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$100 Million in Savings, Pinch by Pinch

By Ed O'Keefe



Newspapers are one of many items on the government chopping block (Getty)

Remember back in April when President Obama ordered the Cabinet to come up with $100 million in costs savings? And remember when critics blasted the plan as too little too late?

Government penny-pinchers have found a way to save $102 million this fiscal year and another $140 million during fiscal year 2010.

The solution? Install energy-efficient lights, make use of that teleconferencing software you've been meaning to use, fire the travel agents, reduce paper costs and (gulp!) cancel newspaper subscriptions.

Here's a general review of cost-saving trends spotted among the 77 proposed cuts (Leave your thoughts -- and proposed cuts -- in the comments section below):

Meetings:

The Education Department plans to save $65,000 per year by holding D.C.-based conferences of up to 250 people in auditoriums at its two Washington buildings.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development will cut travel costs to two meetings, saving $295,000 in FY '09 and '10. (No details on how many employees this impacts, where the meetings were once held and how much each employee spent on travel costs.)

Go Paperless:

The Department of Homeland Security will save at least $317,765 when it stops printing documents and starts distributing them online. The department will also save $47,160 over two years by canceling newspaper subscriptions in favor of free, online news Web sites (Another reason NOT to install pay walls!)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will also save $1,000 this fiscal year by converting its daily news clips distribution from paper to e-mail. (What will the press shop interns do now?)

Meanwhile, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services plans to save $100,000 in FY '10 by requiring all employees to receive electronic versions of their earnings and leave statements. The Justice Department will do the same, saving $890,000 starting next year. (One wonders if the government will start distributing pink slips via e-mail as well.)

HUD will stop printing two annual reports that it instead can post online, saving $21,000 next year.

Finally, in an effort to save on paperless costs, the Navy will deactivate inactive computer accounts, saving $10,000 over two years on the costs to manage them.

Building Costs:

The Labor Department will move field staff from commercial buildings to nearby federal facilities between 2011 and 2014, which will could create $12.5 million in long-term savings.

The Treasury Department will upgrade its lighting system, turn off air conditioning during the evenings and weekends and shut off computers when not in use. It's also renegotiated its electricity contract to a lower rate. All of these (genius!) decisions mean $553,000 in savings in FY '09 and FY '10. The Justice Department will also save $35,000 each fiscal year by turning off computers. It will use software to automatically shut down machines not in use after a certain period of time.

Cutting Travel Costs:

Expect less leg-room on R&R flights chartered by the Army, as it plans to pack more soldiers onto the chartered flights, saving at least $33.1 million this year and next.

The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Geological Survey and the office of the Interior secretary plan to save a combined $988,000 in FY '09 and '10 by using online travel tools instead of human travel agents.

Gassing Up:

The Air Force will stop using JP-8 jet fuel and switch to commercial Jet A fuel in fiscal year 2010, saving about $51.7 million.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | July 29, 2009; 12:41 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Workplace Issues  
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