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U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
Press Statement

Media Note
December 19, 2000

International Visitor Information Exchange Management System Team
Earns Vice President's Hammer Award

In a ceremony at the Department of State, Vice President Gore's Hammer Award was presented on December 18 to the Department's International Visitor Information Exchange Management System (IVIEMS) Team of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs - Office of International Visitors. Working with its private sector partners, the team successfully implemented the Vice President's reinvention formula that when fully implemented will lead to an estimated savings of $1.2 million and increased productivity for the federal government.

The IVIEMS team demonstrated innovative leadership in designing an international network of databases, connected through the Internet and websites, to benefit the Department of State's International Visitor (IV) Program and more than 100 private sector partners. The network includes common databases installed in U.S. embassies worldwide and in U.S. cities and towns in over 100 locations. As a result of the IVIEMS, all the public and private sector partners engaged /in the International Visitor Program receive the information they need in convenient form and timely fashion, as well as an infrastructure that provides for ongoing expansion and improvements. IV Program partners worked as a team over the past two years to create an open transparent system to move and manage business information through the IVIEMS. They improved ways of conducting their core business and found new ways of collaborating to produce a better program.

"What we've been able to accomplish with our reinventing government program is to connect our citizens with government to help deliver services more efficiently and effectively, and give our employees the tools they need to do their jobs better," said Michael S. Messinger, Chief of Staff and Deputy Director of the Vice President's National Partnership for Reinventing Government. "This Team demonstrated that it could collaboratively work to solve a problem, cut through the red tape of bureaucracy and focus on a specific result." Mr. Messinger presented the Hammer Award on behalf of the Vice President along with Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Patrick F. Kennedy.

According to IVIEMS Team leaders Terry Blatt, Richard Fitz and Bill May, the team "broke the rules and put the partners who do the work in the driver's seat." The team's results benefit the program partners, the American taxpayer, and the public at large. The IV Program now is more creative and productive in bringing more than 4,500 foreign leaders to the U.S. each year to meet their counterparts and learn about the basic values and achievements of our diverse society. Moreover, this reinvention will result in the engagement of more Americans in the important work of U.S. public diplomacy.

"The IVIEMS represents a breakthrough in conducting the State Department's International Visitor Program and allows our members to take advantage of available technology to help make their jobs easier," explained Dr. Sherry L. Mueller, Executive Director of the National Council for International Visitors. "This software will provide NCIV members quicker and easier access to information about upcoming projects and visitors and will eliminate the need to re-key vast amounts of date, thus saving their valuable time for what they do best - organize professional and cultural programs for and interact with the international visitors themselves."

In 1993, challenged by President Clinton to create a Government that works better, costs less and gets results Americans care about, Vice President Gore created the Hammer Award to recognize the innovative and important work done by the American government worker. The award recognizes the efforts of those federal employees teams that have successfully reinvented a process or program in order to make it work better and cost less. Consisting of a $6 hammer and a note from the Vice President in an aluminum frame, bedecked with a big red, white and blue ribbon, the award symbolizes a tool that is useful to tear down an outmoded structure and also is very useful in building something new and better in its place.

For further information, please contact Catherine Stearns, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at (202) 619-5053 or

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers the International Visitor Program, operating under authority of the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act of 1961 (Fulbright-Hays Act). The emphasis of the program is to increase mutual understanding through communication at the personal and professional levels.

The International Visitor Program brings participants to the United States from all over the world each year to meet and confer with their professional counterparts and to experience the United States firsthand. The visitors, who are current or potential leaders in government, politics, the media, education, and other fields, are selected by American Foreign Service Officers overseas. More than 186 current and former Heads of State, 1,500 cabinet-level ministers, and many other distinguished world leaders in government and the private sector have participated in the International Visitor Program. For more information, log-on to