President Hammer & Co. Cambridge, Mass.

THEY'RE EXACTLY THE SAME. THE reengineering efforts are not unique to banks; it's going on in industries throughout the country. Basically what we're seeing is that at the executive level, they're taking out a clean sheet of paper and radically reconsidering the way work gets done.

The same issues apply whether it's the government or the private sector. The factors that determine success or failue are commitment and leadership.

Reengineering entails vast change in an organization. People's jobs will change and that means resistance. If leadership is not proactive, this resistance will kill the effort. The key is the leadership and the follow-through.

We will see how serious the government is and whether they continue to push through the effort from the top level. About 70% of the time, reengineering efforts fail. That happens when the top executives have no stomach to see it through. Time will tell what will happen to Gore's plan to reinvent government.


Former chairman Citicorp New York

THERE ARE VERY FEW PARALLELS. The basic problem with Gore's plan to reinvent government is that the hasn't attacked the main issue. What he's done is lay out procedures to make the things the government does more efficient. What he should be thinking about is what government is doing now that it should not be doing. The helium reserve is a perfect example. It was originally concieved as a plan to reserve helium in case we needBd it to operate balloons. It costs millions of dollars.

The government has got to get out of a lot of these things. That's what successful businesses have done. Look at General Electric. It's sold off hundreds of businesses.

Every other country in the world is privatizing, yet we still have the TVA [Tennessee Valley Authority]. These are the kinds of things that Gore's plan is missing.


Executive vice president Northwest Corp. Minneapolis

THE BEST BANKS ARE LOOKING AT reengineering through the eyes of the customer. They ask themselves how will this reengineering affect the quality of service to my customers.

They are not only concerned about cost. If you only attack cost, you will eventually get deterioration in quality of service to the customer. So, you turn it around and improve service while at the same time cutting costs.

And you can't just cut staff. If all the government does is cut staffing levels without redefining asnd reengineering what people do, it's not going anywhwere. Gore should ask himself: How can we do it differently? This is how we've always done it, but is it the best way?

If I were Gore, I'd find some of the best-managed companies at reducing cost and improving quality at the same time and ask for their help.


Vice president West Plains (Mo.) Bank

BANKS ARE TYRING TO REENGINEER their operations to become cost-effective yet at the same time, the government is making it harder from a reporting, compliance, and operational standpoint.

The government is looking to make banks provide certain services free of charge -- for example, direct deposit of social security checks, clearing food stamps, providing government benefits through an automated teller machine. Not only are banks expected to provide these services free of charge, but they are also expected to spend time and money training employees as well as the general public in how to use these services.

I applaud the effort to reinvent or right-size government, but they're not going to do it by overregulating businesses.


Chief executive officer Peoples Bank Bridgeport, Conn.

AMERICAN BUSINESS HAS LEARNED IN a massive way that we've created huge layers of people between the employees who see the customers and those who make the decisions but don't see the customers. With modern information systems, we don't need all these layers.

Banking is a service business, and so is the government. What Gore needs to do is take a look at the government agencies, their size, and how hard it is to figure out what people do. We've grown our government over the last 60 years. But Gore should ask: Have we grown them to address to need? Or can we use modern technology to replace some of these middle layers?


Consultant Arthur D. Little Inc. Cambridge, Mass.

THE WELL-THOUGHT-OUT BUSINESS process redesign effort in the Federal government could have some interesting results. The key depends on how high a level the program is carried out. If the Clinton administration merely suggestes to each of the agencies that they redesign their processes, that would not be as effective as identifying the critical processes and crossing agency boundaries.

It's much like a bank. If a bank wants to reengineer commercial lending, it cannot only look at that department, but must also look throughout the rest of the organization and outside the bank. Unfortunately, many banks define reengineering too narrowly.


Executive vice president First Manhattan Consulting Group, New York

IT'S NOT QUITE CLEAR WHAT VICE President Gore is doing to reengineer government. But from his disclosures thus far, it sounds like he's taking a systematic approach to what's going on, what functions are performed, and how and why they're performed. He's looking to see how procedures could be streamlined and made more cost-efficient.

In effect, this is what businesses, including banks, have been calling reengineering.

Fundamentally, both the government and businesses are doing the same thing: stepping back with a clean piece of paper to see what needs to be done and how it can be done in a streamlined, efficient way.

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