General Services Administration Presents Hammer Award to USWEST for Revised Blue Pages Publishing Efforts
April 13, 1999
Contact: Bill Bearden (202) 501-1231
Washington, D.C. -- In a ceremony in Denver today, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recognized USWEST and its directory publishing company, USWEST Dex's efforts to help make government more "consumer friendly" by presenting the company with the prestigious Hammer Award.
USWEST has been working with GSA for more than two years on the effort to revise and distribute an easier-to-use edition of the Blue Pages federal government services directory listings. The company introduced the Denver edition of the Blue Pages in November, 1998. USWEST will publish different editions of the revised Blue Pages in nine cities, reaching more than 10 million people.
Improving the Blue Pages - and making them more useful to consumers - grows out of a recommendation from the Vice President's National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) initiative. As the lead agency in the effort, GSA has been working with consumers, publishers, phone companies, and other government agencies to create a helpful, "hassle-free" listing format. So far, the improved version of the evolving product reaches 105 million Americans.
"In just a few years, thanks to public/private partnerships with companies like USWEST, we've been able to make huge strides toward the Vice President's goal of giving consumers easier access to their government," said GSA Administrator David Barram. "Right now, we're getting this valuable tool to nearly half the homes in America."
Consumers can open their local phone books and see the improvements that the GSA and USWEST have made. Instead of endless columns of information arranged by government agency name, consumers now have a resource with larger type, identifying icons, toll-free numbers, and Internet addresses, organized by subject and type of service. GSA testing shows that this new format cuts down on the time people need to find numbers - a key part of the product's efficiency.
GSA plans to continue to gather feedback from consumers, publishers, and other government agencies to refine the Blue Pages even more.
According to Barram, one of the advantages of working with companies like USWEST is that they're attuned to serving customers. "For our corporate partners, innovation and constant improvement are basic parts of their business strategies. GSA operates the same way, constantly striving to improve our customer service. Working together in a public/private partnership, we've been able to focus our efforts and reach a huge segment of the country quickly and efficiently."
In a recent letter to Barram, the Vice President echoed this idea. "The new Blue Pages have improved customer access to federal services and support the Administration's effort to bring government closer to the people."
GSA began working on the Blue Pages project, once described by the Vice President as a "low-tech puzzle that must be solved before reaching the high-tech government," in 1995. Soon, the agency learned that about one-third of people using the "old" Blue Pages to reach the government failed to find the information they needed.
Part of the problem stemmed from confusing listings that organized information alphabetically by government agency name, rather than by common-sense subject. Working with representatives from other federal agencies, GSA's team sorted out the listings and developed a standardized, subject-driven approach that can be used throughout the country.
In Denver, for example, consumers can look under "T"for taxes or "I" for Internal Revenue Service to get forms and other assistance - a resource that's particularly helpful this time of year.
By publishing the Blue Pages, USWEST and other companies offer a value public service. Thanks to GSA's partnership with USWEST, 3.9 million households have more efficient access to their government.
Judi Hand, USWEST Dex Vice President of Marketing, and Dave Miller, USWEST Vice President of Operator and Information Services, accepted the Hammer Award for the USWEST team. Don Elder of the Vice President's National Partnership for Reinventing Government, presented the award on behalf of the Vice President.
"Consumers in Denver, where we've published one of our most recent directories, and other cities can already see the benefits of the revised Blue Pages," said Hand. "We are committed to publishing directories that are complete, accurate, and easy-to-use. Our work with the GSA has gone a long way to helping our federal Blue Pages meet the 'user-friendliness' test."
Hand added that, "We're proud to receive the Hammer Award - not only because it marks an important partnership for us, but because it represents the same kind of drive toward service and quality that USWEST Dex is committed to providing."
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.
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 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.
For more information about the GSA Blue Pages Project, contact Beth Johnson at 202-501-1938. For more information about today's awards, contact Wendy Carver-Herbert, USWEST Dex, 303-784-2427.