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Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers

March 02, 1993

The Briefing Room

5:50 P.M. EST

MS. MYERS: Sorry to be keeping you up. (Laughter.) Tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. the President and the Vice President and David Osborne will appear in OEOB 450. The President will make a statement and then depart. The Vice President and David Osborne will answer questions. It's about cutting waste in government -- streamlining government.

The only other thing is you should all have a statement now about the President's meeting with the Secretary General of NATO.

Q: What is this cutting waste of government? Is that part of the economic program, or what is that?

MS. MYERS: It's part of the President's overall commitment to reinvent government. This is just part of an ongoing series of actions that he'll take.

Q: What does that mean?

MS. MYERS: To change the way government operates. To add more entrepreneurial incentives, to streamline business -- the same way a lot of businesses have eliminated things like mid-level management and streamlined their overall processes over the last decade. Government's behind in that process. The President believes we need to catch up.

Q: What does it mean? You mean you're going to take off the top level and -- I don't understand.

MS. MYERS: It means that you, by reorganizing and by creating more incentives you can make government operate more efficiently.

Q: Every agency in government?

MS. MYERS: We'll have more to say about it tomorrow and throughout the next four years. I think it's part of an ongoing process to make government more efficient the way private business in this country and around the world has reevaluated the way it operates over the course of the past decade to become more efficient.

Q: When you say incentives, do you mean bonuses? What do you mean by incentives?

MS. MYERS: I think we'll have more to say about it tomorrow.

Q: Can you say whether you mean bonuses -- is that what you mean by incentives?

MS. MYERS: No, that's not what we mean by incentives.

Q: What do you mean?

MS. MYERS: We'll have more to say about it tomorrow.

Q: Are you going to be announcing staff cuts?

MS. MYERS: Not tomorrow. We're going to be announcing a process for streamlining government.

Q: Speaking of cuts, Ross Perot again raised the allegation that the White House staff cuts, 25-percent people but only five percent payroll. Any comment?

MS. MYERS: If you look at the total White House or Executive Office of the President budget, about $100 million of a $200 million budget is in drug enforcement grants. The President has pledged to eliminate about $10 million a year from the White House operating budget -- it's about 10 percent.

Q: But the staff money?

MS. MYERS: That's what I'm talking about. If you take out the drug enforcement money. A lot of the money in the budget -- the total budget is about $200 million. About half of that, a little less than half of that is for drug enforcement grants through the former drug czar's office.

Q: The White House itself --


Q: not the Executive Branch, but the White House?

MS. MYERS: It's in the Executive Office of the President, which is --

Q: I'm talking about the White House.

MS. MYERS: Well, that's how we defined it for the 25- percent staff reduction -- was Executive Office of the President, as opposed to the White House, which would just be the West Wing. It includes the OEOB and the West Wing.

Q: Dee Dee, something seems to have slowed down or gone awry in the standoff in Waco. The President was talking about he was glad to see it was ending peacefully, yet nobody has come out now. Do you know what has happened there?

MS. MYERS: No, I don't. We're still monitoring the situation. I think it appeared to be moving in that direction, but I don't know what the latest is.

Q: Was the President given some bad information that it was over?

MS. MYERS: I don't know what precipitated his comment. I'll have to check into it.

Q: It was precipitated by a question from some reporter.

MS. MYERS: No, but, I mean, I don't know what information he was given. I'll have to get back to you.

Q: Do you know if he's been -- if he had been told privately by the Attorney General or somebody that it was over?

MS. MYERS: Well, he's been monitoring the situation. And, again, I don't know specifically what he was told.

Q: What else is on the --

MS. MYERS: Or by whom.

Q: What else is on the President's schedule besides the 10:30 a.m. event tomorrow?

MS. MYERS: A series of other staff-level meetings and various things. I don't have the full details of it.

Q: That's the only public event tomorrow?

MS. MYERS: That's the only public event.

Q: Dee Dee, in the streamlining process, are you leaning toward a commission that's going to look into this, or are you leaning toward the Texas-style audit idea? Or neither?

MS. MYERS: I think you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the details of that.

Q: What is Osborne's title, please?

MS. MYERS: He doesn't have a specific title.

Q: Who is he? (Laughter.)

MS. MYERS: He's an author who wrote a book called "Reinventing Government." It's somebody who the President is -- believes has a lot of good ideas and has had some influence on the President's thinking on a number of issues.

Q: Is this an actual plan that you have already to implement?

MS. MYERS: It is -- again, they'll speak about streamlining government and you'll have to wait until tomorrow for the specifics.

Q: No, but he's going to present a plan where he's actually putting it into effect?

MS. MYERS: It's more of a process than a specific plan. He's not going to announce a specific dollar figure of cuts, if that's what you mean.

Q: No. No, I just wonder -- so many businesses have gone out of business. I don't know what you're streamlining in the last 10 years.

MS. MYERS: A lot of other businesses have reorganized to become more efficient and have been more productive and more financially successful as a result.

Q: How can you be criticizing large companies for scaling back in order to keep afloat on one hand, and on the other hand, you're saying that this is a great thing for government to be doing?

MS. MYERS: I don't think we're criticizing large companies for scaling back. I think what we've done is said that government has failed to invest in industries that will create jobs, to invest in the technologies of the future, to invest in worker training, and things that will make us richer and more productive in the long run. And that's part of the reason that we've lost our competitive edge in a lot of important businesses and industries.

I think the President's overall plan seeks to invest in technology and things that will make us more competitive over the long run and to train our workers and invest in things like education, environmental cleanup, health care. I don't think he's criticized businesses for trying to become leaner and more efficient and to implement modern management practices. I've never heard him do that.

Q: Dee Dee, I want to ask you about the Bosnian airdrop again. You said the Pentagon described it as successful, and yet Pentagon officials say the vast majority of the aid has not gone to its intended targets; that the intended targets were, in fact, the Muslim villagers, and the Serbs had gotten the vast majority of the aid. And the U.N. says that there is what appears to be a massacre going on now -- Serb militiamen overrun the Muslim villages that we had hoped to help.

MS. MYERS: We haven't had a chance to confirm those reports yet. I would refer you to the Pentagon for more details. But the Pentagon did say yesterday that they believe the operation was successful. They said that again today. We're waiting for more details about last night's drops. But we do believe the policy has been successful. The primary goal was to deliver humanitarian aid to people in isolated parts of Bosnia, and we think that we've achieved that.

Q: Even though most of the aid is going to the Serb militia?

MS. MYERS: Again, the Pentagon said yesterday they thought the effort was successful. The drops last night they believe are successful. We're waiting for more details. But we believe it was successful.

Q: If I can press you on that, you believe it is successful even though most of the aid is going to the Serbs?

MS. MYERS: We believe it was successful.

Q: Now, are you basing that on simply the Pentagon's assessment, or do you believe that it's successful regardless of the fact who the aid goes to?

MS. MYERS: Well, first of all, as we said a number of times that we were going to target Bosnians regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Second of all, the Pentagon was responsible for the operational details; they declared the operation successful. That doesn't mean that every single package landed exactly where it was intended to, but they felt a large number landed within the target zone. And they believe it was a success and we're going forward with it.

Q: Dee Dee, Les Aspin said that the airdrops may be temporarily halted. Is that true?

MS. MYERS: I would refer you to the Pentagon for the operational details. I mean, I don't think they'll disclose when the drops will occur or won't occur.

Q: About NATO, the statement said that the President reaffirmed his commitment to maintaining a significant American military presence in Europe -- does that mean -- was he thinking about maintaining the current number of U.S. troops, or did he discuss with Mr. Woerner further cutbacks in that number?

MS. MYERS: Well, as you know, he's proposed further cutbacks in the troop level that's there now, but is committed to maintaining a significant troop presence. I don't know specifically if they discussed the numbers or specific details of troops other than to say that the President is committed to maintaining significant troops in Europe to protect our interests as well as our European allies.

Q: Did they discuss specific ways that NATO could become involved in the Yugoslav crisis? It says here that they -- what actions NATO could take to support the efforts. What actions could they take to support the efforts?

MS. MYERS: Well, they're taking a number now including managing the delivery of food on the ground. Without talking about the specific details of the meeting, I think they discussed that.

Q: But, I mean, this suggests that there are possibly additional actions beyond those that exist. Is that right?

MS. MYERS: Well, again, there are ongoing actions and then are other things that are on the plate. I can't discuss the specific details but, sure, it's an ongoing process.

Q: Dee Dee, the British Ambassador seems to be here. Can you tell us why?

MS. MYERS: No, I don't believe he's meeting with the President, but I'll double-check.

Q: Do you think you'll have a place for the summit tomorrow?

MS. MYERS: I think there's a good chance we'll have it by the end of the week. I don't know if it will be tomorrow.

Q: What's that -- by the end of the week?

MS. MYERS: A site for the summit with Yeltsin.

Q: What's in the President's schedule for the rest of the week?

MS. MYERS: Tomorrow, just the streamlining event, and Thursday and Friday are still being worked on. I don't have any specific details for those two days.

Q: Travel?

MS. MYERS: No further travel scheduled.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

END6:00 P.M. EST

William J. Clinton, Press Briefing by Dee Dee Myers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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