Federal worker cost-cutting finalists announced
As the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans prepare to debate a series of government cost-cutting proposals in the coming months, the White House on Monday will tout four money saving ideas proposed by federal workers that would help make small cuts in the federal deficit and lead to more losses for the U.S. Postal Service and newspaper industry.
The four ideas, gleaned from about 18,000 submissions, are part of the second annual White House Save Award, a contest that seeks cost-cutting ideas from rank and file federal employees. The general public and federal employees will be able to vote on the four top ideas in an online poll. The worker who submitted the winning idea will meet with President Obama, who then plans to include the winning idea in his proposed fiscal year 2012 budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Last year's winning ideas, including one that allowed veterans treated at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals to take home leftover medicines, are at varying degrees of implementation, OMB said.
The contest's four finalists work for the Bureau of Prisons, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the Department of Homeland Security and Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA):
-- Marjorie Cook is an FSIS inspector from Bangor, Mich. who noticed that the agency requires inspectors to ship about 125,000 samples to labs each year using FedEx's "Express Next Day" service. The labs use the same fast shipping method to ship back empty containers. "We could save a bundle by having those boxes shipped back through regular ground service," Cook wrote in her contest submission, according to OMB.
-- Paul Behe, a Cleveland paralegal specialist, suggested the Department of Homeland Security should advertise property seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection online instead of in newspapers, saving the agency both time and money. Behe's office has more than 900 cases of seized property waiting in storage to be processed and advertised, he said.
-- Thomas Koenning of Littleton, Colo., works for MSHA's information technology center and suggested requiring mine operators to report quarterly coal production and employment data online to save on paper and postage costs. The move also would help MSHA more accurately process mine health and safety data and reduce human error.
-- Trudy Givens, of Portage, Wisc., is a 19-year employee of the Bureau of Prisons who noticed that her coworkers don't use copies of the Federal Register sent to her office every work day. Approximately 8,000 federal employees receive paper copies of the publication, but could instead do so on the Register's recently revamped Web site, she said. The Register should instead allow recipients to opt-in for hard copy deliveries, an option that would likely reduce postage and printing costs, she said.
OMB could not provide exact figures on the potential savings, but estimated that the ideas could each save between six and eight figures annually -- providing little relief to the trillion-dollar deficits anticipated in the next decade.
Despite the small savings, administration officials consider the contest an opportunity to promote "a cultural shift" among federal employees, encouraging them to stretch taxpayer dollars farther, officials said.
Federal workers may begin voting Monday at www.SaveAward.gov. The winning idea will be announced at a later date.
Do you like the ideas? Would you suggest other ones? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below
• Cabinet and Staff News: In India, President Obama faces questions about Pakistan. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are also on the India trip. Obama also keeping his core staff intact. A review of a new book about Vice President Biden. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton complements an official's "excellent bling." Defense Secretary Robert Gates urges Congress to move fast on "don't ask, don't tell" and the START Treaty. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner faces Asian headwinds. Does the federal government need a chief operating officer? The primary architect of the federal Head Start program has died. Five myths about George W. Bush.
• Fresh slate at the Pentagon lies ahead for Obama: He'll have to make several new appointments for civilian and leadership positions in the next year.
• U.S. drones on hunt in Yemen: They're hunting for al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen for the first time in years but have not fired missiles from the unmanned aircraft.
GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION:
• Workers on alert after breach of data: Officials apologized to employees for the incident in a letter dated Oct. 25 -- almost six weeks after the breach occurred.
• 4 competitors protest award of $2.6 billion IT contract to Northrop Grumman: Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Serco and L-3 Communications are all crying foul to the Government Accountability Office, which is set to rule by early next year.
OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE CURRENCY:
• Regulators flawed in foreclosure oversight: OCC chose not to scrutinize the foreclosure operations of the largest national banks, forgoing any examination of their procedures and paperwork.
| November 8, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Budget, Eye Opener
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