THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Portland, Oregon) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 20, 1996
PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY AND DR. ELAINE KAMARCK, THE VICE PRESIDENT'S SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry Portland, Oregon
11:33 A.M. PDT
MR. MCCURRY: I've asked Dr. Elaine Kamarck, who is the Vice President's Senior Policy Advisor and has been the quarterback for the Reinventing Government effort to be available for any questions you might have on the President's and Vice President's announcements today related to the next round of Reinventing Government.
Elaine, thank you.
DR. KAMARCK: Good afternoon. I just want to say that the book we released today is the third annual progress report on Reinventing Government from the Vice President to the President. We have published one of these every year since we made the initial report.
One of the reasons we do this each year is, as the President and Vice President said, reinventing government is something that is ongoing, we're constantly doing it, it's regulation by regulation, statute by statute, innovation by innovation.
This year, we believe there is a powerful story to tell of change in the government. The quantitative story is all there in terms of the number of people reduced in the government and savings, et cetera.
We are also, though, more interested and proudest of the qualitative story, which is told, really, in the more narrative part of the report of reinvention in agencies, of American citizens actually feeling a change in their government and having their government really work better and cost less. And that's one of the reasons we do the report in this fashion. The appendices detail, the cuts and the savings -- the front part of the book tries to capture, though, the real change in the government in favor of citizens.
And I'll just take your questions.
Q The $118 billion is over what period of time exactly?
DR. KAMARCK: -- $118 billion is from 1993, from September of 1993, through about August when we closed this off, of this year, and put it to print. Yes. And there are other -- there's about $5 billion more pending in the appropriations bills that are now in Congress that are also reinventing government recommendations.
Q You made the distinction between your own reinventing government proposals and things that were forced upon you by the budget bills --
DR. KAMARCK: Yes, we do. Yes. I mean, we -- everything that we count in here we have defined publicly either in the first reinventing government report or in the second series of reinvention. Remember the President asked the Vice President to do this twice -- first in March of 1993, and then he asked him again in 1994 to take a second look at the government, a second review. In the White House we called that REGO Two. And we have -- there are press conferences and reports on every department's reinvention. So, yes, those are all defined by us and counted by us.
Q Why are they released as books instead of government reports -- books by Al Gore?
DR. KAMARCK: This is a government report. I mean, this is published by the Government Printing Office; it is a government report.
Q At government expense?
DR. KAMARCK: Yes, this is a government report.
Q I mean, the third one done --
DR. KAMARCK: We've done three of these. We've done three of these. We did one in September of 1994, one in September of 1995, which was called Common Sense Government. And this is the third report.
Q In estimates of the job -- when you measure the jobs from '93 through last August, that 109,000 to 185,00 were Defense Department jobs. Is that the same ratio --
DR. KAMARCK: Yes. The appendices explains -- remember that the Defense Department is the 800-pound gorilla of federal government. It is practically half of the civilian government. So the very first figure in the book shows that the Defense Department's downsizing is not disproportionate to other departments downsizing. All the departments have downsized, it's just that the Defense Department is, in fact, so much larger than everyone else that their numbers are very big. But every single department of the government except for the Justice Department has shrunk in size since we've been doing this.
Q Elaine, you're saying in this report that you have saved $118 billion over three years, and yet the campaign keeps insisting it would be impossible for Bob Dole to save, say, twice that much over seven years without gutting the government. Can you explain why it's possible for you to do it, but you claim it's not possible for him to?
DR. KAMARCK: Part of what we've done in the last three years is we've taken a lot of the fat out of the government, we've eliminated a lot of jobs that were not necessary, we are replacing things with technology at a fairly rapid pace. Even the addition to the White House home page that was announced today -- the more things like that you do, the more people you save. The more phone operators you don't have to hire, the more people you have -- you don't have to be mailing things out, et cetera.
So we have really made a lot of success in taking out the fat in the government. There does get to be a point when, if you expect to deliver services and people expect you to do things, you can't get too much smaller. We think we can shrink the government more. We think we can save money more. But we think that Bob Dole's estimates are unrealistic.
Q How much do you think you could shrink the government in the next four years, say?
DR. KAMARCK: Well, the PBO concept that the President announced today, the Performance Based Organizations, has the potential to deliver a very high quality of service at a much smaller number. We are not going to give out a set number, but let me say by means of comparison that over an eight-year period in the British government, the use of this concept to change the way the government does its business, okay, allowed them to cut their civil service by a third. So there are huge potentials to changing the way we do the government.
But again, any change that we do have in the upcoming four to six years will be done, hopefully, the way we did the first changes -- with buyouts, with attrition, and treating our federal workers with respect.
Q If I might follow, I'm sort of having trouble following your suggesting that the government could be cut by a third --
DR. KAMARCK: No, I'm not suggesting the government could be cut by a third, I'm saying that there is in another government, another system, okay, they used this concept and it helped them cut by a third. Now, we've already cut by about 11 percent. We're already into this process. We will be a smaller government. There is no doubt about it. We'll be a smaller government in the next four years. How much smaller is hard to say because a lot of that depends upon the demands that the American people make on their government, what they want it to be doing for them.
Q What I'm trying to understand is, you seem to be saying that you're going to be able to do what you claim he isn't able to do, and I'm trying to understand --
DR. KAMARCK: Because we believe that we can keep shrinking the government, we believe we can keep offering services better. Their budget numbers are based upon a set of assumptions that we don't think are realistic that have to do with Medicare and Medicaid and things that really don't go to the size of government, they go to the entitlement programs and what people expect from government.
Q Would you address the criticism that you folks were so eager to show savings that personnel cuts came first and management improvements in efficiency came second.
DR. KAMARCK: You can talk to any Fortune 500 CEO who has conducted this for a large company and they will tell you that you do the two things simultaneously. This notion that you sort of do this elaborate plan and then you cut is purely an academic notion, it exist in academia and nowhere else in the real world.
Everyone downsizes and reengineers simultaneously. It's a very difficult -- it's often a painful process. If the stories in the book, the reengineering of Miami customs, the reengineering of the Social Security Telephone System -- these are stories where we are cutting and we are reengineering simultaneously. And this has been going on almost everywhere in the government. I just believe that that is an unrealistic, ivory-tower view of how you do this in the world.
And I will tell you, you can go to any CEO of any major company in the country and they'll tell you the same thing.
Okay, thank you.
MR. MCCURRY: Any other subjects?
Q Would you just clarify again what the President was saying about the First Lady's role in welfare reform, how major a role she'll have? And why did she seemed to be surprised about it?
MR. MCCURRY: Well, the President, in an impromptu remark in a television interview said that all of us have to work together to make welfare reform a success and he suggested that the First Lady, given her extraordinary experience and advocacy on behalf of children, would be certainly someone with ideas to contribute, and he suggested maybe she should have a role. But he stressed very quickly it was not a formal role. I think it was a testimony by the President to his wife's long career of advocacy on behalf of children and the expertise she would have as we all work over the next four years to implement welfare reform.
Q Exactly what would she be doing?
MR. MCCURRY: That was not at all clear from the President's impromptu remark. She's got expertise, she can probably have ways that she could lend that expertise or help identify those in the community of child advocacy who have got a special concern about kids as the mothers of those children make the necessary transition from welfare dependency to work.
Q And the second question was, why did she seemed surprised --
MR. MCCURRY: The President hadn't discussed it with her, so it was the first she had heard about it -- when he offered the idea in the course of the interview. This is, by the way, for references, the Barbara Walters interview will be on tonight.
MR. MCCURRY: Tonight. What time, Sam?
MR. DONALDSON: At 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central.
MR. MCCURRY: At 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, 9:00 p.m. Central.
Q The President is here supporting Tom Bruggere. How much of a priority is it for him this time around --
MR. MCCURRY: I'll leave that for our political people.
Any other subjects? Yes.
Q Can you shed more light on what it was the Secret Service discovered at the public rally --
MR. MCCURRY: An officer from the Uniform Services Division of the Secret Service discovered lying on the ground several dozen small spherical projectiles. They appeared to be projectiles without casings attached, so they were not live ammunition. Obviously, the Secret Service and local police are investigating further and they took some steps that I'm sure you saw reflected during the event. But the President was confident that he was well protected during the event.
Q Were they spherical or cylindrical?
MR. MCCURRY: They were conical and they appeared to be 7 millimeter -- I'm told that they appeared to be 7 millimeter projectiles such as you would find attached to a casing, although there were no live casings attached.
Q Was he told about it?
MR. MCCURRY: I believe he was told about it and he expressed no concern about it.
Q After he spoke? He was told after the event?
MR. MCCURRY: I don't know if he was told before or after.
Q Did the Secret Service believe there was a connection between the President's visit and these --
MR. MCCURRY: They're investigating further. We wouldn't make that judgment.
Q What about the reports that somebody might have been arrested?
MR. MCCURRY: I checked with our security folks, they had no information on that. You might want to check with local police on that.
Q On the D.C. welfare waiver, can you tell us what role the White House or the campaign played in that decision? Do you see it as good politics to withdraw --
MR. MCCURRY: To my knowledge, none. I think the Department of Health and Human Services has commented to that and discussed the ways in which they reviewed the waiver, and that's fairly well reflected in the coverage today.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 11:45 A.M. PDT