OMBlog

  • A Positive Step Forward for Our Nation and Economy

    Today’s passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 marks a positive step forward for the Nation and our economy.  This bipartisan legislation provides funding for investments in areas like education, infrastructure, and innovation – investments that will help grow our economy, create jobs, and strengthen the middle class.  It supports our national security by providing needed relief for the Defense Department from the untenable sequestration cuts that were undermining military readiness. It ensures the continuation of critical services the American people depend on. And it brings us closer to returning the budget process to regular order.

    Passage of this legislation ensures that we have appropriations for every agency in the Federal government, enabling them to more efficiently and effectively serve the American people and bringing greater certainty to businesses and communities across the country. Key areas that are positively impacted by the legislation include:

    • Early Learning: The legislation fully restores funding cuts to the Head Start program that were caused by sequestration and provides dedicated resources to improve early education by supporting State efforts to expand preschool for 4-year olds.  And the legislation provides additional funding to expand access to high-quality early education for tens of thousands of additional children through the launch of Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships.
    • Health Care: The legislation helps ensure we can continue to move forward in providing quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans through implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act improves many aspects of the Nation's health care system, such as preventing those with pre-existing conditions from being dropped or denied coverage.  It also provides tax credits to help pay for coverage and slows the growth of health care costs.
    • College Affordability: Funding is included to help bolster American competitiveness by supporting the development of innovative strategies to make college more affordable and help more students graduate on time with high-quality degrees that lead to good jobs.
    • Gun Safety: The legislation supports the Administration’s efforts to strengthen school safety and mental health initiatives to help protect our children from gun violence and provide those suffering from mental illness with the treatment they need.  It also includes funding for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, which will fund pilot sites for school districts to develop and implement innovative approaches to school safety.

  • The 2013 SAVE Award Winner

    And the 2013 SAVE Award winner is… Department of Veterans Affairs employee Kenneth Siehr of Milwaukee, Wisconsin!  Kenneth’s proposal received more than 16,000 votes out of more than 33,000 cast.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs sends the majority of outpatient prescriptions to patients via mail. Currently, in order for Veterans to track the delivery of mailed prescription medications they must call their local VA Medical Center directly.  Kenneth recommends saving pharmacy staff time and enhancing customer service by making the package tracking information available to Veterans online through the Veterans Health Administration’s existing web-based portal, MyHealtheVet.

    Keeping with tradition, Kenneth will have the opportunity to meet with President Obama in person in the Oval Office to discuss his winning idea.  Each of the finalists’ ideas will be incorporated in the President’s Budget and all other submissions will be considered for potential inclusion. 

    These ideas alone won’t solve our Nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, but they represent common-sense steps to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our government and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

    We thank everyone who submitted ideas for this year’s SAVE Award and congratulate our 2013 SAVE Award winner Kenneth Siehr.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget

  • Making Further Progress on Improper Payments

    Over the last four years, this Administration has made reducing the government-wide improper payment rate a priority.  Improper payments – those Federal payments made to the wrong entity, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason – represent a waste of taxpayer resources and undermine the integrity of critical government programs. 

    When the President took office in 2009, payment error rates were on the rise.  In fiscal year (FY) 2009, the improper payment rate was 5.42 percent.  Since then, the Administration, working together with Congress, has significantly reduced improper payments by strengthening accountability and transparency through yearly reviews by agency inspectors general, and expanded audits for high priority programs.

    As a result of this concerted effort, the improper payment rate declined to 3.53 percent in FY 2013 when factoring in Department of Defense commercial payments, compared to 3.74 percent in FY 2012 under the same accounting. Over the past year, we reduced improper payment rates in major programs across the government, including Medicaid, Medicare Advantage (Part C), Unemployment Insurance, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - Food Stamps), Pell Grants, and two Social Security programs – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance.  Furthermore, agencies recovered more than $22 billion in overpayments through payment recapture audits and other methods in FY 2013. 

    In programs administered at the local level, the Federal government has been working directly with States to ensure that appropriate corrective actions are put in place to reduce improper payments.  For example, through the Medicaid Integrity Program, Federal staff specializing in program integrity provide support to States in their efforts to combat Medicaid provider waste, fraud, and abuse.  In other instances, Federal agencies have implemented innovative techniques to ensure that benefit payments are accurate.  For example, the SSI program is using new methods to verify bank account balances and ensure beneficiaries meet program asset thresholds.

    The Administration is also advancing data analytics and improved technology to prevent improper payments before they happen.  For example, in January 2013, the President signed into law the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act which reinforces and accelerates the Administration’s “Do Not Pay” efforts, requiring all Federal agencies to check the “Do Not Pay” list before issuing payments and awards.

    OMB has also begun conducting a comprehensive analysis of agency-specific corrective actions to identify programs with the highest return-on-investment or potential for substantially reducing improper payments.  This analysis will help shape guidance on improper payments to be released in the months ahead.

    Improper payments represent an unacceptable waste of taxpayer resources. Moving forward, this Administration will continue its efforts to be effective stewards of taxpayer dollars by reducing improper payments and other instances of waste, fraud, and abuse.

    Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget

  • Improving Outcomes by Reducing Red Tape for Financial Assistance

    The Office of Management and Budget today published new guidance that significantly reforms and strengthens Federal grant-making to improve outcomes for the American people while reducing bureaucratic red-tape.   The new guidance is a key component of the Administration’s larger effort to more effectively focus Federal grant resources on improving performance and outcomes while ensuring the financial integrity of taxpayer dollars.  By streamlining eight Federal regulations into a single, comprehensive policy guide, the government can better administer the $600 billion awarded annually for grants and other types of financial assistance by decreasing administrative burden for recipients and reducing the risk of waste, fraud and abuse.

    The new uniform grants guidance improves on current policy by:

    • Eliminating duplicative and conflicting guidance;
    • Focusing on performance over compliance for accountability;
    • Encouraging efficient use of information technology and shared services;
    • Providing for consistent and transparent treatment of costs;
    • Limiting allowable costs to make the best use of Federal resources;
    • Setting standard business processes using data definitions;
    • Encouraging non-Federal entities to have family-friendly policies;
    • Strengthening oversight; and
    • Targeting audit requirements on risk of waste, fraud, and abuse.

    This guidance is the culmination of a two-year collaborative effort across the Federal government and its partners -- State and local governments, Indian tribes, research and higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, and the audit community -- to rethink and reform the rules that govern our stewardship of Federal dollars. 

    The reform effort embodies principles set forth by the President, who directed OMB to work with key stakeholders to evaluate potential reforms to Federal grants policies in Executive Order 13520 on Reducing Improper Payments and in the Presidential Memorandum on Administrative Flexibility, Lower Costs, and Better Results for State, Local, and Tribal Governments.  In addition, OMB and its partners are continuing complementary work to strengthen program outcomes through innovative and effective use of grant-making models, performance metrics, and evaluation, as described in OMB Memorandum M-13-17 on Next Steps in the Evidence and Innovation Agenda.

    Looking ahead, implementation of the new guidance will be spearheaded by the cross-agency Council on Financial Assistance Reform (COFAR), which worked closely with OMB on its development.  The COFAR will work with stakeholders to facilitate implementation, evaluate effectiveness, and keep this important reform effort moving forward.  We still have more to do, but we’re proud to announce these changes.  For more information, please visit www.cfo.gov/COFAR

    Beth Cobert is the Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget

  • The 2013 SAVE Award Final Four

    Since its creation in 2009, the President’s SAVE Award [Securing Americans Value and Efficiency] has tapped the knowledge and expertise of frontline Federal workers to help improve government performance and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

    Over the last five years, Federal employees have submitted tens of thousands of ideas through the SAVE Award on how to curb unnecessary spending and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations.

    Last year’s winning idea came from Frederick Winter of the Department of Education, who proposed that all Federal employees who receive public transit benefits shift from regular transit fare to the reduced senior fare as soon as they are eligible.  Fred’s idea, along with other SAVE Award proposals, was included in the President’s FY 2014 Budget.

    Today, we are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2013 SAVE Award. Keeping with tradition, the winner will present his or her idea to the President in the Oval Office, and other proposals will be directed to agencies for potential action or inclusion in the President’s FY 2015 Budget.

    With today’s announcement, public voting begins to select this year’s winner.  Voting can be done through the White House website at: www.whitehouse.gov/save-award.

    Here are the 2013 finalists:

    Kenneth Siehr, Online Tracking of Veterans Mail Prescription Deliveries. The Department of Veterans Affairs sends the majority of outpatient prescriptions to patients via mail. Currently, in order for Veterans to track the delivery of mailed prescription medications they must call their local VA Medical Center directly.  Kenneth recommends saving pharmacy staff time and enhancing customer service by making the package tracking information available to Veterans online through the Veterans Health Administration’s existing web-based portal, MyHeatheVet.

    Patrick Mindiola, Electronic Passport Notification. The State Department sends thousands of Information Request Letters (IRLs) in response to passport applications via regular mail. These mailings delay the processing time for applications and result in unnecessary added costs. Patrick recommends saving time and money by responding via email first, requesting any additional information needed and asking the applicants to verify submitted information. Mail notifications would be used only when email addresses are missing or returned, or if no response is received.

    Dirk Renner, Share Certifications Across Agencies. Dirk has worked for multiple federal agencies and recently found out that his USDA Forest Service All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) training was not transferable to the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, where he now works.  Dirk recommends allowing comparable agency certifications to transfer from agency to agency or between departments.  This change would save time and reduce duplicative training and travel costs for employees across the government. 

    Buyar Hayrula, Collect Custom Fines and Penalties Online.  Buyar suggests creating a secure website to allow Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agriculture specialists to collect payments by credit card at land ports of entry.  Currently, payment requests are often sent via mail when a cashier is not available. Automating this payment process would increase revenue collections and operational efficiencies at CBP while also helping reduce wait times for individuals entering the U.S. at land ports of entry.   

    As we have noted before, these ideas alone won’t solve our Nation’s fiscal challenges, but they represent common-sense ways to reduce costs and improve our government for the American people. Please take a moment to pick your favorite idea from the list and help us select the winner of this year’s SAVE Award.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget

  • Open Data Round Up

    On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed an Executive OrderMaking Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information, directing historic steps to make government-held data more accessible to the public, entrepreneurs, and others as fuel for innovation, economic growth, and government efficiency.

    Under the terms of the Executive Order and the Administration’s Open Data Policy, all newly-generated government data are required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats, which greatly enhances their accessibility and usefulness while continuing to ensure privacy and security. Federal agencies are also required to:

    • Create a Single Agency Data Inventory. Agencies are required to catalogue their data assets, just like they would inventory computers or desk chairs, to better manage and use these resources.
    • Publish a Public Data Listing. On their agency.gov/data pages, agencies are required to publish a list of their data assets that are public, or could be made public.
    • Develop New Public Feedback Mechanisms. Agencies are required to set up feedback mechanisms to engage the public about where agencies should focus open data efforts, such as facilitating and prioritizing the release of datasets. Agencies are also required to identify public points of contacts for agency datasets.

    While there is still much more work to do, we are excited to see the great progress being made by Federal agencies to unleash the power of open data. 

    Over a dozen agencies have launched webpages at agency.gov/data, making it easier for the public to find, understand, and use government data.  Many agencies have released—and will continue to release—new datasets, which are now available both on agencies’ public data webpages and on Data.gov.

    Federal agencies are also working to put processes in place to manage data more strategically. In fact, over 15 agencies have launched data working groups inside their agency to improve coordination around data management, data security and protection, and data release efforts. 

    Some examples of agency-specific efforts include:

    • The Department of Energy is offering a suite of new application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow software developers to access tools like a solar energy resource findervehicle gas mileage estimates, and a utility rate database, among others.  The agency recently launched the American Energy Data Challenge to identify great ideas for using energy data to solve some of America’s most pressing energy challenges. Read more here.
    • The Department of Transportation has made more than 2,000 datasets publicly available and easily accessible.  This includes data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that powers a SaferCar app that consumers can use to: compare NHTSA safety ratings for different vehicle models; locate child safety seat installation information; and track vehicle recalls. Read more here.
    • The Department of Veterans Affairs recently launched its agency open data webpage, which provides users with resources to connect to, and to more easily understand and navigate, the agency’s datasets. The webpage includes tools and resources that can be used to develop web and mobile applications and design data visualizations. The agency also highlights some of the datasets that are most valuable to its’ users, including a nationwide list of services for Homeless Vets including health care, mental health, job assistance, education, housing, and other benefits as well as a list of all benefits, services and resources available to family caregivers of veterans, including specific forms of compensation, support networks, and legal resources. Read more here.
    • The Department of Education launched its new agency data page, “ED Data Inventory”, which includes K-12 school performance data, school demographics, and data about colleges—including enrollments, graduation rates, faculty, and student financial aid.  Read more here.
    • The Department of the Treasury continues to encourage the release of open data sets across the federal government that can help spur financial innovations and empower consumers to make informed choices about their money. For example, the agency’s new public data listing page includes an interactive tool using data released by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on the number of notes printed each year in different denominations. The webpage also provides users new ways to learn from the agency’s aggregate IRS statistical data, which have long served to enhance market research, business planning, demographic analysis, state and local government research, and public policy analysis. On the new agency data webpage, the public can also access daily data summarizing the Treasury’s cash and debt operations, monthly statements, and more.  Read more here
    • The United States Department of Agriculture features datasets and tools such as the USDA National Farmers Market Directory and API, visualizations and data sets in the Economic Research Service, and a dynamic API for the National Agricultural Statistics Service. The public can also now access key research information about the world’s plant gene banks as well as new satellite-powered data and mapping tools on the condition of crops across the country. Read more here.

    Here at OSTP and OMB, we are also working to help agencies adopt the Administration’s Open Data Policy to unlock the potential of government data. We have made additional resources available to help Federal agencies make data open and available in machine-readable form, including guidance to agencies about how to inventory and publish their data assets, as well as free code, software tools, and case studies that any agency can use or add to, are available at the Project Open Data website.

    The General Services Administration, which administers Data.gov, also continues to make improvements to the website. Check out Next.data.gov—a design prototype of the next generation of Data.gov. We are eager to hear your thoughts about how to make it even better. You can provide feedback about the proposed design and functionality via TwitterQuoraGithub, or by sending an email

    Responsibly making government data open and widely reusable is good for the American people and our economy. We look forward to continuing the work ahead to increase access to our Nation’s valuable information resources, to improve government transparency and efficiency, and to fuel economic growth.

    Nick Sinai is U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer

    Haley Van Dyck is Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Information Officer

  • Impacts and Costs of the Government Shutdown

    As the President has said, the shutdown that occurred last month inflicted completely unnecessary damage on our economy and took a toll on families and businesses across the country. Today, OMB is releasing a report that catalogs the breadth and depth of this damage, and details the various impacts and costs of the October 2013 Federal government shutdown.

    The report explains in detail the economic, budgetary, and programmatic costs of the shutdown. These costs include economic disruption, negative impacts on Federal programs and services that support American businesses and individuals, costs to the government, and impacts on the Federal workforce.

    While the report covers a variety of areas, it highlights five key impacts and costs.

    First, Federal employees were furloughed for a combined total of 6.6 million days, more than in any previous government shutdown. At its peak, about 850,000 individuals per day were furloughed. That number fell once most Department of Defense civilian employees were able to return to work as the Pentagon implemented the Pay Our Military Act.

    Second, the shutdown cost the Federal government billions of dollars. The payroll cost of furloughed employee salaries alone – that is, the lost productivity of furloughed workers – was $2.0 billion. Beyond this, the Federal government also incurred other direct costs as a result of the shutdown. Fees went uncollected; IRS enforcement and other program integrity measures were halted; and the Federal government had to pay additional interest on payments that were late because of the shutdown.

    Third, the shutdown had significant negative effects on the economy. The Council of Economic Advisers has estimated that the combination of the shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship resulted in 120,000 fewer private sector jobs created during the first two weeks of October. And multiple surveys have shown that consumer and business confidence was badly damaged.

    The report highlights some of the more direct impacts the shutdown had on the economy by shutting down government services. For example:

    • Federal permitting and environmental and other reviews were halted, delaying job-creating transportation and energy projects.
    • Import and export licenses and applications were put on hold, negatively impacting trade.
    • Federal loans to small businesses, homeowners, and families in rural communities were put on hold.
    • Private-sector lending to individuals and small businesses was disrupted, because banks and lenders couldn’t access government income and Social Security Number verification services.
    • Travel and tourism was disrupted at national parks and monuments across the country, hurting the surrounding local economies.

    Fourth, the shutdown impacted millions of Americans who rely on critical programs and services halted by the shutdown. For example:

    • Hundreds of patients were prevented from enrolling in clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health.
    • Almost $4 billion in tax refunds were delayed.
    • Agencies from the Food and Drug Administration to the Environmental Protection Agency had to cancel health and safety inspections, while the National Transportation Safety Board was unable to investigate airplane accidents in a timely fashion.
    • Critical government-sponsored scientific research was put on hold. Notably, four of the five Nobel prize winning scientists who work for the Federal government were furloughed during the shutdown. 

    Fifth, the shutdown could have a long-term impact on our ability to attract and retain the skilled and driven workforce that the Federal government needs. The shutdown followed a three-year pay freeze for Federal employees, cuts in training and support, and, for hundreds of thousands of workers, administrative furloughs earlier this year because of sequestration. These cuts will make it harder for the government to attract and retain the talent it needs to provide top level service to the American people.

    The report makes clear that the costs and impacts of the shutdown were significant and widespread, and demonstrates why this type of self-inflicted wound should not occur again.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Refining Estimates of the Social Cost of Carbon

    As part of our ongoing effort to measure the impact of reducing carbon emissions, today we are issuing updated values for the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC), which are used to estimate the value to society of reducing carbon emissions.  These updated values reflect minor technical corrections to the estimates we released in May of this year.  For example, these technical corrections result in a central estimated value of the social cost of carbon in 2015 of $37 per metric ton of carbon dioxide (CO2), instead of the $38 per metric ton estimate released in May.

    At the same time, in response to public and stakeholder interest in SCC values, OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will provide a new opportunity for public comment on the estimates in addition to the public comment opportunities already available through particular rulemakings. Details on this public comment process will be published soon in the Federal Register.

    The estimate of the SCC has been developed over many years, using the best science available, and with input from the public. Rigorous evaluation of costs and benefits is a core tenet of the rulemaking process. It is particularly important in the area of climate change, which is already imposing tangible costs through impacts that include an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise.   

    In February 2010, after considering public comments on interim values that agencies used in a number of rules, an interagency group of technical experts, coordinated by OMB and the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), released improved SCC estimates. The interagency group estimated the improved SCC values using the most widely cited climate economic impact models. Those climate impact models, known as integrated assessment models, were developed by outside experts and published in the peer-reviewed literature.  Recognizing that the models underlying the SCC estimates would evolve and improve over time as scientific and economic understanding increased, the Administration committed in 2010 to regular updates of these estimates. 

    In May of this year, after all three of the underlying models were updated and used in peer-reviewed literature, and agencies received public comments urging them to update their estimates, the interagency group released revised SCC values. The May 2013 estimates reflect values that are similar to those used by other governments, international institutions, and major corporations. Those estimates have been out for public comment in several proposed rulemakings since May, and agencies have already received comments that are under review.

    The technical corrections to the May SCC values that we are issuing today represent the best available science and data on the economic impacts on society of climate change. We will continue to work to refine these estimates to ensure that agencies are appropriately measuring the social cost of carbon emissions as they evaluate the costs and benefits of rules. 

    Howard Shelanski is Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Deficit More Than Cut in Half Since 2009

    The Office of Management and Budget and the Department of the Treasury today released the fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget results, which show that we are continuing to make significant progress in reducing the deficit.  The final 2013 deficit was $680 billion, $409 billion less than the 2012 deficit and $293 billion less than forecast in President Obama’s April Budget.  As a percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the deficit fell to 4.1 percent, representing a reduction of more than half from the deficit that the Administration inherited when the President took office in 2009.  The deficit reduction since that point represents the fastest decline in the deficit over a sustained period since the end of World War II.

    The President believes that growing our economy and creating more good jobs with higher wages must be our top economic priority.  That is why he has consistently advocated a strategy to strengthen the middle class while improving our nation’s long-term fiscal position by cutting the deficit in a balanced way.  Under the President's leadership, we have already locked in more than $2.5 trillion of deficit reduction over the next decade, through a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases from asking the wealthiest to pay their share.

    In his 2014 Budget, the President presented a plan that would make critical investments to strengthen the middle class, create jobs, and grow the economy, while continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way. It is a plan that demonstrates that we do not need to choose between growing the economy and taking further action to reduce the deficit – we can do both.  Building on the $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction already locked in, the President’s plan would replace the economically damaging sequester while achieving additional deficit reduction to put Federal debt on a downward path as a share of the economy. And unlike sequestration, which includes no long-term deficit reduction, the President’s plan includes structural reforms that would generate growing savings in the second decade and beyond. 

  • Let’s Fill Those Empty Chairs

    As we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington today, we are reminded that much work remains to be done to make sure every child has the opportunity to succeed in life.  Investing in early education is one way to make meaningful progress toward that goal.

    Yet splashed across local news broadcasts last week were images of empty chairs sitting outside Head Start centers.  Each chair represented a child denied the chance at a strong start to his or her future due to the cuts imposed by sequestration.

    According to new state-by-states estimates released by the Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 57,000 children are being cut from Head Start this year because of sequestration. That includes more than 51,000 fewer children in Head Start and nearly 6,000 fewer children, families, and pregnant women in Early Head Start.

    If we continue to disinvest in our children and their futures, the harmful effects could last a lifetime. We need to get back on a path of smart investments in areas like early learning, which research has shown to be effective in improving school performance and putting students on the path to higher-paying jobs.  This is particularly true for low-income children, who often start kindergarten academically behind their peers by many months, though early education is valuable for middle-class families as well.

    The President’s FY 2014 Budget proposes a fully-paid for initiative to make high quality preschool available to all four-year olds, the creation of new Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships, and the extension and expansion of evidence-based voluntary home visiting services.  Together, these investments will help provide children with a strong foundation for success in school and in life.

    Martha B. Coven is Associate Director for Education, Income Maintenance, and Labor Programs

  • Progress Toward Opening Government Data Resources

    In May, the President signed an Executive Order to make government-held data more accessible to the public and to entrepreneurs and others as fuel for innovation, economic growth, and government efficiency. Under the terms of the Executive Order and a new Open Data Policy all newly generated government data will be required to be made available in open, machine-readable formats, greatly enhancing their accessibility and usefulness, while ensuring privacy and security.

    Today, we are building on this effort by releasing additional resources to help Federal agencies make data open and available in machine-readable form. Specifically, we are releasing additional guidance to agencies about how to inventory and publish their data assets, new FAQs about how open data requirements apply to Federal acquisition and grant-making processes, and a framework for creating measurable goals that agencies can use to track progress. All of this is openly available on the Project Open Data website, where additional case studies and free software tools for the agencies are also available.

    Opening up a wide range of government data means more entrepreneurs and companies using those data to create tools that help Americans find the right health care provider, identify a college that provides good value, find a safe place to live, and much more. It also empowers decision makers within government, giving them access to more information to enable smarter, data-driven decisions.  Responsibly making government data open and widely reusable is good for the American people, and good for the American economy.

    And to make it easier for the public and entrepreneurs to find, understand, and use open government data, we’re working to improve the central website about US government data – check out Next.Data.gov – a design prototype of the next generation of Data.gov. The team at Data.gov is shipping code every two weeks, and is eager to hear your thoughts about how to make it even better. You can provide feedback on Quora, Github, or Twitter.

    Nick Sinai, U.S. Deputy CTO, Office of Science and Technology Policy
    Dominic Sale, Supervisory Policy Analyst, Office of Management and Budget

  • Regulatory Lookback Eliminates Major Paperwork Burden

    Truck drivers have a tough job, and one that is essential to the U.S. economy. They work for small businesses and large; many are small business owners in their own right. They put in long days on the road.  And at the beginning and end of every one of those days, they have to inspect their trucks and file a report—even if they don’t find any problems.  It’s a lot of paperwork—about 50 million hours per year, if you add up all the daily inspection reports filed by drivers across the country. 

    But due to an initiative that President Obama launched in 2011 to eliminate unnecessary regulation, that’s about to change. Last week, the Department of Transportation announced a proposed rule that would ensure that drivers only have to file reports when they identify vehicle problems or have reason to think that problems might exist.  Drivers will still make inspections to ensure safety on the road, but they will no longer need to file reports when there’s nothing to report.  If finalized, this rule could save truckers, businesses, and American consumers $1.7 billion dollars annually in paperwork costs. 

    As Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, it is my job to review Federal agency regulations before they are issued.  Regulations are critical to protecting our health, safety, and environment. But some regulations that were well crafted when first issued can become unnecessary over time as conditions change—and regulations that aren’t providing real benefits to society need to be streamlined, modified, or repealed.  No one should be filing paperwork just for the sake of filing paperwork. 

    That is why President Obama, in January 2011, issued an Executive Order that called on agencies to streamline, modify, or repeal regulations on the books that impose unnecessary burdens or costs.  And he has since followed up with additional orders asking agencies to report regularly on their progress in reviewing existing rules, and asking independent agencies to perform a similar review of regulations on their books.

    This regulatory retrospective review, or “lookback,” initiative is producing real results—and last week’s Department of Transportation announcement is only one example.  More than two dozen agencies have produced review plans, and almost twenty independent agencies have also done so, addressing hundreds of rules across the government.  

    Just a small fraction of the retrospective review rules already finalized will save around ten billion dollars for the American public in the near term. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) removed unnecessary regulatory and reporting requirements on hospitals and other healthcare providers, saving more than $5 billion over the next five years.  And the Department of Labor (DOL) simplified and improved hazard warnings for workers, producing net benefits of more than $2.5 billion over the next five years, while strengthening worker safety.  Notably, many of the agency review efforts focus especially on benefitting small businesses, which are crucial engines of growth in our economy. 

    When the President launched this initiative in 2011, he stated that “We can make our economy stronger and more competitive, while meeting our fundamental responsibilities to one another.”  That statement is as true today as it was back then.  Review of existing regulations is a crucial part of ensuring that protecting our nation’s health, safety, and environment remains consistent with creating jobs and prosperity. This Administration will expand and further institutionalize our regulatory lookback efforts to ensure that we continue to identify rules that need to be modified, streamlined, or repealed.  And we will continue to carefully consider ideas and input from the public as we make these regulatory changes.  After all, no one should face unnecessary red tape.  It’s not good for truck drivers; it’s not good for the economy; and it’s not good for the American people.

    Howard Shelanski is Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget.

  • The American Dream, Aided By Open Government Data

    Yesterday in Phoenix, President Obama laid out his plan to create a better bargain for responsible, middle-class homeowners. And today, the President will answer questions submitted by homeowners, renters, and prospective buyers during a live conversation with the real estate site Zillow.
     
    For most Americans, buying a home is the largest purchase of their lives. That’s where a company like Zillow comes in -- helping families make informed decisions about buying a home and where to raise a family. Zillow is powered, in part, by open government data – including freely available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Census Bureau. Zillow uses these data sets to do things like help home buyers in a given region understand the point in years at which buying a home is more financially advantageous than renting the same home.
     
    Making government data resources publicly available in machine-readable form as fuel for new private-sector products and businesses is one example of how the President is working to make government smarter and more innovative for the American people.
     
    In May, the President issued a landmark Executive Order, Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information, and took historic steps to make large-scale additional government data resources publicly accessible, findable and usable. As the President said, “That’s going to help launch more start-ups. It’s going to help launch more businesses. It’s going to help more entrepreneurs come up with products and services that we haven’t even imagined yet.”
     
    We’re excited about what innovative companies like ZillowTruliaEstatelyRedfin, and others have done and can do with open government data to help people looking for the right homes for their families. This is innovation born of the potent combination of open data and private sector entrepreneurship – innovation that helps Americans and creates jobs. 
     
    Check out the President’s answers to your housing questions right here at 1:00 p.m. ET.
     
    Todd Park, U.S. CTO and Assistant to the President. Steven VanRoekel, U.S. CIO and Acting Deputy Director of Management.

  • The 2013 SAVE Award

    Today, we launched the fifth annual SAVE Award (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) – a competition for Federal employees to submit their ideas for how to cut waste, save taxpayer dollars, and create a more efficient and effective government.

    Borne out of the President’s belief that the best ideas often come from those on the front lines, Federal employees have submitted more than 85,000 ideas over the last four years through the SAVE Award. Recommendations have ranged from implementing new measures that conserve energy to eliminating paper copies of publications that are available online to using ground shipping instead of next-day service when mailing non-urgent packages. 

    These simple, yet innovative ideas are already making a difference. The President’s last four budgets have included over 80 SAVE Award proposals that are saving hundreds of millions of dollars and improving the way government operates. We know these ideas alone won’t solve the Nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, but they represent common-sense steps to improve government and provide a better value to the American people.

    So, if you’re a Federal employee, go to www.WhiteHouse.gov/save-award and send us your idea on how to save money and create efficiencies within your agency and across government. And everyone else, stay tuned. We’ll be looking to you in the next few months to help us pick a winner!

    Steve Posner is the Associate Director for Strategic Planning and Communications in the Office of Management and Budget

  • Coming Together to Combat Online Piracy and Counterfeiting

    Today, 24/7 Media, Adtegrity, AOL, Condé Nast, Google, Microsoft, SpotXchange, and Yahoo!, with the support of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, committed to a set of best practices to address online infringement by reducing the flow of ad revenue to operators of sites engaged in significant piracy and counterfeiting. The Administration strongly supports voluntary efforts by the private sector to reduce infringement and we welcome the initiative brought forward by the companies to establish industry-wide standards to combat online piracy and counterfeiting by reducing financial incentives associated with infringement. We believe that this is a positive step and that such efforts can have a significant impact on reducing online piracy and counterfeiting.

    It is critical that such efforts be undertaken in a manner that is consistent with all applicable laws and with the Administration’s broader Internet policy principles emphasizing privacy, free speech, fair process, and competition. We encourage the companies participating to continue to work with all interested stakeholders, including creators, rightholders, and public interest groups, to ensure that their practices are transparent and fully consistent with the democratic values that have helped the Internet to flourish. We also encourage other participants in the online advertising space to consider adopting voluntary initiatives that protect ad networks, publishers, advertisers, creators, rightholders, and above all, consumers.

    The Administration is committed to reducing infringement of American intellectual property. We will continue to pursue a comprehensive approach to the problems associated with infringement, including increased law enforcement, educational awareness, and increased cooperation with our trading partners in order to promote innovation, support jobs, increase exports, and maintain our global competitiveness.

    Today's news is a good example of how the public and private sector can work to combat piracy and counterfeiting while protecting and, in fact, further encourage the innovation made possible by an open Internet.

    Learn more about the Administration’s commitment and ongoing efforts to protect intellectual property as a key driver of our economy in my blog post here and in the 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement.

    Victoria Espinel is the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

    Statements announcing the new voluntary initiative can be found below:

  • Pay for Success - An Innovative Approach to Improve Results and Save Money

    This week, the President met with his Cabinet and other senior officials to lay out his vision for building a smarter, more effective government. The President challenged his Administration to build on the progress made over the first term and improve government even further.

    To help meet that challenge, the White House gathered a diverse array of leaders from the private sector, nonprofits, philanthropy, academia, and federal, state and local government to advance one of the ways that this Administration is thinking outside the box – “Pay for Success.”

    Pay for Success offers innovative ways for the government to partner with philanthropic and private investors to fund proven and promising practices, significantly enhancing the return on taxpayer investments. Under this model, these organizations provide the up-front capital for social services with a strong evidence base that, when successful, achieve measurable outcomes that improve the lives of families and individuals and reduce their need for future services. Government pays when these measurable results are achieved.

    For example, the Department of Labor has launched a Pay for Success competition through the Workforce Innovation Fund designed to model new and more effective strategies for delivering workforce development and preventive social services that cut across existing program siloes, increase job placement and improve job retention.

  • Mid-Session Review 2014

    OMB today released the Mid-Session Review (MSR), which updates the Administration’s estimates for outlays, receipts, and the deficit in light of economic, legislative, and other developments since release of the President’s 2014 Budget. 

    The MSR shows that the projected deficit in 2013 has decreased by more than $200 billion as compared to the projection included in the Budget.  The 2013 deficit is now projected to be 4.7 percent of GDP.  That is down from a deficit of 10.1 percent four years ago – representing the fastest period of deficit reduction since the years immediately following World War II. 

    Going forward, the MSR shows that, under the President’s Budget, deficits will be reduced to below 3 percent of GDP by 2017 and continue to fall to about 2 percent in 2023.  Importantly, the MSR also shows that the Budget achieves a core goal of fiscal sustainability by putting Federal debt on a declining path as a share of the economy.

    The President believes our top priority must be strengthening the true engine of economic growth – a rising and thriving middle class.  He will continue to pursue policies to accelerate the recovery, speed job creation, and expand the middle class.  The 2014 Budget demonstrates that we do not need to choose between making critical investments necessary to help grow our economy and support middle class families and continuing to cut the deficit in a balanced way. 

    To once again make America a magnet for jobs, the Budget invests in high-tech manufacturing and innovation, clean energy, and infrastructure, while cutting red tape to help businesses grow.  To give workers the skills they need to compete in the global economy, it invests in education and job training, and sets forth a visionary proposal to ensure every four-year-old has access to high quality pre-school.  To ensure hard work is rewarded, it builds ladders of opportunity to help every American and every community. By identifying offsets for each of these initiatives, the Budget invests in the potential of the middle class and our economy while keeping us on a fiscally disciplined long-term path.

    The Budget includes more than enough deficit reduction to replace the economically damaging sequester while exceeding the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction and putting our debt on a downward path as a share of the economy. And unlike sequestration, which includes zero long-term deficit reduction, the President’s plan includes structural reforms that will generate growing savings in the second decade and beyond.

    Washington’s top priority must be spurring job creation and strengthening the middle class. The President’s Budget embodies these goals and charts a path to a stronger economy and a more secure fiscal future for the years to come.

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • A Smarter, More Innovative Government for the American People

    Watch this video on YouTube

    One of the President’s first priorities after taking office in 2009 was to bring a government built for the 20th century into the 21st century. Over the last four years, we’ve made great progress to advance this goal, thanks in large part to the integration of new technologies and innovations across the Administration.

    This morning, the President held a meeting with his Cabinet and senior officials to lay out his vision for building a better, smarter, faster government over the course of his second term. During the meeting, the President directed Cabinet members and key officials in his Administration to build on the progress made over the first term, and he challenged us to improve government even further.

    To help members of the Cabinet and Administration officials find more innovative ways to deliver better results, the Administration recently welcomed a second class of Presidential Innovation Fellows – 43 highly talented and motivated individuals chosen out of more than 2,000 applicants. The first class of 18 Presidential Innovation Fellows worked hand-in-hand with top government innovators to develop solutions that are delivering smart-government solutions to taxpayers at a lower cost.

  • Intellectual Property: A Key Driver of our Economy

    Innovation and creativity have always been the foundation of our economy, and effective enforcement of intellectual property rights enables us to promote economic growth, ensure our global competitiveness, and protect the health and safety of our citizens. Today’s release of the Administration’s 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement builds on our efforts to protect intellectual property to date, and provides a roadmap for our work over the next three years. In preparing the 2013 Joint Strategic Plan, we solicited public comment on how to improve our approach, and that public input was invaluable in drafting the final version of the Joint Strategic Plan. We will continue to seek public views on how to best promote and protect intellectual property rights.

    Intellectual property is a key driver of our economy. So it matters that we have the right approach to intellectual property enforcement; one that is thoughtful, dedicated and effective, and that makes good and efficient use of our resources.

    Ours is a Nation of entrepreneurs, inventors, and artists. The ideas that American citizens generate catalyze cutting edge research, ensure longer and healthier lives, and power the globe’s most productive economy. Our ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit make the United States great, and we must fiercely defend that competitive advantage. As President Obama has said, “If the playing field is level, I promise you – America will always win.”

  • Stopping Excessive Payments for Contractor Compensation

    Next week, the Administration will be transmitting to Congress a legislative proposal to stop excessive payments to Federal contractors. The proposal builds on previous Administration proposals and language included in the President’s Budget, and marks another important step in our ongoing effort to buy smarter and end wasteful, fiscally imprudent contract spending.

    Under current law, contractors that are paid based on their incurred costs (which represents about one-third of current contract spending) may demand reimbursement for executive salaries, bonuses and other compensation up to the level of the Nation’s top private sector CEOs and other senior executives. This taxpayer reimbursement level has skyrocketed by more than 300 percent since the law was enacted in the mid-1990s. Taxpayers have been required, by law, to foot this unaffordable expense, despite the fact that this rapidly increasing cost has had little bearing on the value agencies receive under their government contracts.