four naval enlisted personnel, wonderful people. And the guy sitting to my right had been in the Navy for 19 years, raises two children, had a wonderful life, told why he'd stayed in the Navy. And I started asking him about the government procurement process. And his eyes started dancing, you know, because we were there to cut a base and to short-circuit a lot of military careers that we had to do.
And this guy says to me: He said, let me tell you something. He said, if I had to go through the government procurement process to get a computer we were supposed to buy last week, I'd wait a year and a half or two years to spend $4,500 for a computer that has half the capacity that I could buy for $2,200 at the local computer discount store. And he said, you know something, Mr. President, I understand this defense downsizing. You have got to do it. But we've still got to have a defense. And it is wrong to ask people like me who are prepared to give our lives for our country to get out of the service if you're going to keep wasting money like that. Clean that up, then if we have to go, we'll go.
Now, that is the kind of thing that is out there that is confronting us every day. So, I say to you, we wound up our week on reinventing government in Texas because we owe you a debt of gratitude, and we are grateful to you. And we want you to know we're determined to do this.
Let me just say one other thing. People ask me all the time: Well, what's the difference in this report and all these other reports -- the government's just full of reports at the national level never got implemented? I'll tell you why, because there was never a system that the president was behind to push the thing through. If the Governor of Texas had been against John Sharp's report, could it have passed? I doubt it. Will there be opposition in Congress? Of course, there will be. But there will also be a lot of support, won't there? And if the people make their voices heard and we stay at it, we can do this.
Now, what I've tried to do is to determine what I can do by executive order or directive and what I have to have the Congress's help on. And I'm going to do everything I can possibly do by executive orders. So today, basically as a thankyou to Texas, I'm going to issue the first executive orders here, and I want to tell you what they are.
The first order directs the federal government to do what successful businesses already do: Set customer service standards and put the people that are paying the bills first. It tells the agencies to go to their customers, analyze their needs, evaluate how well the government meets the needs, and operate like a customer service center.
Now, the second order will respond to what you saw when we announced this report. Do you remember when the Vice President gave me the report, we had the two forklifts full of paper? Almost all those regulations were regulations of the government regulating itself. They were intergovernmental regulations on personnel and things like that -- costing you billions of dollars a year for things that happen just within the government.
Now, today, the executive order I'm signing on that will make the federal agencies cut those regulations on government employees in half within three years.
Now, remember, these regulations don't guard things like the safety of our food or the quality of the air we breathe, they regulate the federal government in their walking around time every day. We're going to cut them in half within three years, save a lot of money and a lot of folks. The government employees can then spend less time worrying about rules and more time worrying about results.
And, finally, I'm going to sign a directive today that tells everybody in my Cabinet that they have to take responsibility for making the personnel cut that I've outlined, and more than half of the personnel cut has to come from people who are basically in middle management, handing down rules and pushing up paperwork.
Today, the national government, on the average, has one supervisor for every seven employees. There are some government agencies that have one supervisor for every four employees. And the directive I'm signing today directs the federal government agencies under the control of the President of the United States to slash that ratio -- in effect, to cut in half the number of management for employees within the next couple of years. So we're going to go on average in the government from one manager to seven employees to one to fifteen. I think we can do better than that. That'll be a good start, and that alone when it is done will account for more than half of the 252,000 personnel reduction we seek to achieve.
As we do these things, I hope you folks in Texas will take a lot of pride in the contribution you made. And I hope you will see that it will make it possible for us, then, to gain the confidence of the American people so that we can restore the economy, fix the health care system, expand trade, give opportunities to our people, and make people believe this country works again.
If we can do it, you can take a lot of credit for it. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Ladies and gentlemen, we would now like to hear from you. And we call this approach a reverse town hall meeting because we want to ask questions about how you have done it here in Texas in the Texas Performance Review, other parts of the state government, the land office and the city of Houston.
Let me ask a couple of questions here first. How many people here are from, or worked on, the Texas Performance Review? Could you raise your hands? All right. Very good. How many many people here work in the land office? Raise your hands. How many people here work for other parts of state government? Could I see your hands? How many people here work for the city of Houston? Can I see your hands?
Okay. All of you -- there you go, Mayor.
THE PRESIDENT: Good for you, Mayor. (Laughter.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It took you about a second there. Who would like to lead off with a personal story of how your work, as a public employee, changed after new ideas were introduced here, and let's start with the concept of customer service. How did you -- who has a good example of responding to the people?
Yes, ma'am. Can we have microphones? There you go. Q The Mayor has already talked a little about our
program. I have to say, I'm not going to get a modesty award, because when you were talking about the response time of six minutes of the Houston Police Department on our Code One response time has gotten at or below five minutes since Mayor Lanier has been in office. (Applause.)
I'm sorry, Mr. Sharp, I'm a native Houstonian, so I don't have any -- one thing that the citizens of the city of Houston strongly voiced in 1991 was a response to the crime problem in the city. And a lot of little programs and things here and there, but no real goal, no real mission, no real emphasis. Resources, goals, and objectives -- were obtained. Mayor Lanier came, he brought a new police chief aboard. Our chief drilled it in our minds that we were going to be held accountable. We identified the problem. We told them where it is, what is the problem.
The Mayor asked, what resources do you need to address that problem. And it was our responsibility to take those resources and translate them into goals, objectives and fundamentally respond to the citizens.
Our directive change from just random patrols to directed patrols. We had a parole leave problem the Governor is well aware of. The city of Houston had over 19,000 parolees under active supervision just in our city of those 7,500 were violating the terms of their parole. We instituted a parole program, and the city of Houston, since we began that in late 1991 we've arrested 7,483 parolees and sent them back to the penitentiary here in Houston. (Applause.)
We've reduced the crime rate 21 percent from June of 1993 over 1991 crime figures. So we've had some positive results.
But the main thing is that the resources were given to us. He said, what do you need, 655 police officers? You've got it. Well, naturally you can't just jerk 655 people off the street, give them a blue uniform and go to it. He took our program, he said we're going to direct it to veteran police officers, to investigators. Our clearance rates increased dramatically, our crime rate dropped. And that's the kind of common-sense government that we needed.
Overtime? Yes, overtime sounds expensive on the surface, but when you look at training, when you look at expenses for benefits, increased personnel, and you have to give them a standard shift instead of directing them where's the hot spots -- the hot spot's here, this is where we go to, this is where we direct our efforts, and this is the response we get. And that's what we were able to achieve. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Let me say, this is one message I hope goes out across the country today. Millions of Americans have given up on the ability of their law enforcement resources to get the crime rate down. You can walk lots of streets in lots of places. People don't think it'll ever happen. You can reduce crime if you have the resources and if you direct them properly.
And you heard the Mayor say, I'm trying to pass our crime bill which goes -- within the crime bill alone, goes halfway toward the 100,000 more police officers on the street goal that I have set. But they also -- the resources have to be properly deployed in every community in this country. When you do it, you can bring crime down. It is simply not true you can't do it. But you have to target the resources and have them. And I applaud you and I thank you for that.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: If I could ask one more question before you sit down, the first step in the process was the Mayor asking the employees in the police department to figure out what was wrong. Correct?
Q Yes, sir. He told us, he said, where are your problem areas. We sat down with our crime analysis unit and we identified it, we directed the resources, and our chief gave us the mandate, and our officers, our line officers took it and they ran with it. They said, okay, now we have the resources. It's not going to happen on my district, in my beat, or on my shift.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, see, that's the approach that we took, because we heard that from Texas, we heard that from the corporations that have gone through this process. Sometimes they bring in these outside consultants. And, of course, the consultants walk around, talk to the employees and listen to what they have to say, and then they get paid for telling the boss.
Well, we went and these previous 500 studies of the federal government, none of them did what we did. We went straight to the federal employees and asked them for the ideas, just as Mayor Lanier did here.
Now, one other question. On this five-minute deal, the five-minute response time, do you -- is that a highly visible goal for the people on patrol? And how do -- let's say that it looks like -- I mean, do you analyze what's going wrong before -- that keeps you from making that goal? How important is the goal itself to driving the reorganization of the way you do things?
Q If you don't have the goal, if you don't have the specific, detailed mission, you can't achieve anything, you're randomly pursuing a nebulous. But we had a goal, it wasn't just to get response times down, it was to solve the crime problem. And to do that, we looked at, where is the crime occurring, what time of night is it occurring, or what time of day, and we directed our resources to these nonstandard positions or these nonstandard areas, and we brought it down. And it's amazing, the citizens are going to call and you're going to be close because you've got those extra units there to respond.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: One of the three orders the President is going to sign at the close of this session kicks off the process right here in Houston whereby the employees in every federal department are going to identify the most sensible goals and set the goals for the same kind of service for the public in the federal government. Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Give her a hand. That was great.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, that was great. (Applause.)
This woman in the front here. Yes, ma'am. (Laughter.)
Q I really wanted to take an opportunity to follow up on what she said. Because what Mayor Lanier has done here has been truly remarkable. But one of the things that he did was that he communicated with state government. He didn't just act on the local level. So the state and the city worked together.
There was a practice in state government for us to release people from prison on an expedited basis, most of whom came to the city of Houston, and it was done to relieve prison crowding. So the goal was to get rid of the prison crowding, to goal was not to make the Houston streets safer. So we just said we're not going to let them out anymore, we're going to keep them in the penitentiary. (Applause.)
I don't say that to get applause, I say that for you to understand that to bring down the crime rate you have got to work together in conjunction with each other to make that happen. Now, the results of that was that it cost us a lot more money. We have to pay the counties a lot of money, including Harris County, to keep prisoners that ought to be -- that ought to be in the penitentiary that we don't have room for, even though we're building them as fast as we can. They back up in the county jails, and we have to pay for them.
But because of the performance reviews, we were able to save enough money in Texas that we have hired more prison guards to take care of more prisoners who are staying there longer, and to pay the counties for the prisoners that they have to keep, without raising taxes, Mr. President, in the last session of the legislature. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: I'll bet, too -- you must have done this -- but I'll bet you that you have -- if you calculate how much money the people save by reducing the crime rate 20 percent in Houston, I'll be it's a heck of a lot more than it costs you to hold the people.
Q On just purely a cost basis, it cost us roughly $1,000 per major crime reduced here in the city. To put that in context, car theft cost $4,000 or $5,000; of course, murder and rape are just infinite, but $1,000 per major crime reduced is pretty much a bargain, I think, for the taxpayers.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Could we hear from some of the employees of the Texas Performance Review? What lessons did you learn in going through your performance review work here in Texas that surprised you the most, and what do you think is the most important way to identify waste and inefficiency and cut it out? Anybody want to -- there's one, there's a volunteer back there.
Q Mr. Vice President and Mr. President, I worked on the first performance review. I think a lot of what I've heard today I just kind of wanted to summarize and give you an example of two of the things that we learned in the process.
We started out as a team of, I guess, 25 folks barred from a lot of different agencies. What we decided we had to do was to figure out what our goal was as we've talked about today.
Now, clients in Health and Human Services have always been at the top of the list in terms of getting attention, but what we had to do was turn the thinking around and say how can we make services most accessible to those clients. Instead of making them go to five different places to get services, how can we devise, using modern technology, things that allow them to come -- call it one-stop connection kind of situation and make access to the system. So we developed that as a goal of our review. And as we worked through the process, I remember talking to the team members saying we had better be careful about what we ask for, because we may just get it this time, because folks like Governor Richards and Comptroller Sharp were behind us, and they supported us all the way.
Now, we did make some recommendations about reorganization and how to provide services in a better way. The reorganization really didn't go the way we recommended it. But what happened was, there was a small agency created to try to keep the momentum in place, try to keep the excitement going about how to deal with clients differently.
A couple of things we've done as part of our commission, we have set up work groups involving all 14 of the major Health and Human Service agencies, simply using the frontline workers, so to speak, in terms of thinking through support service problems. That sounds kind of bureaucratic and kind of boring, but we've already found several hundred thousand dollars of savings simply in warehousing, simply in trucking, simply in cost accounting, things like that. I think more on the point, in terms of the clients, we've been able to develop three pilot projects, one in Dallas, one in Lubbock and one in Schliecker (ph.) County, which is Eldorado is the city there. And we've developed computer software which allows folks to come in and be assessed on anywhere from 10 to 30 different kinds of Health and Human Service programs, instead of having to move all around the city and decide and learn what services they're eligible for.
So we're still -- we have a lot of work to do, but I think we're making progress. And one of the things we learned was to get with the local folks, with the private providers, with the nonprofit public providers and put those packages together in the pilot sites to figure out how to do this in a better way and maybe expand it later on in the state.
THE PRESIDENT: I'd like to ask you a question; really, two questions. First of all, I'd like to ask you, my belief is that this is one of the biggest problems in government -- trying to reform the delivery of human services all over the country. And while the services are largely delivered at the state level or by private providers, a lot of the money comes from the federal level.
So I would like to ask you two questions: Number one is, what do you think the biggest obstacles to doing what you want to do are? And, number two, how much of a problem has the federal government been through its rules and regulations?
Q There's probably other folks who could answer that better, Mr. President, but I think for Texas, let me give you an example. For our two-year spending budget right now in Health and Human Services, $13 billion out of $23 billion is federal money. We obviously have to keep on top of how we report to the federal government and how we use that money. I think there are probably some -- I noticed in the summary of your report, Mr. Vice President, that there's talk about empowering the employees to make some decisions. There are some real boring kinds of things that we have to get into in terms of cost accounting, in terms of how we account for the funds. And when we talk about one-stop connection, we're talking about collapsing funding sources, a lot of funding sources.
If you can give us a little trust, a little flexibility on how we account for those dollars, we'll account for them but we may not be able to get down to each sticky pad in terms of which funding source it came from. We'll account for the money, we'll be able to provide the services, and I think we have some work going on in Texas which can provide you some examples of that.
So I guess in summary it would be, trust us and keep on keeping on, and I appreciate it. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Let me respond to that. The President talked earlier about the trust deficit in the country, where the American people don't trust the federal government to do much of anything very well.
Trust also plays a key role in coming up with a solution to this problem. Because we currently have no way to measure the results of the money that's spent and the programs that we have, we concentrate obsessively on measuring the inputs. The reason you have to put up with all of that paperwork and account in minute detail for every penny of each separate funding source is because that's the only thing that's measured.
If we could measure the results of what you do with that money, then there would be an ability to give you more flexibility in how you get the results.
So what the President has recommended and what we are going to fight for in this National Performance Review is something called a bottom-up grant consolidation program, so that grants under $10 million can be automatically combined at the local level and at the state level, and larger grants can also be combined with a written plan specifying how the goals of the separate funding streams are going to be met, but then giving flexibility to the people who are actually delivering the services to combine all the separate funding streams, and use the money very effectively and efficiently without the red tape and bureaucracy, and then at the end of the year, we evaluate the results. And if the results are not coming in some area, then we readjust and reevaluate and do it differently. But we don't burden you with all of the red tape and bureaucracy on the front and. And we need your help in passing this particular thing, because this is one that will require legislation.
But if we can pass this, it will enable the city of Houston and the state of Texas to enter into the kind of partnership with the federal government in delivering quality services to the people that you know how to deliver if you can have the flexibility to do it well. So work with us and we'll get you that flexibility.
Q I work for Harris County, and we prosecute polluters. And we've done something here, following the people that the Mayor has help us put in jail, and we fight with the Governor about who pays for the people who go to jail, but we put some polluters in jail, and the citizens came to us and said it's one thing to shut down the dumps and take their property, but what are you going to do to clean things up?
And we have worked in a successful program that I think will work for you in the United States, and that is that we've taken prisoners out of our county jail -- we have the largest jail in the United States of America, and we've taken them out of the jail and put them into the wetlands and into the dumps and gotten them to work, separating trash that would otherwise be filling up precious sites that are already licensed, so that much of that material can be recycled into soil.
Now, it's taken an enormous fight in bureaucracy, because everybody talks about and blames the federal courts and everything else, but it takes work -- we work together with the Sheriff's Department, with the city of Houston, with the health department, with the pollution control department, with the natural resources agency of the state, but we're getting men, with sweat equity, to really rebuild ecological equity for the future. And we're making a dump here in East Harris County, which I want you guys to come take a look at sometime, to be our first contribution to the Wetlands Bank of the United States, working with the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
You've got people coming out of your ears in the federal system in the prisons, and I suggest that you can make a corrections conservation corps, just like FDR did with the CCC in the '30s. (Applause.) It's not busting rocks, and it's not making them pick up trash on the Southwest Freeway, it's dignified work. We've really had men come back with their families and show them that they did something, that they created an ecological asset. And we're not going to have development here unless we can create ecological assets in our wetlands mitigation banking program, and it needs your help.
THE PRESIDENT: Let me say before you sit down, first of all, we didn't really know who was going to stand up and what they were going to say, but I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you just said.
The United States -- I agree, by the way, with what Governor Richards and the Mayor said. You've got to keep more people in prison that you know have a high propensity to commit crimes.
The flip side of that is that we now rank first in the world in the percentage of our people behind bars. And we know who people behind bars normally are, right? They're normally young, they're normally male, they're normally undereducated. More than half of them have an alcohol or drug abuse problem. And they're wildly unconnected basically to the institutions that hold us together and conform our behavior -- whether it's church or family or work or education. And it's the most colossal waste of human potential -- that in the federal and the state systems, most prisoners -- not all. There are some that do really useful work and get training. But a phenomenal number of prisoners either do useless work that they can't make a living at when they get out and don't feel good about and don't learn anything from, or don't do anything at all. And it's -- if you're looking for something the taxpayers are already paying for, we're already out that money. And you have just said something of enormous importance and I thank you, sir.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: It works.
Thank you. This gentlemen right here.
Q Mr. President, Mr. Vice President I'm with the comptroller's office. One of the things that we've been doing that was one of the recommendations of the first Texas performance review was electronic benefits transfer where we take people who get food stamps and AFDC and deliver that benefit more efficiently using commercial infrastructure so that we can deliver it with a plastic mag-stripe card and a secret code. We have had to work with the federal government, who sometimes didn't work with each other; the Food Nutrition Service; the Administration For Children and Families.
And each one of those agencies -- we had to go individually to those agencies to try to work out what we want to do. We're going to have a pilot here in Houston, Texas where we deliver those benefits. And that is a joint federal-state program together that we are going to deliver to the people who are stake-holders. Not only does it save the state and federal government money, it saves the bankers money. Nations Bank told us that they would save $500,000 a year. The retailers save money because they no longer have to get -- they can get their money directly -- direct-deposited in their accounts. And the customers -- we actually had hearings all across Texas where the people who get AFDC and food stamps like that kind of program. And it's one of those recommendations that I think saves money and provides government service -- eliminates a lot of the fraud, because a lot of the police -- when you have these raids, you find food stamps. You would never have to pay for food stamps in that situation again, because they could only be used for food. And it's one of those innovative types of programs that -- it's one of the recommendations of the National Performance Review, and we think it will make a big difference.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And let me comment on that. We looked at the pilot programs. Here -- I went to St. Paul, Minnesota, for example. We looked at it there. We looked at it in other parts of the country. And we are recommending in the National Performance Review that we go to this system of electronic benefits transfer nationwide, because it cuts fraud in the programs that are affected by it by 20 percent in most of the pilot programs. It eliminates unnecessary paperwork. It is a tremendous benefit to the business people, where they're not counting out all these food stamps -- people waiting at the counter and they're counting them out, one right after the other. And the people -- you know, some people don't even like to talk about food stamps, because they're so controversial. But when the business owner and the person who is in need of food stamps are both on the same side of the argument saying we can do a heck of a lot better job and cut down on the fraud, save the government money, and make this whole program operate more efficiently, then you know that you're onto something. And I want to thank you for raising this subject, because it's mistakenly controversial with some people. We're going to do it nationwide. (Applause.)
Q Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, I work for the Texas General Land Office. As you know, the Land Office has responsibility for the management of about twenty and a half million acres of land here in the state of Texas. On that land are about 18,000 producing oil and gas wells. Our job is to bring revenue in for the schoolchildren of Texas.
In 1986 when oil prices crashed, my boss, who is -- who runs for office, did not look like nearly as good a land commissioner as he did when oil prices were much higher. So he decided to get real creative at that point. We looked at the fact that we needed to increase the markets for the product that we had to sell -- that we as the government -- that the people of Texas had revenued to produce.
And we also looked at the fact that simultaneously in this country we were dealing with air pollution problems that were a major problem for most of the urban areas. We took the opportunity to look at those two problems, not as problems, but as opportunities and for a way to bring those two things together in a way that made sense. And in a classic example of the catalytic function of government that reinventing government talks about, we created an entity called Clean Air Texas. Clean Air Texas was an unprecedented coalition of energy providers, environmental groups, health providers, consumer advocates, that came together to push a program in this state to increase the use of clean burning natural gas for economic and environmental purposes. That program resulted in legislation in 1989 that has become what the New York Times called a stunning innovation and has been used as a model for other programs throughout the country.
The program has resulted in very specific benefits. And here in Houston, for example, the Houston metro system is now operating primarily on liquified natural gas. A company here by the name of Liquid Carbonic has just put in a $20 million facility in Houston to deal with the production of liquified natural gas. That plant now hires 16 full time employees in Willis, Texas, which is a town of 2,700. Those are very specific kinds of benefits that have come from the program of not sitting back and waiting for royalties to come into the state, but taking an aggressive posture and looking for opportunities to use state resources.
And, Mr. President, of course, you're very much aware that you have given us that same charge with the federal fleet conversion task force. I'm please to say that we have a report which you will be receiving very shortly that recommends doing very similar things to use the federal fleet as a catalyst to increase the use of domestic fuels in the transportation sector in this country, which will then reduce our dependence on foreign oil, help our balanced trade, and solve economic and environmental problems. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We're running out of time and we're only going to be able to take a couple more.
You all also went to a one-stop permitting arrangement, too, didn't you, in the Land Office? We've heard about that. It's been a big success.
Q Good afternoon. We've heard from our elected representatives and some of the workers from state and local government. And I have to say, I think it would be at least a little bit remiss if we don't hear from the common people or the lay persons -- or at least a representative of them.
My name is Carol Smith, and I'm the executive director of the NAACP here locally. And I'm delighted that you're here, but I'm even more relieved that you have taken on the challenge of this initiative such that we can cut out so much of this bureaucratic maze that our people have to go through just to get public assistance or Social Security benefits to which they are entitled.
At the NAACP, we've had to develop special programs, including advocacy and educational forums just to help people get through the bureaucratic maze. And we're hoping that this initiative will mean that this will no longer be necessary.
One of the other examples -- we were pleased to have our great governor, Ann Richards, here with us this week. I served as chairperson of the neighborhood governing board of Third Ward. And here in Houston the Third Ward is very serious about designing a system that is responsive to the people and not simply designing a system and then telling the people shape your needs around the system. And we have attracted a $3 million grant funded by the Casey Initiative. And one of the very important requirements of this grant is that we have to have a cooperative arrangement between the neighborhood, the city, the county, the state, and the federal government, which is why our Governor was here to accept that award with us.
Another important aspect is that there has to be accountability -- not only in how well we count the money, but in how responsive we've been to the people -- how successful we have actually been in responding to the needs of the people and designing a very effective system that expeditiously serves the people. And the Governor let us know in no uncertain terms that she'd be back here in a year, and she expected results, she expected success. She did not put her name on the line or the state of Texas on the line for it to be a flop. We accepted that challenge and we will be delighted to have her come back. And we invite you to look at this model program. There are only two in this country. And the Casey Initiative is so pleased -- the Casey Foundation is so pleased with this project that they are also thinking about funding a redevelopment project at the same time that we're having this mental services project here in Houston, and hopefully we can use it as a national model. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)
Let me just say one thing to you. Because I try to follow the work of the Casey Foundation, I'm a little familiar with what you're doing. One of the most frustrating things to me as a public official is that I have been a Governor, now President, having oversight of programs that people are supposed to fit their needs to. It is absurd. You've got a lot of poor people in this country who are absolutely dying to get out and get some job training, go to work, get off welfare, you name it. If they've got troubled kids or three or four different problems, they're liable to have three to four different programs, three or four different caseworkers. I mean, you feel sometimes like you're a laboratory animal almost if you get help from the federal government because you've got so many different people that are on your case. It is absurd.
Now, you should have, if you're in trouble, somebody to help you. But there ought to be one person to help you. You shouldn't be up there dissecting people the way these programs do. It is awful. And I really hope you make it and get it done. Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Final comment. We'll take two more, but make it quick. We had called on him and the President has called on her. Do it real quickly.
Q I'm the city's first victim's rights director for victims of crime. And for that I'd like to acknowledge Mayor Lanier for having the foresight to recognize the needs of crime victims within a community. This is the first type of program that was initiated in the state of Texas -- and perhaps the entire country -- where crime victims have been given an avenue where I can serve as a response for them.
And you talk about streamlining government, I run the entire division by myself and I'm able to do it in perhaps maybe a 40- to 50-hour week. So there is a way that you can respond to the people.
And one of the things that I've noticed in this position that's really kind of struck remarkable in my opinion is when I simply return a phone call to someone -- usually on the same day -- people are awestruck that somebody in a government position actually responded and returned their call. And it's been absolutely amazing for me just to be able to deal with such type of avenue.
And one thing, President Clinton, I really applaud your initiative with the boot camp philosophy because if we don't get to the useful first time offenders very, very shortly, we have to get to them before they even get to the adult system. And for that I applaud your efforts. Thank you. (Applause.)
Q Thank you, Mr. President, for -- Mr. President and Vice President, I am a part time worker and a full student at our Houston -- local Houston community college, East Side Campus, and my main question was education funding. I know that Texas had a real hard time and that -- trying to find a formula or type of funding for our schools to be open this year. I have two younger brothers that are still in HISD in public schools, and I was very concerned whether or not the schools will be open. And I was wondering if maybe in the next session if there will possibly be a change in the Chapter 1 funding -- whether the formula will be changed because of the fact that we will use 1990 Census to determine how much funding or how much money that we're getting knowing that our schools keep growing and growing. And right now, my area -- I'm from the southeast side of town. And we're trying to build a third high school due to the fact that I'm from Milby (phonetic) Senior High School. I graduated in '92. We are a very packed high school, and we're trying to build another school -- and I believe it is being built in the same area -- to get some of the students away from that school due to the fact that there are so many problems at that school because there are so many students. And we need to divide students away. And I wanted to know -- I mean, the schools almost weren't open this year. And it was very questionable, because education is very important for our future and the students are what's important in the future, not -- I mean, I'm not saying not everyone's important, but the students for the future -- of this country is very important. And I wanted to know if maybe -- if the funding was going to be changed -- if the formula was going to be changed to do something about that Texas is possibly getting enough money that is needed for our schools. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: The President asked me to answer this, but really he's the expert on it. And he and the Secretary of Education, Dick Riley, made a point when we started our National Performance Review, that in reinventing education programs, we had to look at the way this one works. And instead of spreading it so thinly across all school districts, including those that are well off and are -- weren't really intended to be the recipients of this particular program in the first place, it needs to be concentrated in the areas where it will do the most good and where it will meet the needs it was intended to meet.
We're also in the Performance Review recommending the consolidation of a whole series of education grant programs, because governors like former Governor Clinton, Governor Richards, former Governor Riley and others have told the federal government for years that if you have to have all this paperwork to apply for all these separate little grants, it gets to where it's not even worth it. If, however, they are consolidated with the flexibility given to the recipients of the funding, and if it is used in the places where it will do the most good, then we will start to get some results which we can measure and which we will measure. So thank you for highlighting that.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to ask the --
THE PRESIDENT: Let me just say one other thing. I asked a couple of questions -- he's told you, right? We're going to try to change the funding of Chapter 1 and if what you're saying is right, that you have an enormously high percentage of eligible people -- your district and your school would benefit. But the problem is that this is -- that's one of those things we have to pass through Congress. And when the dollars follow the child -- that is, if a rich district that has poor kids -- when that happens, then every Congressman gets a little of the money.
So I asked a couple of you what the biggest obstacle to implementing your changes are. We need your support when we come up here and we present these legislative packages -- and we're trying to figure out now how -- we want as few bills as we can in Congress. We really need your support to ask the members of Congress to do this in the national interest -- to make some of these changes so that we can do this. I need your help to do that. People in Washington need to think the American people want this. They don't need to think it's Bill Clinton and Al Gore's deal; they need to think it's your deal. And if they think it's your deal, then we can pass it. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Come ahead and bring this up.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you'll bear with us just for a moment, the President is going to sign the orders that we talked about earlier. And --I think they're going to rearrange the stage just a little bit here.
Yes, I had all my props here and we didn't get to them today. We've got ash receivers, tobacco desk-type and steam traps and aspirin that's -- designed bug spray especially made for the federal government.
Q I thought we ought to mention why we are here in this hot building. No one has said that in the performance review that John Sharp did for the state of Texas -- we found that we had duplication involving surplus property, so we combined agencies, we found we had duplication at 15 agencies in environmental regulations, so we combined all of them. We had -- what was it, John? There was another agency where we had two agencies doing the same thing. Well, anyway, it doesn't matter. We put together -- altogether a savings of $10 million just by combining it. So what you're seeing here is a surplus property division that is now under another agency, and we saved money by doing it. That's why we're here in this hot building.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are the three executive orders the President is going to sign now.
The first order the President just signed is the one setting customer service standards just as the Houston Police Department set a standard for a five-minute response on a Code 1 response, this sets customer service standards throughout the federal government, sets in motion the process by which they will emerge in each and every department.
The second one the President has just signed is the elimination of one-half of the executive branch regulations that lead to so much paperwork and red tape and bureaucracy of the kind we heard about costing more money to the people who are delivering the services.
And then the third one is streamlining the bureaucracy by cutting in half the number of managers per employee and setting in motion the process by which we downsize the federal government 12 percent. And he's done it right here in Houston. (Applause.)
END11:49 A.M. CDT