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The Quote/Unquote Archive

The Quote/Unquote Archive

The Quote/Unquote Archive

December 30
"When you think you're done, you've completed all your tests, you ought to continue to monitor and test."
-Y2K czar John Koskinen, on staying alert to Y2K-related problems.

December 29
"We're going the extra mile to make sure our people's pay isn't affected."
-Pentagon spokesman Adm. Craig Quigley, on why the Defense Finance and Accounting Service Web site will be taken offline temporarily over the Y2K weekend.

December 28
"Part of what he is doing, believe it or not, is working on the 2001 budget."
-White House spokeswoman Julia Payne on what President Clinton is doing this week.

December 23
"FAA inspectors visiting the North Pole found Santa and sleigh in compliance with all Federal Aviation Regulations and Airworthiness Directives."
-From a Federal Aviation Administration press release on the agency's approval of Santa's Christmas flight.

December 22
"Fortunately, we began early and finished early."
-Social Security Administration chief Kenneth Apfel, on the agency's Y2K efforts.

December 21
"It is troubling to any American, much less the Lees, to have a system where government officials can systematically leak for their own purposes and ends and not be held accountable."
-Brian Sun, attorney for Wen Ho Lee, the nuclear scientist indicted for allegedly mishandling top-secret data at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

December 20
"Slow is the understatement of the year."
-Ronald Stern, president of the Patent Office Professionals Association, on the speed of a new computerized search tool at the Patent and Trademark Office.

December 17
"We actually moved one of those old punch-card readers from one place to another to support a depot. And just, oh, God, it breaks my heart to think we did that."
-Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre, on some of the stopgap technology decisions caused by Y2K.

December 16
"It is yours."
-Former President Jimmy Carter at the ceremony marking the U.S. handover of the Panama Canal to Panama.

December 15
"I want to thank the thousands of dedicated men and women of the federal government, who spent long hours, late nights, and many weekends, getting us ready for the New Year."
-President Clinton.

December 14
"People want a faster Internet and they believe the private sector, not the government, will give it to them."
-Frank Luntz, of Luntz Research.

December 13
"The fruits of our reinvention effort are beginning to be felt by the public."
-Morley Winograd, director of the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, on the results of the first-ever governmentwide customer satisfaction survey.

December 10
"The [government] spokesman's job has become too politicized."
-Veteran journalist Bernard Kalb, who was the State Department's spokesman for two years in the Reagan administration.

December 9
"DoD is tough to attack. It's easier [to go after other agencies] because you don't do anything about it."
-Computer security expert Alan Paller to civilian agencies, on why their computer systems may be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than the Defense Department's systems.

December 8
"Unfortunately, none of us say, 'Hooray, I want to pay my taxes.' "
-Barbara Everitt Bryant, managing director of the American Customer Satisfaction Index, on why a comparison between satisfaction with the IRS and private sector companies is not completely fair.

December 7
"If the U.S. Congress were a business, we probably would have gone out of business."
-Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., D-Tenn., on this year's budget process. Ford was responding to colleagues' unfavorable comparisons of federal agencies to the private sector.

December 6
"NASA has proven over and over that we should have faith in them."
-A 19-year-old space fan, quoted by the Associated Press, as he and others waited Friday to hear word of whether the Mars Polar Lander reached its target.

December 3
"Politically they are almost impossible to achieve."
-Defense Secretary William Cohen, on base closures.

December 2
"I don't read GAO reports every night."
-Former federal executive Renny DiPentima, on how his job is different now that he works in the private sector.

December 1
"No one has done an entire closet cleaning on this and we don't know what we'll find."
-A senior administration official, on how many federal regulations may inhibit electronic commerce.

November 30
"The decentralized performance appraisal systems of today, for all of their faults, are much more effective than the 'top-down' mandated system of the past."
-Janice Lachance, director of the Office of Personnel Management, in a letter to the editor of Government Executive.

November 24
"The legislation offers the agency the management and administrative autonomy it needs to provide better service and be more responsive to our customers."
-Patent and Trademark Office Commissioner Q. Todd Dickinson, on a new law making his agency a performance-based organization.

November 23
"We have come a long way since we began examining this enormous technological challenge four years ago."
-Rep. Stephen Horn, R-Calif., on the government's progress toward addressing the Y2K computer problem.

November 22
"I expect to see the overthrow of the U.S. government in my lifetime."
-Richard L. Brandt, the senior contributing editor of Upside magazine, on one effect of the Internet.

November 19
"If anybody here can say with an honest expression on their face they know what's in that bill, God save them."
-Rep. Gil Gutknecht, R-Minn., on the $385 billion spending package passed by the House Thursday.

November 18
"Even if it's 0.001 percent, it sets a precedent we need here. It recognizes there is fat in government."
-Rep. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on the importance of including an across-the-board spending cut in this year's budget agreement.

November 17
"The responsibility to decide on the organizational structure part of GSA is mine."
-GSA Administrator David Barram on negotiations over the fate of eight Federal Supply Service warehouses.

November 16
"We hope that night will be relatively boring."
-Y2K czar John Koskinen on what it will be like in the federal Y2K Information Coordination Center on New Year's Eve.

November 15
"You say you want a partnership ... but your letter and actions are not consistent with partnership behavior in the least way."
-AFGE President Bobby Harnage to GSA Administrator David Barram in a letter responding to a breakdown in negotiations over the fate of eight GSA warehouses.

November 10
"Any business or government that has been taking a wait-and-see approach to the Y2K issue is basically running out of time."
-Clinton administration Y2K czar John Koskinen.

November 9
"Fed-bashing is a sport here and I refuse to sit by quietly and let it happen as many others are doing."
-Gloria Flora, supervisor of Nevada's Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, in her resignation statement.

November 8
"We have to at least eliminate acquisition policies that try to put all of the risk on our partners in the private sector."
-Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre, on avoiding practices that harm the defense industrial base.

November 5
"Thousands of Americans representing our nation abroad still face an unacceptable level of risk from terrorist attacks and other threats."
-The Overseas Presence Advisory Panel, in a report released Friday.

November 4
"Small businesses are facing a crisis in federal contracting."
-Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez, D-N.Y., on the effect of contract bundling.

November 3
"Governing is about making choices and selecting priorities that will serve the national interest. By choosing an across-the-board cut, the Congress has failed to meet that responsibility."
-President Clinton.

November 3
"The president's leaving town, 22 senators are leaving town. My guess is we'll get out of here Nov. 10."
-House Speaker Denny Hastert, R-Ill., on the expected adjournment date for Congress.

November 2
"Disappointed, frustrated, yet optimistic."
-Andrew Fortin, manager of privatization policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, on how the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act has left the chamber feeling.

November 1
"I won't ask whether you're getting the ponies ready."
-Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md., to a Postal Service executive, on USPS contingency plans for Y2K-related computer failures.

October 29
"I'm not for dismantling the government."
-Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, on privatization and outsourcing.

October 28
"Across the board is across the board."
-A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., on why GOP leaders decided to apply an across-the-board cut to congressional salaries.

October 27
"The threat is out there that government travel agencies will go bankrupt, or have to walk away from the business."
-Phyllis Reagan, president of the Society of Travel Agents in Government, on the effect of cuts in the commissions airlines pay travel agents.

October 26
"It's particularly galling, given the fact that they want everyone else to suffer, but have put themselves in a position where their pay raise is exempt."
-White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart, on congressional Republicans' call for cuts in government spending.

October 25
"Who doubts that at least 1 percent of government spending gets wasted?"
-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas.

October 22
"The growth of the Internet has rendered outmoded the business model NTIS uses to carry out its core mission."
-Deputy Commerce Secretary Robert Mallett, on the Commerce Department's decision to close the National Technical Information Service.

October 21
"Ultimately, agencies bear the primary responsibility for maintaining the security of their information systems."
-Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md., on the National Institute of Standards and Technology's role as the coordinating agency on federal computer security policy.

October 20
"I'm not aware that the first lady has been elected to make a decision on this question."
-Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon, on First Lady Hillary Clinton's call for the Navy to close a bombing range on a Puerto Rican island.

October 19
"Too big, too bloated and too bureaucratic."
-Presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole, on the state of the federal government.

October 18
"The notion of a grandiloquent government has been pretty much eliminated."
-James P. Pinkerton, former domestic policy adviser to Presidents Reagan and Bush.

October 15
"You're not my favorite people."
-CIA Director George Tenet, to reporters gathered at the agency's headquarters for a ceremony to promote a new film about the CIA, "In the Company of Spies."

October 14
"Because this employer-employee relationship has been less than perfect on important issues such as pay, health insurance, respect for full collective bargaining and privatization."
-Bobby Harnage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, on why the union is withholding an endorsement of Vice President Al Gore's presidential candidacy.

October 13
"Turning back the clock is not something people do every day."
-GSA Administrator David Barram on the reversal of the agency's decision to close eight supply warehouses.

October 12
"Unattractive, uninviting and off-putting."
-The Merit Systems Protection Board, on the typical federal job vacancy announcement.

October 8
"The one clear effect of Community Builders is the dramatic increase in the number of people at HUD not part of a specific program, engaged in customer relations, and owing their jobs to the department's political management."
-Susan Gaffney, inspector general at the Housing and Urban Development Department, criticizing HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo's customer service initiative.

October 7
"Too often, my party has confused the need for limited government with a disdain for government itself."
-Presidential candidate George W. Bush.

October 6
"It's as if we had some Cabinet-level agency called the Department of Secrecy that nobody has ever heard of."
-Steven Aftergood of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists on the $5 billion a year agencies spend classifying documents.

October 5
"I know that it was a scary, frustrating, and confusing situation for many of you."
-Commerce Secretary William Daley, to employees at the Herbert Hoover Building in Washington, where a fire and a radiation leak closed the building on Friday.

October 4
"Information is a dangerous thing."
-Andrew Fortin, manager of privatization policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, on agencies' lists of civil servants' jobs that could be outsourced.

October 1
"I see ... the best possible circumstance: an FBI director that I trust to speak out on what he believes to be right and tell me things as he sees it."
-Attorney General Janet Reno, chiding journalists for portraying her relationship with FBI Director Louis Freeh as tense.

September 30
"You don't have to wear a uniform or go to war to be a patriot. But you should, at some point in your life, seize an opportunity to put the country's interests before your own."
-Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

September 29
"We don't shut down. The president shuts down."
-House Majority Whip Tom DeLay, R-Texas, on whether GOP posturing would lead to a government shut down.

September 28
"I won't have any staff in the field anymore, but I'll have a bunch of good computers."
-Elinor Hunter, chief of the Systems Staff and Education Service at the Veterans Benefits Administration, on automation and downsizing efforts at the agency.

September 27
"Why is it that the people who want to spend less are blamed for closing down the government?"
-A former House Republican aide on the lingering effects of the 1995 government shutdown on the GOP.

September 24
"The truth is, there's important work to be done, and only government can do it. The cynics and demagogues who tell you, 'The era of big government is over,' they're lying to you!"
-Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo

September 23
"They're probably going to take their credit card and go down to Wal-Mart."
-Tom Kentfield, manager of government operations for Polaroid Corp., on his customers' likely reaction to the closure of GSA supply warehouses.

September 22
"If the polygraph requirement significantly diminishes the ability of the labs to retain and attract employees, then the department will have caused what no foreign adversary and no spy has ever been able to accomplish."
-Scientist Steven Aftergood, on the Energy Department's plan to require employees to take lie-detector tests.

September 21
"They're having trouble adjusting to a government that's a tougher manager and a more accurate payer."
-Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, on the health care industry's reaction to better financial management in the Medicare program.

September 20
"We will become a joke."
-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on what will happen to the State Department if Congress doesn't provide more foreign affairs funding.

September 17
"I think we have to be honest and acknowledge that we're not going to meet [spending] caps, if for no other reason than we've had some emergencies.
-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss.

September 16
"The aroma of turkey."
-Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, responding to a reporter's question about what Congress would need as a catalyst to resolve the issues surrounding the fiscal 2000 appropriations bills.

September 15
"If the only reason that it is being terminated is because it's not self-sustaining, that's not a good enough reason."
-Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., on the Commerce Department's plan to close the National Technical Information Service.

September 14
"You can't just cut employees randomly and think you're going to have a better workforce at the end of the day."
-Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.

September 13
"Defense's numbers are about as consistent as the stock market."
-Rep. Stephen Horn, R-Calif., on the Defense Department's frequent revisions of its number of mission-critical computer systems.

September 10
"We are going to be here with a continuing resolution for some period of time."
-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, on the fiscal 2000 appropriations process.

September 9
"The thing we have learned out of Y2K is in addition to the tremendous productivity we get out of computers, there is a vulnerability that will be with us."
-Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, chairman of the Senate's Y2K committee.

September 8
"What they've actually done is just decrease inspections."
-Peter Lurie, a medical researcher with Public Citizen, on the Clinton Administration's reinvention of OSHA.

September 7
"Republicans cannot look like they're itching for a government shutdown."
-Richard E. May, former Republican staff director of the House Budget Committee, on the GOP's strategy in upcoming budget negotiations.

September 3
"The 50-, 60-year-old person stationed overseas for months, away from family and children, that person could be especially vulnerable to this kind of effort."
-Ed Curran, counterintelligence director for the Energy Department, on foreign spies seducing DOE scientists into revealing national security secrets.

September 2
"We aren't so different after all: public or private, federal, state, or local, there are common problems-and common answers."
-From a new National Partnership for Reinventing Government report on creating balanced performance measures.

September 1
"The question is whether it is the right slogan for today's 18-to-24-year-olds."
-Army Secretary Louis Caldera on the service's "Be all that you can be" catch phrase.

August 31
"Running the government isn't that different from doing a major, major movie."
-Bill Hillsman, who created TV ads that helped elect Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, on the prospects of a presidential candidacy by actor Warren Beatty.

August 30
"This department has for 40 years virtually defined cutting-edge large scale computation and its application to complex problems in science."
-Energy Department Undersecretary Ernest Moniz.

August 27
"The IG concept today is in desperate trouble."
-Paul Light, founding director of the Brookings Institution's Center for Public Service and author of a book on inspectors general.

August 26
"The Y2K conversion is a major effort that has required and is continuing to require employees to perform not just their regularly scheduled work, but overtime work on nights and weekends as well."
-The Office of Personnel Management on its decision to restore Y2K workers' unused annual leave.

August 25
"The contractors can bring IT people and ADP people to the table, but where are they going to find, say, an Army logistician with 30 years of Army logistics system background and training?"
-John Morris, president of Local 1763 of the National Federation of Federal Employees in St. Louis.

August 24
"No one, including the director, is exempt from compliance with these rules, no matter how busy they are and no matter how arduous are the demands of the position."
-Former CIA Director John Deutch, whose security clearances were suspended after he wrote classified documents on non-secure computers.

August 23
"In the desert. . . . I heard a lot of bellyaching-bellyaching from pantywaists who said, 'The only reason I joined the military was to go to college, I didn't join the military to get shot at.'"
-Rep. Stephen Buyer, R-Ind., a Gulf War veteran and chairman of the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee.

August 20
"We do a darn good job of defending the fortress."
-National Finance Center Director John Ortego, on safeguarding the computer systems that administer the Thrift Savings Plan.

August 19
"Each year, we get reports from agencies, the media and the GAO detailing how many billions of dollars the government wastes. We bring the responsible agency up here and fuss at them, but then everyone goes back to business as usual."
-Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson, R-Tenn.

August 18
"What's most important is that today government works better, more efficiently and more cost-effectively."
-Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Linda Ricci, on allegations that the administration has inflated cost savings estimates for Vice President Al Gore's reinventing government initiative.

August 17
"It's simply frightening to think about the possibility of government bureaucrats snooping in our e-mail."
-House Majority Leader Dick Armey, R-Texas, on the Clinton administration's plan to beef up the nation's computer security.

August 16
"Sound management dictates that we cut our losses and recognize the technologically advanced environment we live in."
-Commerce Secretary William Daley on closing the National Technical Information Service.

August 13
"Twenty-five years ago there were three [TV] networks and AT&T. Now there are thousands of companies."
-An FCC official on how the agency's oversight role has changed.

August 12
"I don't want this to be known as the department of excuses for not dealing with workers who have been harmed."
-Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, who has called for an investigation into reports workers at a DOE facility in Kentucky were exposed to cancer-causing plutonium.

August 11
"It may well be time for them to do so, but that is a question for the Congress or the Executive, not the Judiciary, to decide."
-D.C. Circuit Appeals Court Judge Douglas Ginsburg, on whether agencies should maintain electronic recordkeeping systems.

August 10
"I don't know of anybody that's looking for the so-called train wreck."
-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., predicting that Congress and the White House would avert a budget crisis and government shutdown this year.

August 9
"Here's my view of government: Government's role is to create an environment in which there is risk-taking."
-George W. Bush

August 6
"We reduce. We recycle. We do everything we can in order to reduce costs, but there comes a point where you've done all the cost-cutting you can."
-Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Mike Finley on the $600 million repair backlog at the park.

August 5
"I find it astonishing that the Supreme Court of Mongolia has an official Web site, but the U.S. Supreme Court still does not."
-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

August 4
"The government's measure of success in dealing with performance problems is not and should not be simply the number of employees it fires."
-From a new Merit Systems Protection Board study of federal performance management.

August 3
"The key characteristics of an SES position are the executive leadership responsibilities, and therefore selection criteria should focus primarily on these qualifications."
-From OPM's proposed regulations on SES appointments.

August 2
"With budget surpluses projected for the near future, the rationale for increasing federal employees' retirement contributions is no longer valid."
-Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md.

July 30
"If we're serious about the size of government, moving chairs around the deck or balls on the table that contain the same number of dollars doesn't do anything."
-Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., on pork-barrel projects.

July 29
"It's extremely important to the American people that their IRS information, that the ability to run an air-traffic control system, that the Social Security system, that all of these computer systems be safe and secure."
-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger.

July 28
"I think public service is one of the greatest undertakings anyone can pursue."
-Attorney General Janet Reno.

July 27
"It's OK to have fun in the Marine Corps."
-Gen. James L. Jones, the new commandant of the Marines.

July 26
"Any broad, grand strategic doctrine for defining the 'whys' of American military involvement will collapse under the pressure of events."
-Anthony H. Cordesman, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

July 23
"Computers by themselves cannot launch nuclear weapons."
-Adm. Richard W. Mies, commander in chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, allaying fears of Y2K-induced launches.

July 22
"If agencies examine the economic impacts of their regulations on real people more carefully, I believe they will develop more effective and less wasteful regulation."
-Robert Hahn, director of the AEI-Brookings Joint Center on Regulatory Studies.

July 21
"We can't be giving you a blank check to buy aircraft."
-Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va., to Defense Secretary William Cohen on possible cuts in the F-22 fighter program.

July 20
"It's exceedingly difficult in government, frankly, to be innovative, because when you innovate you make mistakes, and government has a very low threshold for mistakes."
-Outgoing Veterans Health Administration chief Kenneth Kizer.

July 19
"It's 30 years in the future. We'll be out of office. Leave it to the civil servants. They'll still be here."
-Edward David, science adviser to President Nixon, on the reaction of White House officials to his warning of the potential for a Year 2000 computer problem.

July 16
"We are going to be in the middle of these procurement decisions."
-House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., vowing to get more involved in choices about new weapons systems.

July 15
"At what point do you stop contracting out and say that maybe government isn't as inefficient?"
-Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., on problems with oversight of Medicare contractors.

July 14
"If that's such a great idea for the IRS, what about everyone else?"
-Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., on extending civil service reforms at the Internal Revenue Service to other agencies.

July 13
"The perception is that the government is 'the' government, not 'my' government."
-Pollster Peter Hart on a new poll showing declining public trust in government.

July 12
"An approved period of time in a nonpay and nonwork status that interrupts a basic workday . . . for the purpose of permitting employees to eat or engage in permitted personal activities."
-Office of Personnel Management definition of lunch break.

July 9
"Don't let the door hit you on the way out."


-Bobby L. Harnage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, on rumors that VA Secretary Togo West might be leaving.

July 8
"You name a safety code, the Pentagon doesn't meet it."
-Tom Fontana, a spokesman for the Pentagon renovation program.

July 7
"The budget pressures within the international affairs accounts have made people more aggressively parochial than ever. If you don't have the money to do your job, then you look around for someone else's money."
-J. Brian Atwood, outgoing director of the Agency for International Development.

July 6
"Anyone who thinks the armed forces are a totally autocratic and authoritarian institution has probably never seen them at close range."
-Retired Army general and current "drug czar" Barry McCaffrey.

July 2
"I just want my leadership to come to grips with the fact that if we're not going to take the money from defense [to increase domestic spending], then we have to raise the caps."
-Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., on congressional efforts to lift spending caps.

July 1
"It's not something that we deal with every day, but it's important."
-Sen. Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., to Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, after Summers interpreted a question about the Government Performance and Results Act as actually being about the Year 2000 computer problem.