Editor's Notebook

Timothy B. Clark It's not too late to sign up for "Excellence in Government '99," the only major conference this year on cutting-edge ideas for making government work better. This should be a terrific event, thanks to a dedicated band of your colleagues who have recruited prominent speakers and organized more than 40 sessions in four separate tracks. Government Executive is proud to have helped organize this conference. We see it as another means of informing federal managers about key trends affecting their work lives.

The ExcelGov conference, to be held July 13-15, merges two schools of federal management reform. It brings the "REGO" (reinventing government) movement, led by Vice President Al Gore, together with the quality management work going on at agencies for more than a decade, under the Office of Personnel Management's guidance.

Government Executive has been involved from the start with the REGO movement's Reinvention Revolution conferences, the third of which was held last year. The National Performance Review, a "virtual" organization whose budget and staffing were drawn from agencies throughout government, needed help in organizing a forum that would allow federal reinvention pioneers to exchange ideas. We teamed with NPR (now called the National Partnership for Reinventing Government), the Brookings Institution and other groups to mount events that attracted up to 700 people.

Innovations pioneered by the REGO movement at "reinvention laboratories" throughout government were more episodic than the more disciplined efforts for continuous improvement spawned by the total quality management movement. TQM has an organizational base at OPM, including the well-established Presidential Quality Awards program. From 1987 to 1997, OPM sponsored an annual National Conference on Federal Quality as a means of teaching the management methods embodied in TQM and the awards program.

Now, OPM and NPR, led respectively by Janice Lachance and Morley Winograd on behalf of Gore, have joined hands to support ExcelGov '99. They, and the leaders of nine other organizations involved in planning the event, hope it can spread the word about what's working to make government operate more effectively. Conference sessions will cover developing human capacity, focusing on customers, measuring performance and getting results, and building business-like government. The full program -and a pre-conference survey -is posted on the conference Web site: www.excelgov.com.

Meantime, the reinvention brain trust bid an emotional farewell on April 29 to one of its leaders, Bob Stone, a celebrated Defense Department reformer who became NPR's "energizer-in-chief," as his business card put it. Gore; Winograd; Lachance; reinvention chronicler David Osborne; Navy Secretary Richard Danzig; David O. Cooke, dean of Pentagon administrators; veteran reinventor Greg Woods, who's now shaking up the Education Department's Office of Student Financial Assistance; former Gore adviser Elaine Kamarck; and many others gathered at the Old Executive Office Building to send Stone off to semi-retirement in California.

Gore was among speakers who recited some of Stone's common-sense, money-saving ideas that epitomized the REGO movement. But it was Stone's spirit, his energy, his faith in the ability of the rank and file to improve agency operations, that will be most sorely missed.

Tim sig2 5/3/96
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