Vilsack, Napolitano Find Ways to Trim the Fat
On the same day President Obama announced an overhaul of government procurement practices, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced millions of dollars in savings at both departments.
These are relatively small sums compared to the overall size of the federal budget, but a signal that the Obama administration intends to trim some fat.
Among other things, USDA cancelled a $400,000 consulting contract with Stan Johnson, "who had a close connection with the previous administration," Vilsack said. Johnson is currently an assistant to the dean at the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno.
"It was a consulting contract for half a million dollars; a substantial amount of money was spent for foreign travel," Vilsack said. "To be honest with you, we saw very little, if any, value to the USDA. And a number of career folks were very concerned about how the process unfolded. And had their input been valued, the contract would not have been entered into."
Johnson did not reply to email or phone messages left for him by the Federal Eye.
The department has also trimmed travel expenses for employees asked instead to use teleconferencing software to attend meetings. A White House news release sent out after the cabinet secretaries' appearance listed other cost savings totaling approximately $20 million.
At DHS, Napolitano said the department is reviewing "things like fleet management, use of contract employees, employee travel and cross-training." The secretary has also ordered a review of the department's contracting and acquisition workforce and said the department began independent cost estimations for its major acquisitions.
Again, today's announcements amount to small sums of money when compared to Obama's $3.6 trillion budget for the coming fiscal year, but it seems clear the cabinet secretaries and other administration officials are looking for big and small ways to cut costs.
Where else or how else could the federal government save money? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by: justb_001 | March 12, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse
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