Senator recognized for improving efficiency

A Washington-based nonprofit organization recognized Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, for his leadership in the public sector Monday.

The Partnership for Public Service, which merged with the Private Sector Council in 2004, celebrated the joint venture at a dinner for hundreds who work in, or with, the federal government.

A short video, which Voinovich joked resembled old campaign advertisements, featured Office of Management and Budget deputy director Clay Johnson, Government Accountability Office chief David Walker, and Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, heralding Voinovich's virtues. Akaka called him "the human capital champion of the Senate."

Voinovich credited the private sector with helping him improve efficiency first as mayor of Cleveland from 1979 to 1988, then as governor of Ohio from 1990 to 1998, as well as in his current role, which he assumed in 1999. As senator, he sits on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and is chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management.

As Cleveland's mayor, Voinovich asked city employees how they could do their jobs better. "Our image as a city was awful," he said. Voinovich then implemented more than 500 recommendations and saved $200 million before he left office.

He also enlisted the volunteer support of local residents and convinced advertising agencies to donate their time to advising the city on how to improve its image.

Voinovich tried to apply those lessons on the state level as governor. Again, the private sector helped: McKinsey and Co. completed an audit for the state at no cost. Voinovich said he reduced the state workforce by 17 percent through attrition and not layoffs.

Most recently, Voinovich has tried to apply the lessons in the federal sector. "I was naïve to think we could change the culture of the federal workforce," he said, adding that when he first became senator, OMB paid little attention to management of agencies, something he said the Bush administration has changed.

Voinovich said his next project would be to improve efficiency at the Defense Department. "Nobody has taken the time to really get involved," he said.

The Partnership for Public Service also recognized Home Depot Chief Executive Officer Bob Nardelli, who commended the retailer's suppliers for contributing to reducing costs and improving efficiency.

Rep. David Dreier, R-Ca., who presented the award to Nardelli, said of public-private relationships: "It is so clear that this kind of partnership is the way of the future."

The Private Sector Council, which has given out leadership awards for 20 years, has previously recognized Vice President Dick Cheney and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn.

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