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GSA Presents Hammer Award to R.H. Donnelley and Sprint for Making Federal Government Listings in Phone Books More User-Friendly

GSA # 9537

December 10, 1998
Contact: Bill Bearden (202) 501-1231

Washington, D.C. -- On behalf of Vice President Al Gore, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) today recognized R.H. Donnelley and Sprint Publishing and Advertising for making government services more "consumer friendly" by presenting the companies with the prestigious Hammer Award at a ceremony in Las Vegas.

The companies, whose CenDon partnership published the Las Vegas Sprint First Source Phone Book Yellow and White Pages, incorporated the newly re-vamped "Blue Pages" - listings of Federal Government Agencies -- in the latest editions of their Las Vegas directories.

Starting from a need identified in Vice President Gore's "National Performance Review" initiative, the GSA has been working with consumers, publishers, phone companies, and other government agencies for more than three years to develop a more efficient - and easier-to-use - format for government telephone listings. The Las Vegas edition represents the latest version of this evolving project.

"By working in a public/private partnership on the Blue Pages Project, R.H. Donnelley and Sprint serve their customers better - and help government provide more efficient service," said GSA Administrator David Barram. "Consumers will be able to find - and get results from - government services faster and more efficiently than ever before."

Consumers also will find subject-driven listings, larger type, identifying icons, toll-free numbers, and even Internet addresses in the new government listings - a great improvement over the sometimes-confusing format that people have struggled with for years. Even in markets where publishing limits the directories to "text-only" black-and-white versions, GSA has created more usable, consistent listings. Recent testing shows that consumers are much more likely to find the right information faster - and with fewer hassles -- using the new format.

GSA is getting the new Blue Pages out to consumers quickly. In partnership with telephone companies and directory publishers such as Sprint and R.H. Donnelley, GSA has provided new Blue Pages listings for 195 telephone directories - reaching more than half of all U.S. households in the last two years.

GSA will continue to gather feedback from consumers as it further refines and improves the Blue Pages. Future plans include incorporating the print and electronic listings.

Barram says that working in partnership with telephone companies and publishers will help ensure continuous improvement. "Companies like Sprint and R.H. Donnelley, who are publishing the new Las Vegas Blue Pages at no cost to the taxpayers, understand that serving the customer is their business. GSA shares that belief, and we're working hard to offer our customers better services all the time."

Vice President Gore has said that the Blue Pages have become easier to use because they are now based on common sense not government bureaucracy. "This is good news for the millions 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 R.H. Donnelley, Sprint, and 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."

Accepting the Hammer Award for Sprint was Bob Walsh, President-Sprint Publishing and Advertising, for R.H. Donnelley was Fred Groser, Executive Vice President -Telco Operations, and for the Federal Executive Association was Ramon Reevey.

"While Las Vegas residents are the first to receive the Blue Pages in our CenDon directories," said Bob Walsh, "they are not the last. These simplified government listings will be part of CenDon directories in our top markets by the end of 1999. Soon, customers from Florida to Nevada will find it easier to locate the government services they need."

"We're honored to be receiving the Hammer Award for our work in this public/private partnership," said Fred Groser. "We see our publication of the new and improved Blue Pages as a part of our core business - providing public with access to the services and connections they need. The employees who have worked on this project can take great pride in knowing that they have made life a little easier for consumers all around Las Vegas."

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 $6.00 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.

The Las Vegas award ceremony was held today at the Desert Inn, 3145 Las Vegas Boulevard S, Las Vegas, Nevada 89109.

For more information about the GSA Blue Pages Project, contact Beth Johnson at 202-501-1938. For more information about today's awards, contact Solveig Thursrud at 702-739-9933.