THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE VICE PRESIDENT DURING REINVENTING GOVERNMENT EVENT The Roosevelt Room
11:00 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning everybody. Please sit down. I'm sorry we're starting late, but I had to have a conversation with Prime Minister Hosokawa of Japan, and it was getting very late there, and I couldn't put it off until after this meeting. And we'll have more to say about that later in the day. I apologize, but it was unavoidable. We had to make the call.
One year ago today, I asked the Vice President to conduct a review of our entire government, to find out how we could do more and do better with less. Six months ago he presented his report to me and to the American people. Today, we tell the American people that we are keeping our commitment. This report is not gathering dust in a warehouse, it is still our blueprint for building a government that gives the taxpayers real value for their hardearned dollars.
Here's the most important reason why this report is different from earlier ones on government reform. When Herbert Hoover finished the Hoover Commission, he went back to Stanford. When Peter Grace finished the Grace Commission, he went back to New York City. But when the Vice President finished his report, he had to go back to his office -- (laughter) -- 20 feet from mine -- and go back to working to turn the recommendations into reality.
Throughout the government agencies are talking to their employees, involving their unions and improving services and cutting costs. Eighty percent of the recommendations in the Vice President's report have already been started on the way to implementation. And almost every dollar of the savings this report recommends has been built into the 1995 budget to help us make the tough budget reduction targets.
I'm pleased that throughout the government people asking themselves how they can meet the challenges in the report -- put customers first, cut red tape, empower employees to provide better services at lower cost.
Yesterday I signed performance agreements with Secretary Cisneros, Secretary Reich, Secretary Babbitt and Ambassador Bowles of the Small Business Administration, Ambassador Roger Johnson of the General Services Administration -- Administrator Roger Johnson of the General Services Administration. All these agreements set specific goals for their departments to improve the quality and efficiency of service.
I'm pleased that Congress is also answering this challenge. Legislation to offer the early retirement incentives to government employees whose jobs are no longer necessary has now passed the House and the Senate. As private industry has learned,
buyouts are the best way to streamline a work force while keeping it both productive and diverse.
And when Congress passes the crime bill we'll take he savings from reducing the federal bureaucracy by a quarter million and use it to put 100,000 more police officers on our streets. I'm also pleased by our progress in getting more value for taxpayers' money in the goods and services government buys. Americans have a right to be angry when they hear their government is spending too much for a hammer or a toilet seat. They have a right to demand that tax dollars be spent with discipline and judgment. From now on government's going to do what ordinary citizens do -- comparison shop for goods and services we buy, and get the best value for every dollar. That's common sense and it needs to be more common in government.
You know, just last night, there was a story on the evening news about some defense contractors billing the government for Caribbean travel junkets and season boxes for baseball seats -- even after all the cutbacks in defense. That story underscores the need for reform of our procurement system.
The procurement reform bills being considered in Congress make it a violation of federal law to bill the government for entertainment expenses and knowingly submit unallowable costs. Government contractors are entitled to a vacation just like anybody else, but not at taxpayer expense.
Finally, we're working to reform the civil service, to create a modern, flexible work force. As the first step, the Office of Personnel Management has already gotten rid of the hide-bound and hated 10,000 page personnel manual. Step by step we're cutting the red tape and removing the reams of paper from the forklifts the Vice President and I stood in front of just six months ago. We're finding new ways to make government serve the taxpayers better and less expensively.
And now I'd like to introduce him in the way that he often introduces me -- the person who made this all possible -- (laughter and applause) -- the Vice President of the United States. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. And I want to acknowledge Elaine Kamarck, who is our Staff Director at the National Performance Review; and Phil Lader, who is now your Deputy Chief of Staff, but was the "M" at OMB, and my ally and partner in this; and all of the NPR staff for their extremely hard work over the past year.
Just one year ago today, you made the announcement kicking off the National Performance Review. And the weeks that immediately followed were extremely hectic. And really the year that followed has been extremely hectic. But since September when we delivered the report to you, we've made a lot of progress, and we want to tell you a little about some of it today.
I also want to recognize Jim King, the Director of OPM, who is here; and Roger Johnson, the Director of the General Services Administration, who is here and has been such a strong ally on these efforts; and Tom Glynn, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Labor, who is here. And there are lots of other folks that I could acknowledge and should, but forgive me if I don't; because I've got some facts and figures, but none of the facts and figures are more illustrative than the ones on a chart about fish ladders.
Fish ladders are the devices that the American government uses to make it easier for fish to climb a dam. Everybody knows that; that's what salmon and steelhead use to get over the
Bonneville Dam in Washington or the Red Bluff Dam in California. When the fish swim upstream to lay their eggs, they need fish ladders to get over the dam -- simple devices. But it used to take three years and 21 review steps to approve building one of them.
I'd like to introduce to you Roger Patterson from the Department of Interior. He brought along a chart that he would like to show to you.
MR. PATTERSON: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, thank you. This is truly an honor for me.
This is the process that we used to have to go through to get a fish ladder built. The Vice President's right -- it took about three years. It wasted a lot of time. It wasted a lot of money. And it wasted a lot of fish. (Laughter.)
We have recently reinvented ourselves. We've cut back on layers of review and bureaucracy. And that process that used to take three years now takes less than six months. That's important for more than the obvious, since the average lifespan of a salmon is three to four years. A salmon, entire population, could be threatened while we were waiting for the bureaucracy to act.
Here's what we did. This is the person on the ground on the -- (inaudible) -- River that sees the fish -- (inaudible) -- into a dam. We keep him. (Laughter.) Those three guys work for me. We eliminate them. It's a very important job. That's my job. (Laughter.)
(Inaudible) -- and that allowed us -- this is fun. (Laughter.) This is my boss, so we keep him. (Laughter.) And these are the Department of Interior, OMB and the Congress.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: And you keep them. (Laughter.)
MR. PATTERSON: We keep them for now. (Laughter and applause.) And I'm not too sure what OMB knows about fish ladders -- (laughter). So we're proud of this. This is just an example. The Bureau of Reclamation is doing everything this way. And that's what we're proud of.
THE PRESIDENT: Great. And how much time will save, do you think?
MR. PATTERSON: It changed the three to one-half year. And this is now eight steps instead of 21.
THE PRESIDENT: Good for you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Great job. (Applause.)
Thank you very, very much, Roger Patterson. Mr. President, what's happening with fish ladders and the process that Roger described is happening all over the country in every single agency and department. We've had tremendous progress.
There are two ways to talk about progress. In the first half of the year we listened to the American people. They told us that they thought the government was wasting a lot of their money and couldn't do anything right. We also listened to the men and women who work for the government who told us exactly how and when the government wastes money and why it can't seem to do anything right.
Then we put what we had learned on paper and we published the report that you referred to earlier. Since then we've
been working nonstop to make sure that every one of the cost savings and every single reform that we recommended, no matter how small, gets implemented.
On the savings part of it, in the report we projected that we would save in Fiscal Years 1994 and 1995 $12.6 billion. Some of those savings were submitted to Congress last fall. The majority of those savings have been submitted in your 1995 budget.
And I want to acknowledge Leon Panetta, the Director of OMB, who has been such a strong ally and who made certain that virtually all of these recommendations were included in the budget. And it's not as if we didn't meet an awful lot of resistance in doing that. But altogether as a result, the administration has submitted out of the $12.6 billion in savings for these two fiscal years, $12.5 billion are in the budget. Now, Director Panetta will be available later to give details of this from the budget.
Mr. President, you have signed 18 presidential directives from the report; 155 of our recommendations appear in the budget; and another 38 will appear in individual agency budget justification documents to be sent to Congress in the coming weeks. This means that half of all our original recommendations will be implemented as part of the budget. In total, 85 percent of the 255 agency-specific recommendations either are being implemented or have been proposed in pending legislation or are in the FY '95 budget.
Now, finally we've designated over 130 reinvention laboratories, which we've challenged to cut red tape and improve customer service. But for me the success stories of reinvention cannot be totally captured in dollars saved or legislation passed, important as both are.
For me, reinventing government is succeeding when individual public employees get the message and decide that they can do it, and take the initiative the way Roger and his folks have.
You know, last year I told you that I was going to go to every single agency and department, and I did -- and every single one; and starting this month, I will be revisiting every single agency and department -- this time to celebrate the heroes of the revinvention efforts underway in these departments, to celebrate their successes, and help with the continuing problems.
On March 9th, next Wednesday, I hope that many of you will join me when I meet with people from around the government who are providing superb customer service.
Now, I'd like to now give you a brief glimpse of how we are doing. Any organization geared to customers will tell you that before you can hope to serve your customers, you've got to cut red tape. Now, we have an example -- Bonneville Power, which was referred to earlier is one of several facilities that the federal government manages. It's also one of our reinvention laboratories that I referred to.
Until you issued your executive order on streamlining last fall, Bonneville issued 250 reports per year. And we have the stack right over here. This cost the customers of Bonneville around $6 million per year. The workers at Bonneville, as part of the reinvention effort, have been going through these reports and deciding which ones they can do without. Half of this stack is now gone and the other half is shrinking fast. And when that stack of papers shrinks, the taxpayers save money.
Other agencies are doing the same thing. You may remember, Mr. President, that back in September -- not on the first day, but I think the second or third day when the report came out --
we went out to a GSA warehouse and we talked about bug spray and we talked about all the procurement reforms that were needed and the actual forms that were being used. Here is the stack of small purchase forms that we had on the desk last September. These forms used to cost the government $50 for each small purchase that was made. But the government is now moving rapidly to eliminate all of these. Many of them have already been eliminated. And under a new contract that GSA has signed with Visa, the government pays no fees and gets rebates on many of the purchases. And at least 5 million small purchases a year will be switched over the purchase card, saving us millions. With each purchase, we avoid $50 worth of paperwork. And on many of them, we get rebates instead.
Now, just to show you what it looks like in case you need to run out and buy a box of file folders -- (Laughter) --there's one that you can use.
Now, finally, Mr. President, there are very few things that we do in government that are as important as guaranteeing the safety of the American workplace. And I'd like to introduce to you Ms. Joan Hyatt who is an OSHA inspector from Denver, Colorado. And she has a story to tell.
MS HYATT: Thank you very much, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. I was asked to dress today as I would for any other normal workday, so I appear in front of you in my blue jeans.
In October of last year OSHA held a reinvention conference, of which I was a participant. At that conference there were about 50 frontline workers and supervisors who were asked to determine ways that they could change the agency to make their jobs better, to stop and reduce some of the excess paperwork that we had to do, and to get into the workplace more, where we should be protecting the American workers.
At the end of that conference, the 50 participants, including myself, came up with 22 initiatives. And the top management officials from OSHA were brought in, and they were asked to either approve or disapprove of those 22 initiatives right there on the spot. Nineteen of those initiatives were approved. And one of them was the initiative to revise what we called our "field operations manual." This is our field operations manual, or it was. It's approximately 400 pages long. As you can see, it's quite lengthy.
This is what dictates to us that we should fill out a large amount of paperwork and tells us exactly what kind of documentation we need to provide. It also tells us how to put one foot in front of the other and walk down the aisle of a workplace to do our inspections. (Laughter.)
The manual obviously was not real user-friendly. And what we did was we revised that manual down to a document that is less than 100 pages. It's currently in its draft form, and it is being reviewed. We hope to implement this shortly. And the end result will be that the OSHA inspectors will be able to get into the field more readily. And I will not spend as much time sitting behind my desk filling out paperwork. I'll be able to walk down the workplaces and protect the American workers.
Mr. President, this is your copy.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Let's give her a hand. That's great. (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good job. Thank you very much. Thank you. I want to thank you, Joan. And, Mr President, I want to tell you that we've just begun. In that last several months we've
made an enormous amount of progress. As you can tell from Roger's comments and Joan's comments and the other examples that we've been telling you about and those that federal employees have been telling you about directly, there's a tremendous amount of enthusiasm among the men and women who work for the federal government who are now allowing themselves to believe that this really is happening. They are going to be able to make it change. And the American people are going to be able to get the savings and eliminate the red tape and the unnecessary bureaucracy and provide superior customer to the American people.
We've got a long way to go. Nobody said that it was going to happen overnight. Indeed, we said the full implementation of the report could take as long as eight to 10 years. We are way ahead of schedule. We're making tremendous progress. And your team has really made that possible. And it's -- when we get to the oneyear anniversary of the actual release of the report, we'll have a lot more success stories, but we're going to be highlighting some as we go along starting next week.
I'm going to turn it back over to you.
THE PRESIDENT: First let me say, I think that the Vice President has done a terrific job. I want to thank Elaine and all the people who have worked on this. I want to thank Leon Panetta and the folks at OMB and Roger Johnson and the people at General Services Administration, and Jim King and the folks at the Office of Personnel Management for the progress that they have made and the work that they have done to make this possible.
And most importantly I'd like to thank the people who work for the federal government. These two employees who stood up here today, I think, reflect what most people who work for this government are like. They want to do a good job. They want the taxpayers to be proud of the work they do. And they don't want to spend all their time wading around in paperwork and unnecessary rules and regulations. They represent our government at its best. And I thank both of you, and I thank all of you for coming.
Thank you. (Applause.)
You all relax now, we've got to do a few questions. (Laughter.)
Q Mr. President, are you concerned about the appearance of impropriety of these meetings between Treasury officials and the White House?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q Have you been able to find out if there have been any other meetings other than the one that was reported? And what will be done about it?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, the answer is, yes, I'm concerned about that. Nearly as I can determine, no one has actually done anything wrong or attempted to improperly influence any government action. But I think it would be better if the meetings and conversations hadn't occurred.
I think now that there is an actual formal process underway, everyone will be much more sensitive. But I have directed Mack McLarty to prepare a memorandum about how we should handle and respond to any such contacts coming our way in this office so that we will bend over backwards to avoid not only the fact but any appearance of impropriety. It is very, very important to me.
I was a Governor for a long time, and there was never a hint of impropriety or scandal in my administration. And to the best of my knowledge the people who come here to work everyday in this administration, there has been no suggestion of abuse of power or anyone pursuing some personal advantage. And I want the American people to feel that. So I have told Mr. McLarty that we have to -- we've already talked to people here in the office to make it clear that they understand that I -- first of all, I feel that this -- all these investigations, they should go forward, unimpeded and as quickly as possible. And I have every confidence in what the facts will reveal. So I think that it's very, very important that while all this is going on that the activity around it should be handled in such a way as to avoid even the appearance of a conflict.
Later today, I think, we will have the memorandum for you, and we'll be glad to answer any questions surrounding that.
Q Well, shouldn't your lawyer be more sensitive to this --
THE PRESIDENT: I think there was a difference -- what we have to do -- let me say, we are also researching exactly what the actual rules are for what kinds of meetings can occur when. And I don't want to get into all the hypotheticals. But, for example, if the press asks questions to one place that are known and another place, the answers might be known in the White House; if someone's asking the agency, can they talk or not, I mean, that was one of the meetings that was discussed in the morning paper.
I want to make exactly -- I want to make it clear that we know what the rules are, but as I said -- and so I can't answer all those questions, in fact, right now. But in addition to what the rules are, what I want the people here to understand is, never mind what the rules are, bend over backwards to avoid the appearance of it. Let's let this thing go forward. There is an investigative process. The records are in hand, as far as I know, for the investigators to do their work. Let it go forward. We don't need to have any implication that we are in any way trying to manage or affect this process. We are not. We must not. And I don't want the American people to give it a second thought.
So the memorandum today should make that clear. And I don't think there will be further problems on this.
Q Mr. President, can you elaborate for us on your conversation with Prime Minister Hosokawa?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I called him to discuss the -- the trade issue. And the Trade Ambassador will have an announcement on that later today, and then we'll be glad to answer questions about it. But I think I should let him announcement first.
Q was it a friendly conversation --
THE PRESIDENT: It was a friendly, a forthright conversation. It's consistent with the tone that we've established in our relationship. But it was one that I had to have today.
Q Super 301?
THE PRESIDENT: We'll have an announcement about that later today.
Q Actually, could I just ask on this subject --
Q (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Yes -- (laughter) -- I was beginning to think that we were the only two policy wonks in the world that love -- (laughter). There they go again.
Q When this report was released six months ago, you were predicting, I think it was $108 billion in savings --
THE VICE PRESIDENT: $106 billion. (Laughter.) Be careful not to inflate that number. (Laughter.)
Q and over five years -- I mean, are you confident that the targets can be met?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. There was a fundamental misunderstanding about the difference between savings and CBO scoring. If you have savings and the caps are not adjusted, then the CBO says that's zero, but the savings are real. And that is the case for every single one of the savings in the report.
I'll give you quick example -- we recommended the closing of a uniformed military medical school. The savings involved each year in closing that are about, what, $200, $300 million per year. Under the arcane rules of scoring, that's called zero, because the caps aren't changed. But in the real world where the money is spent, that is a real savings.
And when this all plays out, you'll see that they're real. For example, in the '94 budget year, which was only -- we only caught part of that because we were well into it when the report was released -- but in that part of the '94 budget year and in the '95 budget year, we called in the report for the portion of the $106 billion in savings reflected there for $12.6 billion. Out of that amount, $12.5 billion will be gained. And our -- those savings are in the budget, so -- give us time. We'll demonstrate how and where the savings occur, and they will be real.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thanks very much.
END11:26 A.M. EST