OMBlog

  • 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. 

  • Digital Strategy: Delivering Better Results for the Public

    Today marks one year since we released the Digital Government Strategy (PDF/ HTML5), as part of the President’s directive to build a 21st Century Government that delivers better services to the American people.

    The Strategy is built on the proposition that all Americans should be able to access information from their Government anywhere, anytime, and on any device; that open government data - data that are publicly accessible in easy-to-use formats - can fuel innovation and economic growth; and that technology can make government more transparent, more efficient, and more effective.

  • Building a 21st Century Infrastructure: Better Outcomes, Faster Timelines, and Less Red Tape

    President Obama today signed a Presidential Memorandum that will shave months, and even years, off the time it takes to review and approve major infrastructure projects. This means that states, local governments, and private developers will be able to start construction sooner, create jobs earlier, and fix our nation’s infrastructure faster.

    On March 22, 2012, the President issued an Executive Order launching a government-wide initiative to improve the efficiency of federal review and permitting of infrastructure projects. Since then, agencies have expedited the review and permitting of 50 major projects, including bridges, transit , railways, waterways, roads, and renewable energy projects.  

    Federal agencies have also identified a set of best practices for efficient review and permitting. Those range from expanding information technology (IT) tools to strategies - like simultaneous review - for improving collaboration. Today’s Presidential Memorandum directs all relevant agencies to put these best practices into effect.

    Cutting red tape and streamlining the process for making permitting decisions will help us meet the President’s goal of cutting in half the timelines for major infrastructure projects, while creating better outcomes for our communities and for the environment.

    The President’s initiative is already showing real results. For example, this afternoon, President Obama and Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari will visit Baltimore, where we sped up the approval process for the city’s Red Line rail transit corridor by six months.

    We also recently expedited Federal approval for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project in New York. By speeding up the approval process, Federal agencies trimmed up to three years off the timeline for this multi-billion dollar project that will help put Americans back to work.

  • A Plan to Create Jobs and Cut the Deficit

    Ed. Note: This op-ed originally appeared in regional newspapers across the country.

    The President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Budget is a concrete plan to create jobs and cut the deficit. We do not need to choose between these two priorities. The President’s balanced, compromise plan proves we can do both.

    The guiding principle behind the President’s plan is reigniting America’s engine of economic growth: a rising, thriving middle class. The plan is focused on addressing three fundamental questions:  How do we attract more jobs to our shores? How do we equip our people with the skills needed to do the jobs of the 21st Century? How do we make sure hard work leads to a decent living? 

    To make America once again a magnet for jobs, the Budget invests in high-tech manufacturing, clean energy, and infrastructure, laying the foundation for more rapid business growth. These investments will ensure that the jobs of the future are created in America and we stay on the cutting edge of innovation. To give workers the skills they need to compete in the global economy, it invests in education and job training, including a “Preschool for All” initiative to ensure children across the country are prepared to succeed. To ensure hard work leads to a decent living, it raises the minimum wage to $9.00 so an honest day’s work pays more.

    The Budget does all of these things as part of a comprehensive plan that cuts the deficit and puts the nation on a sound fiscal course. Every new initiative in the plan is fully paid for – not adding a single dime to the deficit. 

    To be clear, we have already made important progress in cutting the deficit. Over the past few years, Democrats and Republicans have cut the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion through a mix of spending cuts and raising income tax rates on the wealthiest Americans. This progress puts us more than halfway toward the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say is needed to put us on a fiscally sustainable path.

    Now we need to finish the job. That is why the President stands by the compromise offer he made to House Speaker Boehner during “fiscal cliff” negotiations this past December. These proposals would achieve $1.8 trillion in additional deficit reduction over the next 10 years, bringing total deficit reduction to $4.3 trillion while replacing the damaging, arbitrary cuts of the sequester. This deficit reduction is comprised of more than $2 of spending cuts for every $1 of new revenue from closing tax loopholes and reducing tax breaks for the wealthiest. And it takes further steps to address the largest driver of long-term deficits – rising health care costs – by including $400 billion in health savings that crack down on waste and fraud and strengthen Medicare for years to come.

    By including this compromise offer made to Speaker Boehner in the Budget, the President is demonstrating his willingness to make tough choices to find common ground to further reduce the deficit. This offer includes some difficult cuts that the President would not propose on their own, such as an adjustment to inflation indexing requested by Republicans. But there can be no sacred cows for either party.

    Importantly, the Budget’s deficit reduction proposals are designed to accelerate the recovery by replacing the damaging sequester and making smart investments in jobs, while protecting the most vulnerable – adhering to two key principles laid out in the bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Commission proposal.  

    The House and Senate have now both passed budget proposals. By returning to the regular order process that members of Congress say they want, we are hopeful that a bipartisan agreement can be reached.

    Our country continues to face significant fiscal and economic challenges. But they are surmountable. By working together, we have already made progress in reducing the deficit and restoring economic growth and job creation. The President’s Budget provides a specific and responsible plan for continuing this progress. It shows how we can live within our means while further growing the economy, strengthening the middle class, and securing the nation’s future.

    Jeff Zients is the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

  • Building a 21st Century Government by Cutting Duplication, Fragmentation, and Waste

    Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report identifying areas where there are opportunities to reduce fragmentation, overlap, and duplication, or achieve cost savings.  In addition, the report provides an update on actions being taken by Congress and the Administration to address the recommendations identified by GAO over the last two years.

    We appreciate GAO’s work in these important areas. The Administration is strongly committed to reducing duplication and fragmentation and has worked hard over the last four years to make that happen. 

    From day one, the President has made rooting out waste and improving the way government works a top priority. 

    In June 2011, the President and Vice President launched the Campaign to Cut Waste, aimed at identifying and eliminating wasteful, inefficient or duplicative spending wherever it may exist in government.  This initiative has already saved taxpayers billions of dollars. And, in February 2012 the President submitted a proposal to Congress to reinstate Presidential authority to reorganize Federal agencies to reduce the number of overlapping government programs, all with an eye towards eliminating duplication and making government more efficient.  In addition, each year the President’s Budget has included hundreds of proposals for ways to cut, consolidate or save money on programs that are inefficient, duplicative, or simply no longer needed, translating into hundreds of billions of dollars in savings. 

    The Budget that the President will release tomorrow goes even further, including 215 cuts, consolidations, and savings proposals, which are projected to save more than $25 billion in 2014.

    We have examined the report GAO released today, and highlighted some of our efforts here.

    GAO’s findings recognize the progress the Administration is making:

    • GAO found that the Executive Branch and Congress, together, have made progress on 104 of the broad areas out of the 131 GAO has identified over the past two years.
    • In terms of the specific recommended actions within these broad areas, the Executive Branch has made progress on over 75% percent of the recommendations, with more than 20% fully addressed and at least another 55% percent partially addressed.  The Executive Branch has fully addressed more than 50 actions and partially addressed more than 140 actions since 2011.
    • The GAO report also recognizes that there are many areas where additional action by Congress is needed.   GAO found that Congress has fully addressed about 20% of the recommendations for Congressional action since early 2011, and made progress on another 11%. 

    By identifying specific actions which may help reduce duplication, achieve cost savings, or improve coordination across programs, GAO is helping to further these efforts to make government more effective and efficient. Many of the GAO recommendations deal with some of the most complex and challenging areas across the Federal government.  Fully addressing them is a long-term process that in many cases will take many years to implement– a fact that GAO recognizes.  Progress in other areas requires Congressional action.

    Building on proposals in previous budgets, many of which were adopted by Congress, the President’s 2014 budget offers several proposals to address some of the areas of duplication and overlap.  For example, the budget will include proposals to:

    • Streamline Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs through a bold reorganization of STEM education programs into four key areas:  K-12 instruction; undergraduate education; graduate fellowships; and informal education activities that typically take place outside the classroom.  Currently, there are more than 220 STEM education programs spread across 13 agencies. The proposed reorganization would consolidate or restructure more than half of these programs and streamline functions across the agencies to improve the delivery and impact of STEM education.
    • Modernize, Streamline, and Strengthen the Delivery of Training and Employment Services.  Today more than 40 Federal programs deliver job training and employment services. The Administration is exploring opportunities to make these programs even more effective, including by reorganizing some of the existing training programs to make it easier for Americans to find a job or build their skills for a better one, and for employers to find well-qualified workers.  For example, the 2014 Budget proposes a universal displaced worker program that will reach more than a million workers a year with a set of core services, combining the best elements of two more narrowly-targeted programs.

    We encourage Congress to take quick action on these and other proposals included in the Budget. 

    As the President has said, to support an economy that is built to last, we need a government that’s built for the 21st Century. We have made real progress toward that end and we look forward to working with Congress to enact the reforms proposed by the President to make our government work more effectively and efficiently for the American people.

    Danny Werfel is Controller of the Office of Federal Financial Management

  • PortfolioStat 2.0: Driving Better Management and Efficiency in Federal IT

    The President, in his 2013 inaugural address, charged us to, “harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, reach higher.” To achieve this goal in the current fiscal environment, the Administration has been focused on innovating with less and strategically investing in information technology (IT).

    In March 2012, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) initiated PortfolioStat. Agencies across the Federal government undertook a data-driven effort to examine their IT portfolios to identify common areas of spending with the goal of decreasing duplication and driving down costs. Through this process, agencies identified more than $2.5 billion in spending reductions that could be achieved from FY 2013 through FY 2015.

    Today, Acting Director Jeff Zients and I signed a memo commencing this year’s PortfolioStat process and outlining improvements from last year. PortfolioStat will be an ongoing effort, growing each year to incorporate lessons learned and changes in technology. The upgraded process streamlines agency data collection and improves analytics, consolidates the agency’s strategic IT direction and management improvements into one central plan, and holds agencies accountable for the goals set through last year’s process.

    A key lesson learned is that agencies should evolve their IT portfolios to deliver IT “as a service.” Unlike traditional capital models where assets are purchased for individual projects, the service delivery model entails agencies deploying their IT like a business, optimizing it for consumption agency-wide. For example, with cloud computing solutions, agencies have a scalable and transparent way to provision IT services, giving agencies a viable enterprise alternative to often stove-piped, capital IT investments.

    The results from PortfolioStat are already significant; by the end this month, we expect agencies to report savings of approximately $300 million. We are committed to continuing PortfolioStat to drive further management improvements, save billions of dollars across the Federal Government, and improve services to Americans through the use of technology.

    Steven VanRoekel is the U.S. Chief Information Officer

  • Freezing the Footprint

    The Administration has made it a priority for Federal agencies to dispose of unneeded properties and make more efficient use of the Government’s real estate assets. As the next step in this effort, today, OMB is issuing guidance to direct agencies to implement a “Freeze the Footprint” policy for Federal real estate.

    Under today’s new guidance, all CFO-act agencies are required to develop plans that will serve as the basis for agency actions to restrict the growth in their office and warehouse inventories. Agencies will also be required to develop internal controls related to square footage growth and facilitate increased communication between agency Chief Financial Officer and Real Property Management offices. These changes will further improve the management of the Federal Government’s real property assets.

    This effort builds upon on the Administration’s ongoing work to sell unneeded Federal properties. For example, in October 2012, GSA sold the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant in Dallas for $357,500 and the Government was able to realize over $27 million in savings by requiring the new owner to complete the necessary environmental remediation. And in November 2012, GSA sold a 1.39 acre Norfolk, VA, multi-building property, that had been declared excess by the Department of Defense (DOD), to the City of Norfolk for $1.1 million to become administrative and training offices for the Norfolk Sheriff's Department. More information on these and other Federal properties that have been sold can be viewed on the White House Excess Assets page.

    Today’s guidance also expands on the President’s 2010 directive to agencies to identify cost savings through better real estate management. In the directive, the President set an ambitious goal of eliminating $8 billion in real estate costs by 2012: $5 billion in savings through DOD’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) process and $3 billion in non-BRAC savings. By the end of FY 2012 Federal agencies identified over $3.5 billion in non-BRAC real estate savings through disposals, space management, and sustainable energy and innovative real property management practices. In addition, DOD identified $5.1 billion in real-estate savings related to BRAC. An update on agency efforts to achieve the President’s $8 billion goal is available on Performance.gov.

    Agencies have made tremendous progress in making their real estate inventories more efficient, however, we know there is still more work to be done. As we develop new initiatives to spur progress in managing Federal real estate, we will be incorporating “lessons learned” from the implementation of the President’s goals to date. We look forward to further reducing the size and cost of the Government’s real estate inventory in the years ahead.

    Danny Werfel is Controller of the Office of Management and Budget

  • Working to Deliver Improved Performance

    This week, the Administration provided the first-ever quarterly progress update on the government’s 14 Cross-Agency Priority Goals and 103 Agency Priority Goals. These goals are set in areas where the Administration aims to achieve accelerated performance improvement through focused senior leadership attention. Agency leaders have each set ambitious near-term, implementation-focused Priority Goals, and the Administration has chosen Cross-Agency Priority Goals focused on topics requiring the collaboration of multiple agencies. Each quarterly progress update will be posted on Performance.gov, providing a window into the Administration’s efforts to make the government work smarter, better, and more efficiently. 

    For example, the Department of the Interior is working to authorize more production of clean energy on public lands. The agency set a goal that by September 30, 2013, it will increase the approved capacity for renewable energy (solar, wind, and geothermal) on or affecting public lands by at least 11,000 Megawatts relative to 2009 levels. By the end of 2012, it was fast approaching its goal, having approved 10,933 Megawatts, enough to power millions of homes.

  • Launch of the Administration’s Strategy to Mitigate the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets

    Today, I am pleased to announce the Administration’s Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets. Trade secret theft can cripple a company’s competitive advantage in foreign markets, diminish export prospects around the globe, and put American jobs in jeopardy. The President is committed to preventing the theft of corporate trade secrets. As he clearly expressed in his State of the Union Speech, “we cannot look back years from now and wonder why we did nothing in the face of real threats to our security and our economy.”

    The Strategy that we are releasing today coordinates and improves U.S. Government efforts to protect the innovation that drives the American economy and supports jobs in the United States. As the Strategy lays out, we are taking a whole of government approach to stop the theft of trade secrets by foreign competitors or foreign governments by any means – cyber or otherwise.

    • First, we will increase our diplomatic engagement. Specifically, we will convey our concerns to countries where there are high incidents of trade secret theft with coordinated and sustained messages from the most senior levels of the Administration. We will build coalitions with countries that share our concerns to support our efforts. We will urge foreign law enforcement to do more. And we will use our trade policy tools to press other governments for better protection and enforcement.
    • Second, we will support industry-led efforts to develop best practices to protect trade secrets and encourage companies to share with each other best practices that can mitigate the risk of trade secret theft.
    • Third, DOJ will continue to make the investigation and prosecution of trade secret theft by foreign competitors and foreign governments a top priority. Additionally, the FBI and the intelligence community will provide warnings and threat assessments to the private sector on information and technology that are being targeted for theft by foreign competitors and foreign governments.
    • Fourth, President Obama recently signed two pieces of legislation that will improve enforcement against trade secret theft. But we need to continue to make sure our laws are as effective as possible. So, moving forward, we will conduct a review of our laws to determine if further changes are needed to enhance enforcement. If changes are necessary, we will work with Congress to make those changes lasting and comprehensive.
    • Lastly, we will increase public awareness of the threats and risks to the U.S. economy posed by trade secret theft.

    We know that trade secrets play a crucial role in America’s global competitiveness. As the Strategy makes clear, the Administration will continue to act vigorously to combat the theft of American trade secrets that could be used by foreign companies or foreign governments to gain an unfair commercial advantage over U.S. companies. In order to continue to lead, succeed, and prosper in the 21st Century global economy, we will use this Strategy to put in place an effective and coordinated approach to protect American trade secrets.

    The launch event described below will being streaming on WhiteHouse.gov/live at 3:15pm today.