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Bell Atlantic and Federal Employees Receive VP Gore's Hammer Awardfor Making Government Blue Pages of Phone Books More User-Friendly

GSA #9416

May 28, 1997
Contact: Bill Bearden
(202) 501-1231
bill.bearden@gsa.gov

Actor James Earl Jones Participates in Ceremony


WASHINGTON, DC - A team of Bell Atlantic and Baltimore federal employees received Vice President Al Gore's Hammer Award today for helping make government work better. The team was honored for their work on redesigning government listings in the blue pages of local telephone directories.

David J. Barram, Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), presented the award on behalf of Vice President Gore and the National Performance Review (NPR) in a ceremony at the GSA Auditorium. The award is a $6.00 hammer in a frame, representing efficiency in government. James Earl Jones, actor and Bell Atlantic spokesperson, presented directory covers of the redesigned Blue Pages for Baltimore and Washington, DC, which were autographed by Gore and Jones. The team recipients were 23 employees of Bell Atlantic and two federal employees each from the Baltimore Federal Executive Board and the U.S. Veterans Administration.

"The Blue Pages have become user friendly," said Vice President Gore in a letter to the team. "The Blue Pages are easier to use because they are based on common sense not government bureaucracy. This is good news for the million of Americans each year who need information about their federal government, and a good example of how the public and private sectors can work together to make positive changes."

The Blue Pages Project is sponsored by the Vice President's National Performance Review and coordinated by GSA. The project is a collaborative effort of Bell Atlantic, other telephone directory publishers, and 24 Federal agencies to make it easier to find Federal services in over 6,200 telephone directories nationwide.

Gore has referred to telephone directory blue pages as "the low-tech puzzle that must be solved before reaching the high-tech government." Since government telephone numbers have traditionally been listed by organization�not by service, as in the Yellow Pages�Federal services have not been very accessible. For example, the U.S. Passport Agency, which used to be listed only under "s" for "State Department," is listed in the new blue pages under "p", for "passport."

Surveys show that half the users of the original Blue Pages give up before they get the information they need because they cannot locate the number for a particular office. "The Blue Pages are used 81 million times a year," Barram said. "They are often the first contact someone has with the government. Simplifying Blue Pages provides a great service to taxpayers."

Bell Atlantic is the leading provider of local telecommunications services in the Mid-Atlantic. It is collaborating with GSA on redesigning the blue pages of all of its 415 telephone directories. The design improvements were introduced into the Baltimore directory last year and are in the recently distributed Washington, DC, directories. The new design will be included in the 1997 directories for Richmond, VA, East Montgomery, PA, Jersey City, NJ, and Montgomery and Prince George's counties of Maryland Suburban.

Accepting the Hammer Award for Bell Atlantic were Barbara Connor, president of Bell Atlantic Federal Systems, and Patrick Cantwell, vice president, marketing and strategic planning, Bell Atlantic Directory Services.

"Consumers using the new blue pages are benefiting from the partnership between government agencies and directory publishers such as Bell Atlantic," said Connor. "We will continue to work together to produce enhanced and simplified government listings and information in all of Bell Atlantic's directories," Cantwell added.

Richard H. Howell, executive director Baltimore Federal Executive Board, accepted the Hammer Award for the FEB and Baltimore-based U.S. Veterans Administration Medical Health Care System.

The Hammer Award is given to participants in a team effort that contributes dramatically to improving the way government works. It recognizes special achievements in the four main themes of reinventing government: improving customer service, cutting red tape, empowering employees, or getting back to basics.

More than 800 Hammer Awards have been awarded since the program began in 1994, many to public/private teams. GSA employees have participated on nearly 30 Hammer-winning teams.

The award was designed to be a reminder of the government's past practices that, among other things, led it to pay $400 for a hammer. The award consists of a $6.00 hammer, a ribbon and a note from the Vice President, all in an aluminum frame. Individual team members receive certificates and hammer-shaped lapel pins.

Hammer Awards were presented to other members of the governmentwide Blue Pages Project last November.

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