Oval Office

1:39 P.M. EST
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Well, folks, thanks for coming in.  I was telling my Cabinet before you all came in that when I was a kid — in grade school and high school and college — one of my closest friends was a guy named Pete McLaughlin.  And if you’re a real basketball fan, he was the “sixth man” on the Riordan-Walker team in Providence College back in the — back in the late ‘60s. And — anyway.
 
And he used to have an expression when someone would say something to us.  (Inaudible) say, “Look, you got to know how to know.”  “You got to know how to know.”  Unfortunately, he passed away some time ago. 
 
But, you know, you can go on the Library of Congress and, if you don’t know how to read the card catalog, it doesn’t do you much good; it’s all a matter of luck.  
 
And since I got involved in public office and got elected, I’ve really — not a joke — I’ve tried starting my home office in my home state — like, get to a point where people could get their — we assume — bureaucracies assume that people understand how they function.  But it’s, really, a very complicated web for the vast majority of people, whether they have PhDs or high school educations.
 
And so, today, I’m signing an executive order to ensure — to ensure that the federal government puts you, the American people, at the front of the line and for — first in everything we do. 
 
I’m directing 17 agencies here to focus on more than 30 key areas to make it easier to apply for services and benefits that they’re entitled to and they’ve paid for and is theirs, their government.
 
Let me give a few examples.  For millions of people who retire each year, you should be able to apply for Social Security benefits without needing to go to a Social Security office and have Medicare proactively reach out to you with the tools you need to manage your health and save money. 
 
Or if you’re one of the tens of millions of people who move each year, you should be able to take and update your address one time, in one place, and check off which agencies that new information should go to instead of going to each one separately to let them know.
 
And you’ll see better technology to speed security lines and wait times at our national airports; make filings and refunds to the IRS more — more rapid; and for disaster aid, which I was talking a little bit earlier today about; and to student loans.  The list goes on.
 
The bottom line is we’re going to make the government work more effectively for the American citizens so it’s not as confusing and it’s straightforward.  And we’re going to — because I believe this will go a long way to restoring faith in government. 
 
I know it sounds like a simple thing, but I think it’s pretty consequential.  And so, I’m about to sign that now.  And I’d ask all the Cabinet members to come around behind me here, if you would.
 
 I used to wonder how Barack did this all in one (inaudible).  (Laughter.)
 
(The executive order is signed.)
 
Thank you.  (Applause.)
 
1:45 P.M. EST

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