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  • >> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

  • WE'RE HERE WITH PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA -- SO THAT WAS GOOD.

  • WE TALKED A LOT ABOUT THIS IRAN DEAL.

  • YOU'RE FEELING VERY GOOD ABOUT THAT.

  • I WANNA TALK TO YOU NOW -- YOU SPOKE WITH THE VFW TODAY FOR

  • OUR VETERAN'S.

  • BOY, ROUGH RIDE FOR THE VETERAN'S RECENTLY.

  • THIS TERRIBLE ATTACK IN TENNESSEE.

  • >> HEARTBREAKING.

  • >> Jon: AND ALSO THOUGH A SYSTEMIC ISSUE, AND I KNOW YOU

  • RAISE IT WITH THE VA AND HEALTHCARE.

  • >> WELL YOU KNOW THE SITUATION WITH THE V.A. HAS ALWAYS BEEN,

  • WE MAKE A PROMISE BUT TOO OFTEN UNDER RESOURCED.

  • SO IT IS MY FIRM BELIEF WE HAVE A SACRED DUTY TO THESE GUYS AND

  • GALS THAT WHEN THEY HAVE SERVED US AS BRAVELY AS THEY HAVE,

  • WHEN THEY COME HOME, WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE THERE FOR THEM.

  • WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE BUDGET HISTORICALLY, IT'S BEEN

  • SHORT-CHANGED, WORSE IN THE VIETNAM ERA WHEN THEY CAME BACK.

  • WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO SYSTEMATICALLY ADD RESOURCES TO

  • THE VA BUT YOU STILL HAVE THIS MASSIVE STRUCTURE WITH MILLIONS

  • OF PEOPLE BEING SERVED.

  • AND WHAT WE'RE HAVING TO DO IS SYSTEMATICALLY WORK THROUGH

  • SOME OF THE CHALLENGES OF A BIG, FREAKY BUREAUCRACY.

  • WHEN WE HAVE THAT PROBLEM WITH WAITING LISTS...

  • FOLKS ARE STILL TAKING APPOINTMENTS DOWN ON PAPER.

  • AND WHEN YOU'VE GOT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WHO ARE NEEDING SERVICES,

  • IT JUST DOESN'T WORK ANYMORE.

  • SO WE'VE NOW BEEN ABLE TO CUT DOWN ON WAITING TIMES, REDUCE

  • THE BACKLOG FOR DISABILITY CLAIMS BY ABOUT 80%.

  • BUT WE ALSO HAVE MORE AND MORE PEOPLE COMING IN.

  • WE ALLOWED FOLKS WHO HAD SYMPTOMS OF AGENT ORANGE FOR THE

  • FIRST TIME TO BE ABLE TO MAKE CLAIMS.

  • THAT ADDED A COUPLE HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE.

  • AS WE END TWO WARS, FOLKS COME BACK.

  • SO WE ACTUALLY HAVE 2.7 MILLION MORE VETERANS SPEAKING SERVICES.

  • IF THE AMOUNT OF RESOURCES DOESN'T CHANGE, THEN THEY GET

  • SHORT-CHANGED.

  • SO WE'VE GOT TO DO EFFICIENCY WORK ON THE VA BUT WE ALSO ASKED

  • CONGRESS TO GET OUT FROM UNDER THE SEQUESTER, THIS IDEA WE JUST

  • MAKE BLANKET BUDGET CUTS THAT SOMEHOW THAT'S GOING TO IMPROVE

  • OUR ECONOMY.

  • AND THE VERY SAME FOLKS WHO ARE GOING TO CUT SERVICES ARE THE

  • FIRST ONES THEN TO SAY WHY ARE THE FOLKS HAVING WAITING TIMES

  • SO LONG.

  • >> Jon: IT'S A WAITING TIME ISSUE, TO BE FAIR, HAPPENED FAR

  • BEFORE THE SEQUESTER.

  • IT BRINGS UP SORT OF A LARGER ISSUE WHICH IS, YOU KNOW, GIVEN,

  • OKAY, THERE IS A PARTY THAT BELIEVES THAT GOVERNMENT DOES

  • NOT HAVE AS LARGE A ROLE TO PLAY IN OUR LIVES AS THE PARTY THAT

  • YOU ARE WITH.

  • WHICH MEANS INSTANCES INCUMBENT MAY BE UPON THAT PARTY, THE ONE

  • THAT YOU ARE WITH, TO DEMONSTRATE HOW THAT WILL

  • WORK IN THE 21st CENTURY.

  • HOW CAN THE GOVERNMENT BE AGILE, AND WITH THE V.A. SEEMS TO BE A

  • LARGER ISSUE, YOU CAME INTO OFFICE IN 2009 EXPLICITLY SAYING

  • YOU SPEND A BILLION DOLLARS PRYING TO GET OPERABILITY

  • BETWEEN THE D.O.D AND V.A.

  • COULDN'T DO IT AFTER... FIVE YEARS?

  • WENT BACK AND SAID LET'S DO IT SEPARATELY.

  • MORE MONEY.

  • THAT DIDN'T WORK.

  • NOW THEY'RE BACK, THE V.A.'S GOT A PRETTY GOOD SYSTEM WAITING FOR

  • THE D.O.D.

  • THEY'VE NOT EVEN GONE OUT YET WITH A $11 BILLION CONTRACT.

  • YOU'RE RUNNING FOR OFFICE, YOU KNOW WHERE EVERYBODY IS --

  • >> SO THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS.

  • A COUPLE THINGS I'LL SAY.

  • NUMBER ONE, GOVERNMENT WORKS BETTER NOW THAN IT PROBABLY EVER

  • HAS GIVEN WHAT WE ASK IT TO DO.

  • AND ACROSS AGENCIES, THERE HAVE BEEN ALL KINDS OF REFORMS AND

  • IMPROVEMENTS AND PEOPLE THERE WORK HARD AND THEY CARE ABOUT

  • THIS STUFF DEEPLY.

  • BUT WHAT IS TRUE IS IF YOU HAVE A GOVERNMENT THAT WAS BUILT ON

  • 1930 MODELS AND IT'S NOT UPDATED, THEN THERE'S GOING TO

  • BE A GAP IN TERMS OF WHAT THEY'RE DOING NOW RELATIVE TO

  • WHAT SOME OTHER FOLKS DO.

  • AND I.T. IS PROBABLY THE BIGGEST EXAMPLE OF THAT.

  • WE'RE HAVING TO COMPLETELY REDESIGN HOW THE GOVERNMENT

  • PURCHASES I.T. SERVICES, HOW IT DOES DIGITAL, FROM SOUP TO NUTS.

  • AND PART OF IT IS THE WAY IT'S BEEN SET UP IS THAT YOU HAVE THE

  • SPECIFICATIONS THAT ARE THIS THICK.

  • WHEN ON A CHAIN AND SETTING UP MY OPERATIONS I HAVE GUYS IN

  • T-SHIRTS IN A ROOM FIGURING OUT HOW TO DO THIS THING.

  • THAT'S NOT HOW THE GOVERNMENT IS SET UP.

  • IT'S SLOW AND IT DOESN'T FUNCTION PROPERLY.

  • YOU ASKED ME WHAT I WANT TO DO OVER THE NEXT 18 MONTHS.

  • A LOT OF THIS STUFF DOESN'T REQUIRE CONGRESS, BUT HOW IT IS

  • WE CAN REVAMP THE SYSTEMS AND WE'VE DONE IT SUCCESSFULLY IN

  • CERTAIN AREAS.

  • BUT WHEN YOU'VE GOT TWO MILLION EMPLOYEES THEN THERE ARE GOING

  • TO BE PLACES WHERE THIS SLIPS.

  • >> Jon: TO SOME EXTENT THAT'S THE POINT.

  • YOU GOT TWO MILLION EMPLOYEES AND YOU WANT THIS TO BE AGILE.

  • THE V.A. SYSTEM.

  • YOU CAN'T FIND A BETTER ISSUE POLITICALLY.

  • YOU CAN'T -- YOU'LL FIND BUT YOU'LL FIND ALMOST ANONYMOUS

  • AGREEMENT BUT WE HAVE FAILED THESE VETERANS AND UNANIMOUS

  • AGREEMENT THAT WE NEED TO DO BETTER YET SEVEN YEARS INTO IT,

  • WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO DEMONSTRATE --

  • >> WAIT WAIT -- THE REASON IT'S BACK UP IS YOU GOT 2.7 MILLION

  • NEW FOLKS COMING BACK IN.

  • >> Jon: WELL WHEN YOU START A LOT OF WARS -- IT'S GOTTA END.

  • >> HOLD ON A SECOND. HERE'S THE GENERAL POINT.

  • WE ASK OUR GOVERNMENT TO DO THINGS THAT OTHER FOLKS DON'T

  • WANT TO DO BECAUSE YOU CAN'T MAKE MONEY AT IT.

  • BECAUSE IT'S NOT PROFITABLE.

  • AND SO WE WANT GOVERNMENT TO HELP MAKE SURE THAT KIDS GET

  • OPPORTUNITY.

  • AND THEY HAVE TO REACH THE TOUGHEST TO REACH KIDS.

  • THE KIDS AT THE PRIVATE SCHOOLS GENERALLY SCREEN OUT.

  • WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE ARE SERVING OUR VETERANS INCLUDING

  • THE OLDEST, POOREST VETERANS.

  • THERE'S NOT A LOT OF MONEY IN DOING THAT.

  • AND SO A LOT OF TIMES PEOPLE WILL SAY WELL WHY ISN'T THIS

  • HAPPENING AS QUICK, AS FAST.

  • IF WE'RE UNDER RESOURCING OUR GOVERNMENT AND NOT STAFFING IT

  • THE WAY IT NEEDS TO BE TO DO EVERYTHING TO BE DONE, THEN

  • WE SHOULDN'T BE SURPRISED THAT THERE ARE GOING TO BE GAPS.

  • WHEN I CAME INTO OFFICE CAN WE MAKE STUFF A LOT BETTER THAN IT

  • HAS BEEN.

  • >> Jon: THE ENEMY OF GOOD.

  • >> PART OF THE PROBLEM IS I THINK WE HAVE A TENDENCY TO,

  • I'LL GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE.

  • WHEN THERE WAS THAT PROBLEM WITH THE IRS.

  • EVERYBODY JUMPED INCLUDING YOU.

  • >> Jon: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE IRS?

  • >> LOOK YOU GOT THIS BACK OFFICE AND THEY'RE GOING AFTER THE TEA

  • PARTY.

  • IT TURNED OUT NO, CONGRESS HAS A CRUMMY LAW THAT DIDN'T GIVE

  • PEOPLE GUIDANCE IN TERMS OF WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO DO.

  • THEY DID IT POORLY AND STUPIDLY.

  • BUT THAT BECOMES --

  • >> Jon: YOU REALLY ONLY DO HAVE A YEAR LEFT.

  • [LAUGHTER]

  • >> NO -- BUT HOLD ON, JON.

  • THIS IS IMPORTANT.

  • BUT THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT THERE WAS NOT SOME BIG

  • CONSPIRACY THERE.

  • THEY WERE TRYING TO SORT OUT THESE CONFLICTING DEMANDS.

  • YOU DON'T WANT ALL THIS MONEY POURING THROUGH NOT-FOR-PROFITS

  • BUT YOU ALSO WANT TO MAKE SURE EVERYBODY IS BEING TREATED

  • FAIRLY.

  • THE REAL SCANDAL AROUND THE IRS IS THAT IT HAS BEEN SO POORLY

  • FUNDED THAT THEY CAN'T GO AFTER THESE, WE CANNOT GO AFTER THESE

  • FOLKS WHO ARE DELIBERATELY DELETING TAX PAYMENTS.

  • AND THE REAL SCANDAL IS TAX CODES WHERE MULTINATIONALS CAN

  • PAY ZERO TAXES MAKING MASSIVE PROFITS.

  • SO WE TEND TO GET DISTRACTED BY THE FACT THAT THERE ARE GOING TO

  • BE ELEMENTS, BECAUSE GOVERNMENT IS A HUMAN ENTERPRISE WHERE,

  • SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE IS SCREWING UP AT ANY GIVEN TIME.

  • BECAUSE IT'S A HUGE SYSTEM.

  • OVERALL, IT WORKS REALLY WELL TO HELP A LOT OF PEOPLE.

  • WHAT THE SCANDALOUS IS THE FACT THAT WE ARE NOT MAKING AS MUCH

  • PROGRESS AS WE SHOULD ON THE BASIC THINGS THAT WE KNOW OUR

  • GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE DOING.

  • REBUILDING OUR INFRASTRUCTURE, REBUILDING OUR

  • ROADS, REBUILDING OUR PORTS, SETTING UP A SYSTEM FOR

  • DISTRIBUTING ENERGY, MAKING SURE WE HAVE EARLY CHILDHOOD

  • EDUCATION.

  • YOU'RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT THAT PART OF MY JOB FOR THE LAST

  • SEVEN YEARS AND PART OF MY JOB OVER THESE LAST, THIS LAST YEAR

  • COMING UP IS TO CONTINUALLY IMPROVE AND MAKE SURE THE

  • GOVERNMENT IS FUNCTIONING AS WELL AS IT COULD.

  • BUT YOU CAN'T USE THAT AS AN EXCUSE FOR THE BIG STRUCTURAL

  • PROBLEMS THAT WE'RE FACING RIGHT NOW THAT ARE NOT BEING ADDRESSED

  • ADDRESSED, TYPICALLY THAT HAS TO BE --

  • >> Jon: THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO GET TO IS THAT VISION OF WHAT

  • 21ST CENTURY GOVERNMENT LOOKS LIKE OUTSIDE OF THE

  • POLITICALIZATION OF IT.

  • HOW DO YOU GOVERN AND DO THE SERVICES YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT

  • WHILE BEING IN THAT SITUATION.

  • AND IF IT'S FOUR GUYS IN A T-SHIRT, ISN'T THERE AN

  • EXECUTIVE OPTION THAT CAN, THAT CAN CUT THROUGH.

  • >> HERE'S WHAT WE DO.

  • >> Jon: YES, YOU'RE THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF.

  • >> AFTER THE HEALTHCARE.GOV FIASCO, WE BROUGHT IN A TEAM

  • OF GUYS BASICALLY VOLUNTEERING THEIR OWN TIME FROM GOOGLE,

  • FACEBOOK, GUYS IN T-SHIRTS.

  • THEY'RE NOT WEARING T-SHIRTS NOW.

  • THEY'VE DRESSED UP A LITTLE BIT, ALTHOUGH NOT THAT WELL.

  • [LAUGHTER]

  • AND WE HAVE CREATED WHAT WE'RE CALLING THE U.S. DIGITAL

  • SERVICES AND WE'RE BASICALLY GETTING THEM IN FOR A

  • YEAR OR TWO YEARS AND WE'RE JUST PUTTING THEM ON A WHOLE BUNCH OF

  • THESE PROBLEMS.

  • WHETHER IT'S HOW DO WE MAKE AN S.B.A. LOAN EASIER TO GET.

  • HOW DO WE MAKE SURE THAT THIS AGENCY IS MORE CUSTOMER

  • FRIENDLY.

  • HOW DO WE MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE CAN GO TO ONE WEBSITE INSTEAD OF

  • 16 TO FIND OUT THE INFORMATION THEY NEED.

  • SO THESE GUYS ARE SPREADING OUT THROUGHOUT THE GOVERNMENT AND

  • THEY ARE IN FACT SYSTEMATICALLY CHIPPING AWAY AT A LOT OF THESE

  • PROBLEMS.

  • AND I THINK WE WILL, BY THE TIME I LEAVE HERE, WE'RE GOING TO BE

  • ABLE TO SAY THAT GOVERNMENT IS WORKING MUCH BETTER, MUCH MORE

  • EFFICIENTLY, MUCH MORE CUSTOMER FRIENDLY THAN WHEN I CAME INTO

  • OFFICE.

  • >> Jon: IT FRUSTRATES YOU BECAUSE I CAN TELL WE'RE TALKING

  • HAVING A NICE TIME TALKING ABOUT THE IRAN DEAL, I THINK IT'S

  • FRUSTRATING TO YOU.

  • >> OF COURSE.

  • >> Jon: BECAUSE YOU FEEL LIKE WE'RE AMPLIFYING THINGS OUT OF

  • PROPORTION.

  • I MIGHT AGREE WITH THAT ON CERTAIN ISSUES.

  • >> THAT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE.

  • >> Jon: THE V.A. THOUGH, I WOULD TAKE ISSUES --

  • >> NO, NO.

  • THE ISSUES WITH THE V.A. IS -- IF THERE'S ONE VETERNA NOT

  • GETTING THE SERVICES THEY NEED, THEN WE'RE FAILING THAT

  • VERTERAN, AND THAT'S ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL.

  • LET'S TALK ABOUT HOMLESSNESS AMONG VETERANS.

  • WE'VE CUT THAT BY A THIRD.

  • WE'VE GOT TWO THIRDS OF THESE FOLKS WE'VE GOT TO MAKE SURE

  • HAVE PROPER HOUSING BECAUSE IF THEY FOUGHT FOR US THEY SHOULD

  • BE ABLE TO FIND A HOME HERE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

  • >> Jon: SURE.

  • [APPLAUSE]

  • >> BUT THIS GOES FOR THE LARGER POINT.

  • YOU ASKED ME HOW AM I DOING AND AM I FEELING PRETTY GOOD RIGHT

  • NOW.

  • ONE OF THE THINGS I'M PROUD OF, AND THIS IS NOT JUST ME, IS WE

  • HAVE LOOKED AT A WHOLE SLEW OF PROBLEMS WHEN WE CAME INTO

  • OFFICE.

  • AND WE SAID WHERE CAN WE ADVANCE THE BALL DOWN THE FIELD EACH AND

  • EVERY TIME ACROSS THE BOARD.

  • AND WE DON'T SCORE A TOUCH DOWN EVERY TIME, BUT WE MOVE THE BALL

  • FORWARD.

  • >> Jon: DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE HIT THE METRICS THAT YOU

  • WANTED TO HIT.

  • >> YOU'RE ALWAYS GOING TO FALL SHORT BECAUSE IF YOU'RE HITTING

  • YOUR MARK THAT MEANS YOU DIDN'T SET THEM HIGH ENOUGH, RIGHT.

  • SO IN HEALTHCARE --

  • >> Jon: AM I BEING UNREASONABLE TO YOU, AM I BEING UNFAIR

  • SUGGESTING IN THIS ONE INSTANCE, GOVERNMENT FAILED TO ADDRESS A

  • PROBLEM IN AN APPROPRIATE TIME FRAME, FAILED TO DO IT --

  • >> I THINK YOU'RE BEING ENTIRELY FAIR THAT THE VA HAS NOT DONE

  • WHAT IT NEEDS TO DO IN TERMS OF OUR VETERANS, OKAY.

  • THAT IS SOMETHING THAT'S BUILT UP OVER 50 YEARS.

  • AND THE QUESTION THEN BECOMES --

  • >> Jon: WHOSE FAULT IS IT.

  • >> Jon: NO, NO, NO.

  • >> THE QUESTION IS, HOW DO WE SET THE RIGHT BENCHMARKS SO THAT

  • WE KNOW WE'RE MAKING PROGRESS AND WE'RE MOVING IN THE RIGHT

  • DIRECTION.