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Any possibility of achieving success in reforming, or reinventing, government will be founded on bipartisan cooperation.
Making the federal bureaucracy more effective, more efficient, and less costly has been a serious endeavor of mine since I was first elected to Congress. Throughout the years, I have been able to steer legislation through Capitol Hill to make an improvement here and an improvement there. But for the first time in many years, I see a critical mass beginning to swell, a synergy taking place--a positive reaction, I believe, that is the result of Americans who want, and who are working for, serious change.
Since 1981, I have regularly introduced legislation to create a new Hoover-type commission--a commission to examine the organization and operations of the federal government. I even got a provision authorizing such a commission enacted in 1988. However, President Bush chose not to implement that provision out of concern that the resulting recommendations would likely be ignored by Congress. I must admit, there is some legitimacy to that concern.
So, when I reintroduced the legislation in April of last year, I included a provision modeled on the successful military base closing law. Under that law, Congress must vote up or down on the recommendations made by a bipartisan base-closing commission. There are no amendments allowed to the commission's recommendations, and the recommendations cannot get stuck or watered down in Congressional committees. A week after introducing this legislation, I was able to get a nonbinding sense-of-the-Senate resolution adopted by unanimous consent that endorses the idea of creating a commission on federal government reform "to examine the organization and operations of the federal government."
The sense-of-the-Senate resolution called for "developing recommendations to improve governmental performance while minimizing costs." The commission would be charged with recommending ways to "define program missions in terms of measurable outcomes, emphasizing quality of service," to "reform personnel systems...increasing managerial discretion, in return for greater accountability for results." The commission would also work to consolidate and streamline departments, agencies, and programs where possible, to reduce costs, minimize hierarchy, and focus responsibility. The resolution specified that "Congress should be mandated to consider" the commission's recommendations.
This past January, I reintroduced similar legislation on the first day of the new Congress. This legislation was called the Reinventing Government Act. It included provisions asking the commission for recommendations to reduce the size of the federal workforce through attrition, to "promote the application of new information technologies to improve management," and to "consolidate …