The White House isn't the only part of the Reagan administration with a flair for the theatrical. Witness the Commerce Department's S*M*A*R*T program, kicked off by Secretary Malcolm Baldrige in July, 1981, with a poster featuring TV actor Don Adams (who played Maxwell Smart in the old "Get Smart" television series) and bolstered in February, when a real live circus brought animals, jugglers and magicians to the department auditorium.
S*M*A*R*T, asterisks aside, stands for Save Money and Reduce Taxes. The idea is to get every Commerce worker to think of ways to make government more efficient. It's an employe suggestion box on a grand scale.
Commerce officials credit the program with saving about $20 million in the last 20 months. But most of the savings came from management suggestions, including some that resulted in employe layoffs and thus saved payroll bucks. Employe suggestions saved only $500,000 or so, officials said.
In an effort to pump up that figure, the department has launched a campaign to draw more ideas from the rank-and-file. The rewards range from coffee mugs (awarded to anyone who turns in a "valid" suggestion) to bonus checks.
A new feature is a quarterly lottery, the first of which is set for Monday. A "valid" suggestion is an entry ticket, and Deputy Secretary Guy W. Fiske will draw three lucky winners. Department spokesman Joe Slye says the prize hasn't been decided yet, but it will "probably be money, savings bonds or that kind of thing."
Lest anyone think this freewheeling enterprise falls outside the government norms, rest assured that all management-by-objective guidelines apply. A "goals and procedures" manual sports a table showing how many suggestions came from each Commerce division in fiscal 1982 and how many suggestions will be expected from that division in fiscal 1983.
The biggie of Commerce divisions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is expected to come up with 581 suggestions this year; the tiny U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration is scheduled for three. "In the event of significant changes in bureau population," the manual says, "goals will be revised accordingly."
The manual also warns that division managers "will be accountable for submitting an accurate and timely report" and promises that the processing of time- and money-saving tips "from date-stamping of incoming suggestion within the servicing personnel office to sending the suggester the evaluation results, is not expected to exceed 73 calendar days."
There's even an appeals procedure for turned-down tips. Slye says that is to guard against unfair reviews, "which could be done by someone who is opposed to new ways of doing things." COMMERCE SEAL, CONT. . . . Speaking of suggestions, more than 70 amateur designers responded to a recent call for ideas on changing the departmental seal. The 10 drawings that made it through a preliminary review are now gathering dust in Baldrige's office.
The idea was to bring the seal, which now features a sailing ship and a lighthouse, into harmony with the department's expanded role in trade and technology. "Into the satellite age," one official said..
But Commerce's satellites are on the auction block, and trade legislation pending on Capitol Hill might alter its trade mission as well. Until the uncertainties are settled, the old department seal will stay in place. SHORT TAKES . . . Patrons with light fingers threaten to strip the shelves bare at the Patent and Trademark Office, where officials say that 26 percent of the materials borrowed from its scientific library are never seen again. A security system, inaugurated last week, trips an alarm if printed materials are taken out without being desensitized at the circulation desk . . . . William Morris Jr., who promoted coal exports as assistant Commerce secretary for trade development, has signed on as a vice president of P&C Bituminous Coal Inc. in Nashville. His job: international marketing.