Ronald Reagan picture

Radio Address to the Nation on Organ Donorship and on Reform 88

July 30, 1983

My fellow Americans:

Last Saturday, I told you about little Ashley Bailey and her desperate need for a liver transplant. I expressed the hope that someone listening might know of a possible donor who could assure 11-month-old Ashley of a chance to live. I listed several others who, like Ashley, are waiting for transplants if donors can only be found. I gave a phone number where possible donors could respond. Well, God bless you all, the response was overwhelming. Over 5,000 calls were received from people in 47 States. Many callers asked for donor cards so they could help others even after they're gone. Six liver transplants have already taken place. Six children, including Candi Thomas, one of the little girls I mentioned last week, have been given a new lease on life. And two people have received cornea transplants. They were given the gift of sight by one of our neighbors who heard about a chance to help.

I'm sorry to say, Ashley's situation remains the same. None of the available livers was suitable. She still needs a transplant soon, in order to live. Time is short. But your response has been so generous, I have to believe there will be a donor found. I'm going to keep on praying. One thing I know: We live in a country where people truly care for one another.

Today, I'd like to take you behind the headlines and talk about an issue that affects every U.S. taxpayer—efficient management of the Federal Government. Government has grown like a patchwork quilt. Whenever a new need was identified, a new program was patched on regardless of what it cost. The door was wide open for fraud, waste, and abuse. Is it any wonder that we hear so many infuriating stories about government throwing money away, about food stamp rings that illegally obtain aid meant for the poor and needy, or about illegal aliens receiving government loans?

Already, we've cut the volume of new Federal regulations by one-quarter, reducing paperwork on the American people by 300 million hours a year. We've reduced the rapid rate of growth in government spending. And the Inspector General program has helped save or put to better use over $22 billion that was being improperly spent.

In the Defense Department alone, our efforts have saved or put to better use $16.1 billion. And the Department's 18,000 auditors and investigators have my full backing in their continuing fight against the fraud and waste typified by the recent $916 plastic cap purchase. Would you pay that much for a plastic cap? Well, the Government shouldn't either. And Secretary Weinberger is cracking down, seeing to it that negligent employees will be fired and irresponsible government contractors taken to court. Those horror stories you've been seeing and hearing about scandalous prices that we're paying for spare parts are the result of our own investigations and represent the findings of more than a score of Defense Department Inspector Generals.

We've saved $50 million in government-wide travel costs by using airline discount fares. We've also discontinued one out of every five government publications, eliminating 73 million copies of such vital reports as "A Moment in the Life of a Lizard" and "Growing Ornamental Bamboo". And we're ahead of schedule in our efforts to reduce Federal civilian employment by the equivalent of 75,000 full-time workers.

This coming week I'll bring my senior appointees together at the White House to continue an ambitious program to upgrade management of the Federal Government. Our long-range goal is to overhaul the entire administrative system. I call this effort Reform 88. It's a big job. Our government has over 2.8 million civilian and 2 million active military personnel in over 22,000 buildings, using 19,000 computers, 330 differing financial systems, and 200 payroll systems, and there's never been an effective effort to manage this growing administrative monster.

Each year we've fallen behind the private sector in management techniques. Well, we're bringing this to an end now. Reform 88 is geared to get results. Over a 6-year period, it'll save the taxpayers or result in a better use of tens of billions of dollars that could mean as much as the equivalent of nearly $2,000 for the average American family. And these savings won't be obtained by cutting help to the deserving but by eliminating waste and inefficiency.

For example, in debt collection, where the Government is owed over $280 billion, we'll be using modern methods to ensure that Federal loans are paid back. You may have heard about the individual who obtained 10 Housing and Urban Development loans and defaulted on all 10. Well, in the future, deadbeats like that will be headed off at the pass. We'll do it by using credit bureaus and prescreening to determine the credit worthiness of applicants for loans and grants. And to help reduce the $40 billion in delinquent debt, we'll be automating our collection techniques just like private industry.

It's about time the notion that government is the servant, not the master, came back into fashion. One of our highest priorities is to restore to the American people a government well managed and responsive to your needs and respectful of your tax dollars. The greatest nation in the world deserves the best government, and with your support, we'll have it.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, Md.

Ronald Reagan, Radio Address to the Nation on Organ Donorship and on Reform 88 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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