In just three weeks, federal employees submitted more than 38,000 ideas identifying opportunities to save money and improve performance. After these were winnowed to a final four, the top idea was voted on by tens of thousands of Americans, and the winner – Nancy Fichtner from Loma, Colorado – came to the White House to present her proposal to save money in how the VA uses prescription medication. As we head into the FY 2012 budget season, the President today kicked off the second annual SAVE Award, asking workers on the frontlines to take a hard look again and to share their ideas and insight at

In a change from last year, we also are asking federal employees to help rate the submissions from their fellow workers. This new feature will allow employees to apply their insight to the evaluation process, making sure the best ideas make it into the FY 2012 Budget.

In line with the spirit of the contest, the reason SAVE is back for a second year is that it works. I’ve written previously about some of the great ideas that came out of the first year’s SAVE contest. In March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made a shift from paper to electronic payroll statements, helping save on printing, shipping, and distribution costs that add up quickly. More recently – thanks to the SAVE Award – the Air Force changed its cellphone arrangement, saving taxpayer dollars by tailoring plans to actual usage patterns.

These ideas represent small, but powerful, examples of how federal employees can use their experience and knowledge to streamline what works and help identify what doesn’t. If you’re a federal employee reading this blog post, go to now and send in your idea now.  You’ll be helping to modernize our government, and just may end up in the White House briefing the President about your idea.

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