Magazine article American Banker

Gore Proposals Should Sit Well with Business

Magazine article American Banker

Gore Proposals Should Sit Well with Business

Article excerpt

In their "reinventing government" package, President Clinton and Vice President Gore are applying business thinking that is bound to please private-sector critics.

"Today, the central issue we face is not what government does, but how it works," the Vice President's task force said in its 169-page final report last week.

This is, at best, a dubious proposition for a government that plans to redistribute $1.42 trillion in taxpayer dollars this year and borrow another $263 billion from the public to top off the tank of government service.

The budget exceeds the entire gross domestic product of Germany, the world's third-largest economy. Today's federal government is run by 2.1 million civilian employees, 800,000 postal workers, and 1.8 million military personnel. They are largest single segment of the U.S. work force.

Defense Cuts

Those in the military are already getting squeezed by Clinton's shrinking defense budget, and an overhaul of the U.S. Postal Service is sending middle managers packing.

But federal civilian workers have been comfortably immune from the sweeping job losses experienced in the corporate sector from IBM to General Motors.

So the Clinton administration deserves credit for acknowledging that the way the government does business is in need of overhaul, not because of the any shortcomings among the individual employees but because a ponderous and inefficient system has been built up over the years.

12% Reduction Sought

"Counting all personnel, budget, procurement, accounting, auditing, and headquarters staff, plus supervisory personnel in field offices, there are roughly 700,000 federal employees whose job it is to manage, control, check up on, or audit others," said the Gore task force report. "This is one-third of all federal civilian employees."

The report called for eliminating through buyouts and early retirement some 250,000 federal jobs over the next five years, a 12% reduction that would bring the total civilian work force below two million for the first time since 1966. …

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