Vice President Gore's Town Hall Meeting

The following is a transcript of Vice President Gore's Town Hall Meeting at the Second Annual Reinvention Revolution Conference in Bethesda, Md.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much, I really appreciate the warm welcome, and Tommy, thank you for that introduction. I told him he's a lot smoother this year. He's -- this is old hat for him now. But I really do appreciate that very much, and I want to thank Secretary Bruce Babbitt, and thank you very much for your leadership and presentation, and Dr. Trachtenberg, the President of George Washington University, one of our co-hosts, thank you very much.

To all of the members of the PMC, the President's Management Council, a special word of thanks for your leadership and stamina in helping to implement all of the many recommendations on reinvention. I want to also acknowledge Pat McGinnis of the Council for Excellence in Government, and Tim Clark with Government Executive Magazine, also co-sponsors, and Ron Sanders from George Washington University, Michael Lipsky of the Ford Foundation. I also want to acknowledge Elaine Kamarck, who is my REGO Chief of Staff, and Bob Stone, who is our manager at REGO -- REGO is what we call Reinventing Government, "Rego" is Gore spelled sideways. As some of you know, I've worked hard on this.

I want to also thank those participating at the different satellite locations and I want to especially thank all of the reinventors who are attending here and who are attending at the other locations that are connected to us by satellite.

This is kind of a sobering time for me, actually. Tommy was kind of joking a little bit in his introduction and he'll do that. For me, it's kind of a sobering time because I'm living with the constant awareness that I'm only one kneecap away from the presidency. But I'm bearing the burden well. I've had a little taste of the office. As some of you may have heard the legal analysis on what happened January 20th, when, according to the Constitution, the president's term ends precisely at noon, and by custom I was sworn in at 11:58 and the singer, who sang beautifully, went on for considerably longer than expected and the president therefore was not sworn in to his second term until 12:05 p.m. Yes, I'm convinced that historians will remember the Gore administration as a time when our nation was at peace, at home and abroad; we had a booming economy with low inflation; we created 3.1 jobs ... Fewer crimes were committed during my presidency than any other Democratic or Republican, partly because we put two new community police officers on the beat, Eddy and Duane. But what was most important to me was that for the entire Gore administration partisan bickering, so often the bane of Washington, gave way to bipartisan harmony. Indeed, patriotic hymns burst forth from the steps of the Capitol, and I think it was partly for that reason that the chant began and swept across the mall and westward all the way to the Pacific Coast, all across America, "Five more minutes, five more minutes."

Anyway, it's great to be here today with so many "reinventioneers." That's what I call reinventors who come to a convention of reinventors. Not just from the federal government but from all sectors public and private, and as I acknowledged all these wonderful people it kind of reminded me a little bit of that Academy Award ceremony. I couldn't help but note the one joke, Billy Crystal said everyone shows up at the Academy Awards full of hope but the only person sure to wake up with a statue tomorrow morning is Tipper Gore.

As Groucho Marx once said, "I resemble that remark."

You know, four years ago President Clinton called me into his office and he said, "Al, I want you to do something for me." And having studied the history of the vice presidency, I anticipated the task and I replied, "Will you be wanting the Big Mac or the Happy Meal?" But I was wrong. I had guessed completely wrong. He wanted a Whopper. No, no, no, seriously, he did call me into his office and what he wanted was, he said that he wanted me to take the lead in changing the federal government so that it works better and costs less. He and I had written about reinventing government, both of us, me as a Senator and him as a governor; both of us had worked on these ideas before, and we wanted to move forward. I really didn't know until then that this was going to be an all-consuming mission for me, but I went about trying to learn how to do it, and a lot of you here have been my teachers.

I started by convening a group of management experts and CEOs who had successfully reinvented major corporations. One of the first things they said was that to make a change of this magnitude it would take eight to twelve years, and -- eight years, twelve years ... Well, I said sure, that's -- that's no problem. But they also told me something that I already knew. Incidentally, we are ahead of schedule on that, I'm serious about them saying it would take that long and, like a lot of good, worthwhile things, it does take time to accomplish this. But we're on track, and we really are ahead of schedule and we're close to crossing some thresholds where people around the country will look up and say, "I see a difference, I feel a difference, I notice a difference." I'll give you some examples of that a little bit later.

But the CEOs also told me something that I already knew. They said that most of the energy and creativity and inventive ideas to change the way they did business did not come from hired guns or advisers; they came from their employees on the front lines. Now, there have been many attempts to reform the federal government in this century. My team and I went back and reviewed all of them. Fifty different reports, eleven different formal efforts to reform the government. But up until now none of them have really succeeded. Why do I think ours will succeed? Well, none of the previous attempts was based on federal employees. All of the previous attempts ignored you or tried to make you the problem, tried to define you as what was wrong. What company ever succeeded in working better and smarter by pointing at its own employees and saying, "They are the problem." None. For obvious reasons.

I was convinced that you, the federal employees, were not the problem but that you were the solution, and that you are the solution. Who else knows better where the waste is, what pointless regulations and rules need to be changed or abolished, and how partnerships can replace rivalry and replace confrontation. So to the federal employees who are here today and to all of you who are watching by the satellite hookups, thank you very much. You have confirmed my faith and confidence in your, and I'm extremely grateful, as is President Clinton and as are the American people. After decades of being demoralized by bureaucrat bashing and after being victimized by shutdowns, you overcame these obstacles and rose to the challenge. You proved that you are the solution to reinventing government.

You know, three and a half decades ago, about the time when the Beatles were singing "She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah," I heard them sing that in the old U-Line (phonetic) Arena here in Washington, but around that time that's the way that most Americans felt about their government. Very, very positive. Confidence in government was high. Over 70 percent said they -- of the American people said they trusted the federal government to do the right thing most of the time. Some of you are familiar with the public opinion surveys that have followed that confidence level over the years and you can see it go down over the decades and now it has dropped to -- it did drop to a low of 17 percent before we took office in January of 1993.

However, the most recent Hart-Teeter poll found that confidence in the federal government, for the first time in 35 years, has now finally begun to rise again. You ought to be proud to know that America's confidence in our self-government is on the rebound. It's going back up again. That's really a significant change. And it's no accident. I attribute it entirely to you, the federal employees, and your sustained efforts to reinvent government. Obviously, we still have a long way to go. We understand that clearly. You understand it better than anyone. But we are absolutely on the right track.

Another measure of our success, customer service, has become a mantra in reinvention circles by presidential proclamation. It's just common sense. Like the private sector, we have to look to our customers to measure our success. After we issued the customer service standards executive order in 1993, there was a lot of head scratching at first. Some people asked, "What's a customer?" Because the word seems kind of out of place at first, or did, in the context of services provided by the federal government. Some people thought their boss was their customer. Some people thought it was Congress that was their customer. One group actually identified their customers as "wild horses and burros." We got a lot of very interesting responses to that question, "Who are your customers?"

According to the dictionary, a customer is a client, a regular patron of goods and services. So using this definition, has anything changed in the past four years in how we treat our customers? Well, the short answer is an emphatic yes. We know the answer because, for the first time, 150 agencies from across government have surveyed their customers to find out the answer. For the first time now we have real data on how we are doing. We will be publishing all the results soon, but let me give you a little sneak preview.

One hundred percent of calls to U.S. Customs are now answered in 60 seconds or less. That's quite an achievement. Second, in February of this year, always the busiest month, 97 percent of the Social Security Administration's callers got through in five minutes or less. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, piloted a 1-800 customer help line following disasters in New York and Pennsylvania, and 100 percent of the inquiries were answered with a single call. Another one, more than 80 percent of visitors ranked the National Parks Visitor centers as "good" to "very good." More people are getting their first-class mail delivered on time, as promised by the Postal Service. That means overnight, locally, or anywhere in the continental U.S. within three days. The Postal Service could only do that in 1993 74 percent of the time. Now, after eight straight quarters of improvement, they're scoring over 90 percent by that measure.

Surveying and listening to customers is making us change the way we do everything. Here's another example. Fifty percent of our customers could not find what they wanted in the blue pages of the telephone book. If they wanted a passport, what would they look under? Well, naturally, "I." For Immigration and Naturalization Service. Or if you couldn't figure that one out, you could look a passport under "S," for "State Department." I suppose "W," "Wanna go somewhere."

But how about letting them look under "P" for "Passport"? What a revolutionary idea, to list the key federal services in the blue pages rather than listing the organizational names. If your boss is the customer, you might want to put "I" or "S." If the person receiving the service is your customer and you start looking through that person's eyes, listening through that person's ears, thinking the way that person thinks, then you'll put it under "P" for "Passport," because that's what they're going to be looking for. That's a big change. And it was made because it was customer-driven. That's the key to it.

And how about occupational safety and health's new, easy-to-use expert system on the Internet? Say a small business owner needs to know how to handle asbestos or cadmium. Push a button and bang, there is the answer. So far, 80,000 business owners have gotten answers just that easily. And that particular revolutionary change is just now beginning. The Internet's going to help customer service tremendously, so a lot of you are already making that happen.

And people like the Department of Labor's online job bank so well that the Department of Labor is launching America's Talent Bank. Today, the job bank shows people how to find training and employment opportunities. Now, the Talent Bank lists online the resumes of people looking for work so they can be easily found by potential employers. The Talent Bank is a wonderful example of using information technology to provide an extremely useful and timely customer service.

Well, I could go on, but you get the idea. We have sure come a long way from the days when we weren't even sure who our customers were.

In the children's fable, Alice asks the Cheshire Cat, "Where ought I to go from here?" And the cat replies, "That depends a good deal on where you want to go." So where do we want to go? These customer service examples, and Tommy Roland's legendary reinvention efforts at the Miami Airport, these are outstanding beachheads of reinvention. What we need to extend the D-Day analogy is a series of breakouts from these beachheads. We need to move from liberating single airports or offices or state parks to liberating whole agencies and, finally, to liberate the entire federal government from the obsolete, old, suffocating, inefficient, wasteful, terrible way of doing things and, instead, adopt the customer-oriented, employee-empowering, streamlined, red-tape-cutting, common-sense way of doing things that you all have been innovating. That means we have to break through some barriers in order to do it.

At last year's meeting here at the Natcher Center, you told me about some barriers, and just like you listened to your customers, I listened to you. You said there were two main obstacles to achieving the kind of breakout that we need. First, you told me that communications to the front lines were poor. Committed reinventors didn't know what was going on in Washington and didn't know what was going on with other reinventors. Second, you said the top brass, or the "higher ups," as one person put it, just don't get it.

Well, on the first point, keeping all the reinventors informed, I think we've made some real progress. The Federal Communicators Network provides reinvention news to the editors of over 350 agency newsletters and similar publications. This network collectively addresses over 3 million civilian and military federal personnel. There is also an NPR home page at www.npr.gov. I invite you to check it out. It provides, over the Internet, a whole array of materials and services that now keep us well-informed and able to share bright ideas. I see a couple people writing that down. In case you didn't get it, www.npr.gov. No caps. As is customary.

To your second point, about helping to make certain that senior management will "get it," I have three magic words: Blair House Papers, a little red book. I recently went to China, and -- I thought a little red book would be just the thing. The Saturday before our second inauguration, President Clinton and I held a cabinet retreat at the Blair House, right across the street from the White House, and most of the day we were split up into issue-oriented working groups, but there was one plenary session with everybody in the same place. My presentation to the cabinet at that plenary session is what you will find in the pages of this book. It's not very long, and the pages are pretty small, and it's highly readable and I recommend it highly.

It is not my book, it is our book. Distilled into fifteen steps is what we have learned and what we have taught each other in the first four years of reinvention. This book contains the lessons from front-line reinventors who achieved the beachhead breakouts. You each have a copy in the bag that you were given when you came here.

New, let me be perfectly clear. I want all senior executives, all political appointees, all the leaders in federal service, to read and apply the lessons in this book. President Clinton says, in his foreword to the Blair House Papers, quote, "I urge you to pay careful attention to these ideas," end quote. Let me translate. That's what he says when he means, "Just do it." Just do it. I'm convinced that if every federal manager applied these 15 principles, reinvention breakouts would start happening tomorrow. We're using the Blair House Papers to tell your bosses to get it. Understand it. Adopt it. Internalize it, absorb it, implement it, do it. And I'm asking you front-line reinventors, in turn, to use this document as a wedge to ask for, indeed to demand, more responsibility, more authority, and more empowerment.

Our unified message is that reinvention will keep going on and on and on. We cannot and we will not stop until the job is done. That is what will amaze the benchwarmers, those who believe that reinvention was just going to go away like all of the other attempts at reform in this century. I promise you, it's not going away. We are building momentum. These first four years have seen some real accomplishments, but we have just begun to fight. We knew it would be a challenge when we took on this job, and I am committed to see this through with you. I am with you all the way. So together let's just do it.

You know, as I prepared for this conference I looked over the data from that poll I mentioned, showing the increasing confidence in the federal government. I reviewed the many significant improvements in customer service, I thought about the new cabinet and agency leaders who are applying the lessons of reinvention, and I realize that we really have reached a watershed, a turning point in the battle for a new quality culture. In his 1996 State of the Union address, President Clinton said the era of big government is over. In this, my 1997 state of reinvention address, I hereby declare the era of better government has begun. Let's make it happen. So now I'm going to come on down here to these stools and hear from some of you outstanding front-line reinventors.

Let me say one other word, I forgot to say this at the beginning. We had Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House today, and the -- of course, the Middle East peace process is at a very difficult and delicate stage right now, and the talks went on a full hour longer than they were anticipated to go on, and that is the reason why they had to rejigger the schedule and why I'm here a little bit later than I hand intended to be here, but I am -- I'm looking forward to joining Tommy and some others who are with him and have a conversation about this topic. Thank you very much for hearing me out and thank you for what you're doing. Appreciate it.

(Applause.)

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Let's see, here I am. Hi, how are you, Deborah?

MR. ROLAND: This is Deborah Ruiz, who works for the Department of Defense at the Marine Corps Basic Training Base in San Diego, California.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right.

MR. ROLAND: This is Bill Johnson, who works for the Department of Agriculture in Kansas City.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Good, Bill.

MR. ROLAND: This is Georgia Layloff, who works for the Food and Drug Administration, St. Louis.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Great.

MR. ROLAND: And this is Lieutenant John Mazur. Lieutenant Mazur is a New Jersey state trooper.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Mazur or Mazoor?

MR. MAZUR: Mazur.

MR. ROLAND: Mazur.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Mazur, all right.

MR. ROLAND: Who's working in partnership with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Great. Thank you. Thank you, Tommy. And thanks to all of you for joining us.

Deborah, what -- it looks like you got a change of clothes there. Can you explain that?

MS. RUIZ: Yes, I can. We train approximately -- these are big. We train 20,000 recruits a year at MCRD, San Diego, and some of the recruits who come to train with us are overweight. And when they first get there they're issued three sets of uniforms. And as they go through their physical training, they lose substantial weight.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I've heard that.

MS. RUIZ: Yes. And when they lose the weight they get issued three sets of new uniforms again, because by regulation they have to be given new uniforms. Well, the larger-size uniforms, and this is a used pair, the larger-size uniforms go to our half-cash sales where other Marines can purchase these for half-price. But the market for this size uniform is very, very small because most Marines are in very good shape.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yes.

MS. RUIZ: So we had another regulation that said you could only keep these on the shelves for 180 days. And after that, they would go to DRMO, Defense Re-utilization Marketing Office, which is like a big supply warehouse. They were basically thrown away and these uniforms could not be used.

One of the warehouse men, a wage grade 4 at the depot, had to handle these uniforms over and over again and said, "This doesn't make sense. Why can't we reissue these after we wash them -- some of them weren't even worn -- but they'll be washed, slightly worn, and reissue them to new recruits coming on the depot." That was approved, we got -- waived both those regulations, and we're saving approximately $220,000.00 a year.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: You are kidding me. That is fantastic. Good for you.

(Applause.)

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's great. Let me see those again.

MS. RUIZ: They're big.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: How long did it take that guy to lose that weight?

MS. RUIZ: It doesn't take long.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: So if I understand it correctly -- let me just summarize this -- it all sounded reasonable. The regulation that you had beforehand sounded reasonable --

MS. RUIZ: Yes.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: -- but in practice, it was kind of silly. Because what you had is a significant number of Marine recruits coming in overweight, they go through the legendary Marine basic training, and they lose a lot of weight, and then it's time for a new uniform so the regulators in the past said, "What do we do about this? Well, let's don't just throw them away, let's see if we can recoup," and so they put them in this place for other Marines to buy but the Marines -- they've all already lost weight and so there's not a market for that, and so then they threw them away.

MS. RUIZ: Yes.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: But instead, this fellow -- a wage grade 4?

MS. RUIZ: Yes.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, now, how could somebody at wage grade 4 come up with an idea that the top boss wouldn't think of?

MS. RUIZ: Well, Mr. Archiletta (phonetic) had to handle these every day and he just used common sense.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: He was a little bit closer to the problem than the top boss.

MS. RUIZ: Yes.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: He saw this. You know, one of the things that was a great lesson for me four years ago when I started this and started talking with federal employees was that people out in the country who have maybe not had a lot of conversations with federal employees have this image from the news media and in other places that there's all this waste in the federal government and nobody really cares about it so it keeps on going. Well, there is a lot of waste but the thing that doesn't always come through in the popular impression is the people who are most offended by it are federal employees who have to stare it in the face every day. And they go home and tell their families, "They still haven't changed this. This is ridiculous. You wouldn't believe what this procedure is." And for years they've been afraid to stick their necks out with new ideas for fear they'd get their heads chopped off.

So by encouraging people who are wage grade 4 and every other place in the federal government to come forward with the good ideas that they have, based on their own feeling of outrage at some really dumb procedure, you get much better ideas than you'll get from any other place. And so now, they're being reused and the overweight first recruits are getting fine uniforms but they may not be spanking brand new but they're not going to wear them long anyway.

MS. RUIZ: That's correct.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, that's great. What other kinds of reinvention have you encountered?

MS. RUIZ: We have another one that is really quite significant, and we called it the Recruit Direct Deposit Initiative, and in October of '95 we were mandated to put all the recruits on direct deposit. Well, that sounds very simple and most services were basically saying, "Fill out the form and your pay will go to direct deposit." MCRD San Diego wanted to go beyond that and really link all the systems together and that would mean the manpower system, the pay system, partner with a private financial institution. They worked with the Treasury Department, the Armed Forces Federal Network, Financial Network, to say, "What can we do to have everything seamless, so when the recruit reports on duty he can just enter information one time and then everything will he handled electronically." Because what the recruits used to do is they had an ancient system which was script, and every purchase they made -- and these ranged from $20.00 to five cents --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Oh, it looks very sensible.

MS. RUIZ: Yes, very -- and then they're color-coded, they're color-coded, but they would rip out a chit and they would pay for their haircuts, their church donations --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: They give really good haircuts.

MS. RUIZ: Yeah, they do. Fast.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah.

MS. RUIZ: Fast haircuts. And they would buy their physical fitness gear, they would pay for them with this. When they had to buy other uniforms, before they were leaving, they would have to get travelers checks and purchase those. They had paper checks they were dealing with for their pay, so everything was paper and very, very manual.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah.

MS. RUIZ: So when the --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Here's the five-cent coupon here.

MS. RUIZ: Yeah. It's red.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Go ahead.

MS. RUIZ: So --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: You all must have really got tired of fooling with these things.

MS. RUIZ: Oh, the old process with this, when the recruits would come on-board not only did they have to pay for things this way, but the drill instructors would have to march them back and forth, they'd have to stand in lines, these had to be inventoried six times by six different people --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Of course.

MS. RUIZ: -- accounted, reconciled reports after reports after reports. They were handled so much that the color wore off and you couldn't even tell what the amount was. So when we did go to the recruit direct deposit we linked everything together, made everything seamless, worked with the Marine Corps Federal West Credit Union. Now the recruit comes on, signs one thing, has a debit card, swipes his card, his pay, his personnel information, all his purchases, everything are taken care of.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Congratulations. That's a great --

MS. RUIZ: 1.7 million.

(Applause.)

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's great. Per year?

MS. RUIZ: Per year.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I don't -- I think I cut off the punch line or one of the punch lines. Tell us how much you saved with this?

MS. RUIZ: 1.7 million dollars a year.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: That's great. By getting rid of those things.

(Applause.)

That is really wonderful. Thank you very much. I want to turn to Bill Johnson now, as you'll remember when Tommy introduced Bill, he's a computer expert with the Agriculture Department in Kansas City. What is your reinvention lab trying to accomplish?

MR. JOHNSON: What we're trying to accomplish is to automate the paper process in the Department of Agriculture and, as you know, Agriculture is quite huge. One of our agencies -- in 1994 we did a benefit/cost analysis to look at some of the expenses that we were spending in the department just to move paper around. And we found out that we were spending about $230 million a year just to move it. That's not to create it.

And then we also found out we were spending about $58 million or so for postage, we were spending -- we were handling about 11 million pages per year. So the Automated Records Management Initiative will automate that entire process and put workload management in it which will allow paper to be moved and people can make decisions on that paper automatically.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, how's it been going? Have you encountered any -- it seems like a sensible effort to change. Have you encountered any obstacles?

MR. JOHNSON: Quite a few. We've had some problems. But we look at problems as opportunities dressed up in work clothes, so we try to do some things with that. And they --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Problems dressed up fatigues that don't fit.

MR. JOHNSON: Yes. But those problems are centered around institutionalized type inhibitors, what I call them, and they're like your personnel system, procurement system, the --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Hold that so they'll pick up your sound a little bit better. Go ahead.

MR. JOHNSON: Okay. The personnel system, the procurement system, and then we have the thing that we're all familiar with, and these things are not just unique to USDA, we have this thing -- we have turf problems. And we're trying to get --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: What!

MR. JOHNSON: We're trying to get past some of those things, sir.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: USDA has turf problems?

MR. JOHNSON: I think --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Different parts of the department are in conflict with one another?

MR. JOHNSON: Oh, I think that that's true all over the federal government, sir.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I learn something every year at these meetings. Go ahead. Did you encounter some of those turf problems in trying to stop spending all that money moving paper around?

MR. JOHNSON: Yes. Yes.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Tell us about it.

MR. JOHNSON: And what we did in encountering those problems, we just kept being persistent, kept being persistent. I think that the key to it -- I use the three-P concept, which is to stay positive, stay patient, and stay persistent, and I think that that gets us through a lot of things. We are well on our way now to getting this thing off the road. We're, matter of fact, working with one of our agencies that is going to put it into production within the next -- we're looking before the end of this year, to try to get something done.

It was a good experience, I think it's a good experience for USDA, it was a good experience for those of you that are looking, trying to reinvent something and you're having some problems with it, just stay persistent, we'll get it done.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Okay, good. Good for you. Keep it up. Thank you very much, Bill.

(Applause.)

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Appreciate that. Georgia Layloff, the FDA inspector of medical devices in St. Louis. What is that?

MS. LAYLOFF: Well, I brought some few things with me. This first thing happens to be a medical device, and this is one of the devices that we do regulate, happens to be an artificial knee.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Hey! Ye-es?

MS. LAYLOFF: Thought you might know someone who could use one.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, that's very thoughtful of you. Thank you very much. I will take this straight to the Oval Office. That's good, yeah. Absolutely. Go ahead.

MS. LAYLOFF: Okay. And another thing that I brought with me, this happens to be my son's 14th birthday and he said, "Mom, since you can't be home with me, can you please get the vice president's autograph for me?"

(Applause.)

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: What's his name?

MS. LAYLOFF: Christopher.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Okay.

MS. LAYLOFF: And it's in your little red book.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Okay. All right. Well, go ahead and tell us your story while you're -- while I'm doing this.

MS. LAYLOFF: Well, a lot of people have said that FDA may be getting soft on regulation, but that really isn't so. Our goal is still to achieve compliance with the intended outcome of getting safe and effective products into the marketplace as quickly as possible and to keeping and getting bad products off the market. And our enforcement tools, like seizure, injunction, prosecution, civil penalties -- these things are still available to us and we will use them when necessary. But we're also doing a lot of other things to achieve compliance. We are partnering with our industry and we're conducting grassroots workshops to help improve our inspection process. We're putting on joint training with the FDA and the industry on our new medical device regulations. And we're being just more open with our firms and communicating better with them, both during our inspections and after our inspections.

These things that we're doing, the simple beauty of it all is that it just makes such good common sense.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, I saw an advertisement by a pharmaceutical company recently, that was touting all of the reasons why investors ought to put money into this company and one of the arguments that they made was that the approval times from the FDA had dropped dramatically, and I thought when I saw that advertisement in a national newspaper, well, this is clear evidence that FDA is making progress.

But then, you know, people see the kind of tragic incident involving those strawberries, and -- that were associated in one location with the -- one originating location with hepatitis, and they think, "Well, we sure hope FDA isn't streamlining in a way that lowers the protections that the public wants." I know that they're not, but can you speak to that issue?

MS. LAYLOFF: Well, I don't think we are doing that. Certainly, in the medical device area we're concentrating our forces on those firms that we know we have problems with. Just because we're doing things like partnering doesn't mean that we're so naive to think that there aren't any bad actors out there, and if we could partner with the good folks and really the -- at least for the medical device folks, this is the area that I work in, the majority of our firms do want to do the right thing, they want to get good products into the marketplace. Our medical device manufacturers here in the U.S. produce the best medical products in the world. And you know, we can partner with them. But, again, the folks that are out there that don't want to play by the rules, we'll use every enforcement tool available to prevent those bad products from getting out into the market.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Good for you, and what the evidence shows overwhelmingly is that partnering with companies that have an established record of following all the rules, they want to do the right thing, they just want to know how can we best do it, that frees up resources that can be focused on the bad actors. And there are always going to be some corner-cutters and people who don't want to do the right thing. If you have to apply the level of scrutiny appropriate for the bad actors to everybody, even if they're trying their best to do the right thing, then you're going to waste money, you're going to create a lot of unnecessary resentment, you're going to fritter away the public's confidence and tax dollars, and ultimately you're going to threaten the ability to go hard after the bad actor when you need to.

So focusing on the ones that really need that kind of hard-nosed approach is part and parcel of the reinvention strategy that gets the streamlining benefits by partnering when you have ways to assure yourself that the ones you're partnering with are continuing to do it in the correct way. That's basically what you're saying, isn't it?

MS. LAYLOFF: Exactly, sir.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: All right. Let's move on. John Mazur. Again, Tommy introduced us, so you're a state trooper in New Jersey. Tell me how the New Jersey State Police got hooked up with OSHA.

LIEUTENANT MAZUR: Well, it was kind of a natural marriage, as it were. Surprising it took so long to get there, but the State of New Jersey, the state police and the New Jersey Department of Transportation have for a long time been concerned with the safety of their workers on the highway, the private contractors, the laborers. New Jersey is a very densely populated state, and we do a lot of construction. During our peak periods, construction periods, we have over 10,000 workers out on the highway and with all the traffic going by you're at great risk.

So New Jersey DOT and the State Police came together and they formed a construction unit, which is my unit, and we get specialized training in how to move traffic safely through the work sites, how to set up the work zones correctly, and we've been very effective. But 25 percent of the workers killed on a highway construction sites are killed by cars coming into the work zone. The other 75 percent are killed by the operation of the construction site. So it was then that Bob Hewlitt, over here from OSHA, he was in the Parsippany office --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Okay.

LIEUTENANT MAZUR: I had to do that, you know.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah.

LIEUTENANT MAZUR: He contacted our office, my office, and we got together and we sat down and we looked at what the state police did and what OSHA was looking to do, and we had the manpower, we're on every construction site in New Jersey every day. He had a lot of regulations that we weren't aware of. I mean, there was common sense things that we would know, but we didn't know the nuts and bolts of OSHA. So they developed a training program for us that made us more aware of the common highway construction problems that workers face, and they gave us the training and we became their eyes and ears. In one year after the training, we intervened on 1700 hazards, with 1100 workers who were involved in these hazards. New Jersey -- the national average for workers killed on construction sites is 794. We had one in three years.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Wow, that is great. That's a great result. That's fantastic.

(Applause.)

That's really outstanding. And congratulations to you and to your OSHA partners. That's really a wonderful result.

We're running short on time here, and I want to get some questions before our time runs out.

Tommy, I hear that you were such a successful reinventor, I went down, we've talked several times before, and I heard that you were such a successful reinventor that you got promoted. Congratulations.

MR. ROLAND: Thank you.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Do you have any tips for me?

MR. ROLAND: No, sir.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, then tell --

MR. ROLAND: Do what you're doing.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: -- tell us what's new at the Miami International Airport.

MR. ROLAND: We're still rocking and rolling. We're having a lot of fun down there, getting things done. Okay, recently we just got notified that we got selected as a semi-finalist in the Innovations in Government Award. Remember that APIS system {Airline Passenger Information Systems} we showed you --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yeah.

MR. ROLAND: -- where the airlines send us the information on the passengers?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Right.

MR. ROLAND: One of our reinventors in the passenger flow group, John Tuzzle, first line immigration inspector, he said that the system wasn't working. So if the immigration inspectors don't think that APIS is working, we got a problem. So what we did was is we put him together with the wienies up at the data center --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Excuse me, what was that word?

MR. ROLAND: The people who are technologically advanced.

(Applause.)

MR. ROLAND: So he got together with the wienies and what they did was they made the immigration primary process a less cumbersome thing, and what that's done is that's improved the cycle time, just in INS alone, 38 percent. Okay. Now, the only down side to fixing this problem was that it crashed the mainframe. Not a good thing. What it did was it slowed down response time throughout the service. They couldn't export it throughout the United States until they were able to re-engineer that. But they brought people in from JFK, they brought people in from LA, you know, the inspectors, to take a look at this system, and everybody wants it now. It's only turned on in Miami.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, good for you.

MR. ROLAND: We've got that going on. We've got --- a couple weeks ago -- a couple months ago, excuse me, they started doing some reconstruction outside our big room down at Concourse E. We do more people through that one room in Customs, Agriculture, Immigration, than any place else in the government. Okay. And what happened was they put two conveyor belts right outside our front door, and what it did was it closed off our three of our six doors. People couldn't get out. It's like I can process them, but I can't get them out. What am I going to do with them?

So --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Where does the conveyor belt lead to?

MR. ROLAND: You know, that was --

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Go ahead, go ahead, I'm sorry.

MR. ROLAND: We sat down and we tried -- they're the conveyor belts for the quick check to take -- what we did was we sat down and we tried to re-engineer the flow of the passengers without, you know, without building anything. And we got into two heated sessions and it wasn't going anywhere because we realized that it was structural.

So we, through the lab, we were able to bring in the architects, people from Dade County, the people who sign the checks. And they were able to say four of the hardest words, "I made a mistake." And what they did was is they decided to move those conveyor belts about 90 feet so it improves the passenger flow, and it couples in with the other bad words, "It's going to cost money," but they realized that to get the people through, that's what they had to do.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, that's a great report. That's a great report. Now, when I went down there and saw a lot of the great things you were doing, you also showed me that system. You didn't tell me that it was all messed up at the time you showed it to me.

MR. ROLAND: Why should I?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I think I understand.

MR. ROLAND: It's in development.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: It's in development. Well, you're doing great and I want to compliment you and your colleagues again, and all these reinventors here, and please join me in thanking them today.

(Applause.)

Now, hold on a second. Let me -- I'm told we don't have much time, but we do have some time and I want to take some questions and whoever wants to go first, right in back there.

MS. : Where is (inaudible)?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Repeat that for the microphone.

MS. : The wage grade 4 employee, is he here today?

MS. RUIS: No, he's not.

MS. : That's a disappointment. It seems like that the reinvention process is done through people and the low-level people who have the ideas should be recognized and get to meet Al Gore.

(Applause.)

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: They may seek some other form of reward, I don't know. But I'll tell you what. I will -- we'll work together and I will make certain that this individual comes to the White House and gets suitably recognized and he will --

(Applause.)

And let's follow up on this, and I want to make sure that we introduce him to President Clinton also. I'll make sure that that happens.

Yes, right there.

MR. : Vice President, I'm Mike Department of Labor, and we've taken seriously your call to empower the front-line employees, and one of the problems we have is that as the employees are empowered many of them feel that their jobs are endangered. And I was wondering if you had any comments on that.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Yes, I do. Empowerment does not equal endangerment. It is intended and will give the employees who are armed with this power to make suggestions and participate in the change process the recognition that they deserve and absolutely, it is designed to benefit the customers and the employees by improving what they do and how they do it, and I guarantee that result.

Yes, right here.

MR. : Sir, my name is Chuck Fauna, from the National Security Agency. I've gone to several conferences. I asked this question earlier, in the executive session. I've gone to several conferences and I think it's very heartening to see the fact that the language is starting to be the same. What I hear is business orientation, process management, customer service, balanced score card, measures, et cetera. The ball is rolling and it's rolling fairly well. That's a compliment I think to you and to all of us in this room, perhaps.

What advice would you give to continue the ball rolling? What advice, what guidance would you give to us to carry away from here today?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, two bits of advice. Number one, I was impressed by Bill Johnson's advice to have patience, be persistent -- what was your third one?

MR. JOHNSON: Positive.

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: And stay positive about it. We are there for you. President Clinton and I will be there to back you up. If you encounter problems, let Bob Stone know, if you've got some terrible obstacle that can be removed, let Bob know.

Second piece of advice, use this book, the Blair House Papers, and as I mentioned before, use it as a wedge.

Now, let me say, we've got a question, I'm told, from Atlanta? Can you hear us there? If so, please ask your question.

MS. : Yes, good afternoon, Mr. Vice President. I'm Janice Pope, and I'm with the Regional Office of the Federal Aviation Administration. And my question is, it appears that there may be conflicts between the reinvention process and the President's Welfare to Work Initiative. For example, federal agencies may be reducing the number of clerical and administrative-type positions for reasons of right-sizing and other technological issues. Yet, the welfare to work initiative may require an increase in those types of jobs. Mr. Vice President, how can federal agencies comply with both initiatives and avoid what could be a possible conflict?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, first of all, nobody in the federal government should be any longer managing by FTE ceilings. We have now reached the point --

(Applause.)

We have now reached the point -- now, early in the process, OMB was correct in saying that the only way agencies could fall below the threshold was to pay attention to the total FTE count, but we've long since fallen below those thresholds and there ought to be no more management, either externally with the agency being given an FTE count or internally with an agency using FTE allocations within the department as a management tool. You should be managing by the budget and not by FTE count. So where an agency feels like a former welfare recipient can acquire the training appropriate to do a particular job that needs to be done within the budget that is allocated, that can be handled without in any way affecting the FTE count for the other employees that are there.

Let me take a question from Chicago.

MR. : Mr. Vice President, my name is Bob Koplan, I'm with the Regional Office of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and my question is, why do the national environmental laws and the approaches we use to implement them need to be reinvented after they've been so successful over the past 25 years?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: Well, for a couple of reasons. Number one, even if you are successful with -- in what you're doing with the formula that you have used, that doesn't mean that there are not lessons to learn and ways to improve.

Number two, in spite of the overwhelming public support for the laws protecting the environment, and I count myself as one of the strongest proponents of environmental protection, there is a perception that sometimes the effort to enforce these laws and regulations causes unnecessary red tape, unnecessary expense, and that some of the techniques that are now being innovated in Project XL, for example, some of the approaches to partnering that we talked about here earlier, some of the empowerment of employees down the ladder who have ideas on how to do things better, that these kinds of approaches can further improve what we're doing, reduce the level of pollution further while also reducing the burden of compliance with these laws.

Third point, because of our very success in protecting the environment, we are by definition now often going after increments of pollution that are tougher to get at. Non-point sources would be an example. Smaller sources that together add up to a lot. So if you're going after smaller sources, the burden of compliance according to the old ways that might be appropriate for a huge big factory may not be as appropriate for a smaller source of pollution. So how do you get at it? Well, you can reinvent the wheel or you can reinvent the government, according to these processes that are outlined in the Blair House Papers and that the front line people in EPA, for example, have been thinking about for years.

Let me -- time for just one more question here. Let me apologize to those who have not been able to ask a question, and I'm particularly apologetic to all the folks in Dallas and San Francisco. We have run out of time. We're just going to take one more quick one and then we're going to have to close. Yes, sir.

MR. : Yes, Mr. Vice President. What do you see the part of a labor/management partnerships in the reinvention revolution?

VICE PRESIDENT GORE: I see the labor/management partnerships as the real key to this. What I found in the federal employee unions when I began this task four years ago was enlightenment, good ideas, a commitment to positive change because they've been hearing from their members the same kind of things that I heard when I went to the town hall meetings at all these agencies and departments, and my own partnership with the leadership of these unions has been one of the most rewarding experiences I've had in my professional life, and I think that the labor/management partnerships in the various agencies and departments, with very few exceptions, have been extremely positive, they have resulted in a lot of improvements in the work place, saving of money, saving of harassment and time, to the point where sometimes I get reports now from unions that say that they came up with a hard disagreement recently and they forgot the dispute procedures. They haven't used them in so long because they'd been working it out in the context of this partnership.

That is a good sign, and I want to commend the public employee unions for the way they have approached this. We're going to continue strengthening these partnerships and we're going to insist that the managers across the board enter them and maintain them and improve them in the spirit in which they have been begun, because I think they represent the real key to this.

Let me close. I wish we had a lot more time but we don't. Let me thank all of you for your willingness to participate in this exercise, not just this session but the others, as well, and to those in the locations hooked up by satellite a special word of thanks for staying connected here and participating actively, we're very grateful to you. And to all federal employees who are participating and those who can hear the sound of my voice, this is an exercise that is critical to the future of our self-government.

In order to redeem the promise of representative democracy, we have to succeed at the task of reinventing our federal government. You should feel very proud of all the progress that's been made because of your efforts these last four years. But you know how much hard work remains to be done. You also know, I hope, how rewarding it is to begin to get some of the success stories that we have heard about here today. Let's keep it going. We're relying on you and Americans generally are relying on you. This is extremely important to the future of the United States of America. Thank you for what you are doing. We appreciate it.

(Applause.)

Thank you. Thank you very much.

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