- May 1, 2000
On the current structure of government: I think this may have been an original David Osborne phrase: "We've got good people working in bad systems." But it's not just little bad systems, it's that the whole structure of government is not responsive to the current state of our economy.
We have very narrow specialties, lots of bureaucracy, control and command systems, people in very tightly and rigidly prescribed job descriptions and thousands of job classifications. We've created this assembly line form of government.
We have a government designed in one era trying to govern in a new economy era. People of good will are running faster and faster inside systems that are only making incremental and marginal changes. As we look at e-commerce, e-government and the new economy, I would suggest that governments generally, the federal government in particular, need to totally reconsider the outdated structure of government.
On bureaucracy: Bureaucracy is a good thing in one way. It makes it difficult for bad people to do really bad things. To make sure people didn't abuse discretion, there was an easy way to do it, which was to just eliminate discretion, because if people don't have discretion they can't abuse it, of course. That makes it difficult for bad people to be really bad-it makes it very difficult for good people to be very good. Now we have to look at how we can change that system. We developed in government a system that operates for our convenience, not the convenience of our customers. We need to respect much more the rights of individuals.
On how the Internet can be used to change government service: I don't think any of us appreciate how much we will be able to customize government. We will be able to tailor for every individual in the United States a specific set of results, applications and information about their government. This will be a truly citizen-based government where the citizen can ask for and organize the information they want.
They can just do it with clicks. It will remarkably change the relationship between government and people. It will allow you to go right through the bureaucracy, and right to the information you want, do the business and ask for information back. We are beginning to see the power of the Internet in changing these issues.
On where the Internet will generate cost savings: Total transaction costs, both for the person doing the work on the government side and the person filling out the application. It's a substantial number. To allow all that to be done seamlessly in one event is a huge cost savings for the government.
Ford is going to save $1,000 a car from online purchasing-$1,000 a car! Think of the scale of the resources available inside government as we use the same technique to provide highly tailored, highly efficient and more cost-effective government.
On how civil servants will be affected: Employees will truly have discretion and authority because what the tools will do is require that government allow its employees to respond to highly tailored requests for services.