Gore team hands out last reinvention awards

After seven years, the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) will mark the end of its work Thursday by honoring the IRS and the General Services Administration with the last of 1,378 Hammer Awards. Hammer Awards recognize federal employees who find innovative ways to make government more efficient and cost-effective. The awards have been some of the most visible undertakings of Vice President Al Gore's reinventing government movement, begun in 1993. The IRS will be honored for its massive effort to improve customer service by revamping its business practices and modernizing its information technology. At GSA, the FirstGov team will be recognized for creating a federal Web portal connecting users to every government Web page available on the Internet. "The FirstGov team and the IRS have both really captured the spirit of reinvention through their initiatives," said Morley Winograd, director of NPR. In 1998, Congress passed the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act in response to calls for better service by the IRS. The act required the agency to implement 71 new or modified taxpayer rights provisions. Since then, the IRS has replaced its antiquated taxpayer database, upgraded internal communications systems and improved customer service to taxpayers through a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week telephone service and electronic filing. GSA teamed up with industry to create a Web portal that allows citizens to access every government Web page on the Internet. Between 50 and 100 million pages can be accessed via the site. Users can also conduct online transactions with agencies, such as reserving a campsite at a National Park. "This ceremony marks the end of seven exceptional years of innovation and the beginning of reinvention as a permanent part of government culture," said Winograd. NPR will close its doors on Jan. 20. Employees will return to their home agencies, and NPR's office space will return to GSA. The final Hammer Awards ceremony will be held at the headquarters of the U.S. Mint in Washington.
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