Spotlight on Reinvention

At a campaign rally today in Portland, Ore., President Clinton released The Best Kept Secrets in Government, the fourth annual report of Vice President Gore's National Performance Review.

One of the reasons those secrets are so well kept is that Gore and President Clinton have decided not to place too much emphasis on their reinvention efforts during this fall's presidential campaign. This morning, however, the President made reinvention the focus. "We have proved that we can make government work," Clinton said at an appearance in downtown Portland. Since 1993, the President said, savings from reinvention-related reforms have totaled $118 billion.

In the new report, Gore emphasizes the Administration's effort to cut 240,000 federal jobs in the past four years, calling it "the largest, swiftest government-wide cut in the history of United States." While Republicans have noted that the majority of the cuts have come from Defense downsizing, Gore argues the downsizing effort is "not just a post-Cold War defense reduction; every department except Justice has become smaller."

Gore concedes, however, that the Administration has not met its goal of targeting the cuts at "excess layers of management" in agencies headquarters staffs and in overhead operations such as procurement and personnel. "So far, the personnel reductions have occurred pretty much across the board, because we were trying to avoid layoffs," he writes in the report. "We'll have to retrain and reassign some people to get them into the right jobs."

The General Accounting Office concluded in a recent report that most agencies failed to meet the goal of cutting management slots, and those that did so often simply reclassified supervisors as non-supervisors.

Gore's report is divided into four sections, each describing a different "secret:"
  • Common Sense Has Come to the Federal Government cites several examples of procurement reforms, including a new contract with Federal Express under which agencies can send a three-pound package overnight for $3.62. The retail cost of such delivery is $27.
  • Government is Serving People Better focuses on the NPR's customer service initiatives, especially the improvement in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response to disaster victims.
  • Government is in Partnership with Business highlights the Administration's effort to cooperate with businesses in revising federal regulations. Since 1992, Gore notes, the Environmental Protection Agency has more than tripled business membership in its "Partners for the Environment" program.
  • Government is Partnering with Communities says that President Clinton has asked Congress to combine 271 separate grants and programs into 27 "performance partnerships," such as a pilot project involving federal agencies and the state of Oregon known as the "Oregon Option."
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