OMBlog

  • Uncle Sam Switches Plans

    The effort to cut waste and modernize government is truly an Administration-wide one. Not only are a wide array of agencies getting into the act — from IT projects killed at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the reform of the crop insurance program at the Department of Agriculture, but also federal workers.

  • The Check is Not in the Mail

    Last week, I spoke about the President’s commitment to create a government that is efficient, effective, transparent, and responsive. Since then, the Administration has unveiled some of the steps we are taking toward this goal: from identifying the bottom 5 percent of government programs to disposing of excess buildings and real estate and the Agriculture Department’s re-negotiating of its contract with crop insurance companies (which will reduce deficits by $4 billion over ten years).

  • Eliminating Waste by Getting Rid of Unneeded Federal Real Estate

    The Federal Government is the largest property owner and energy user in the country, with an inventory that includes 1.2 million buildings, structures, and land parcels. This includes 14,000 building and structures currently designated as excess and 55,000 identified as under- and not-utilized. Currently, Federal agencies operate and maintain more real property assets than necessary, unnecessarily raising costs to the taxpayer.

  • More Computing Power on Your Belt Than at Your Desk?

    In a blog posting, Tom Shoop raised a question about a sentence in my speech yesterday that, "at one time, a federal worker went to the office and had access to cutting-edge computer power and programs. Now, he often has more of both clipped to a device on his belt." Tom noted that as impressive as it is, he wasn’t sure that his Android-based Smartphone has anywhere near the computing power of even an eight- or ten-year-old PC.

  • Closing the IT Gap

    When many of my colleagues went from the cutting-edge, social media-focused Obama presidential campaign into the federal government, they remarked that it was like going from an X-box to an Atari.

  • The Affordable Care Act and the Deficit

    CBO Director Doug Elmendorf recently gave a presentation on health costs and the fiscal outlook. Doug concludes that the federal budget remains on an unsustainable course even after enactment of the Affordable Care Act, and I wholly agree with him.

  • Congratulations, Graduates

    I just left Troy, New York where I delivered the commencement address at the Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute’s (RPI). It’s an amazing university – the nation’s oldest technological university – and it’s headed by the incomparable Shirley Jackson: a physicist, member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as well as a leading voice on science policy.

  • Reducing Unnecessary Spending

    Today, the President sent to Congress the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010 to establish a new, expedited tool to reduce unnecessary or wasteful spending. Under this new expedited procedure, the President would submit a package of rescissions shortly after a spending bill is passed. Congress is then required to consider these recommendations as a package, without amendment, and with a guaranteed up-or-down vote within a specified timeframe.

  • Toward Our Clean Energy Future

    From the consumer who sees the costs of filling her gas tank or heating her home go up to the scientists tracking how climate change is affecting our planet, we all know that maintaining our reliance on oil and other fossil fuels to power our economy entails significant costs and risks. One of the pillars of the new foundation for long-term economic growth is therefore positioning the United States to be a world leader in clean energy technologies.

  • A New Round of Old Questions on Health Insurance Reform

    A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) letter released yesterday has sparked a new round of old questions about the cost of the recently enacted health insurance reform law, the Affordable Care Act. The letter simply updates CBO’s calculation of the size of discretionary authorizations included in the legislation.

  • America’s Got Talent (And We Need to Hire It)

    As I have written here before, in order to build a new foundation for economic growth, we need to change how Washington does business. We need to cut what doesn’t work and streamline what does so that we can create an effective and efficient federal government that is responsive to the needs of the American people.

  • Congress Presses Forward on Improper Payments

    Today, the House passed the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA), legislation that will help rein in improper payments and save taxpayer dollars. As I’ve written about before, "improper payment" is an umbrella term that covers a number of financial transactions — overpayments to individuals or firms is one example; benefit payments to ineligible program participants is another. That is to say, an improper payment occurs when the federal government pays the wrong amount, the wrong person, or at the wrong time. In 2009, taxpayers lost $98 billion in wasteful improper payments by the federal government to individuals, organizations, and contractors — with $54 billion of that amount stemming from Medicare and Medicaid. These errors and mistakes are unacceptable — and the passage of the IPERA bill is an important step forward in curbing these wasteful payments.

  • Laying the Path to Fiscal Responsibility

    The President formed the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform because he believes that the path to fiscal stability begins with bi-partisan cooperation. Today, the Commission met with the President and held its first meeting, where I joined them to discuss the Nation’s unsustainable fiscal trajectory and the importance of the task before them.

  • Doing Business with Small Business

    Today, the President signed a memorandum outlining steps that will expand opportunities for small businesses to conduct business with the federal government. Small businesses are an important engine of job growth throughout the economy. That is why to boost economic growth and foster job creation, the Administration has undertaken already a number of initiatives – including through the Recovery Act – to boost small business lending and hiring.

  • Getting the Best Ideas from Outside Washington

    As the President has said time and again, the best ideas often come from outside Washington. A vivid example involves new technology and management techniques to make large organizations run more effectively and efficiently.

  • Numbers Count

    My blog post this morning prompted some questions from people who are comparing the Administration’s 2010 earmarks count with data released last month by the group Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS). TCS does good work and is a respected outside voice. In this earmarks’ count, however, its analysis is a bit off.

  • Changing the Trend on Earmarks

    For too many years, the practice of congressional earmarking continued virtually unabated. During the 10-year period that ended in 2005, according to the Congressional Research Service, the number of earmarks skyrocketed, increasing by more than 400 percent and reaching a level of more than 16,000. This increase was particularly troubling because all too often, earmarks are an easy vehicle for special interest deal-making – inserted into congressional spending bills without filter for merit, need, priority, or any scrutiny by the public, the media, or other members of Congress.

  • OMB and Open Government

    When the President came into office, he underscored his commitment to changing the old ways of Washington by directing federal agencies to open government to the American people. In our first year in office, we have taken transformative steps that will permanently break down the barriers between the government and the citizens it serves.

  • Following Doctor’s Orders

    Since the President signed the health insurance reform bill into law last week and the reconciliation package into law this week, some critics have been carping that the bill does not do enough to constrain health care costs — or as OMBlog readers know it, "bend the curve."

  • SAVEings

    Today, DHS announced that it is changing the default setting for its payroll statements from paper to electronic. This means employees will receive their regular payroll data electronically instead of getting stacks of paper earnings statements by mail. By making e-statements the default option, while giving employees the option to opt out in favor of the paper statement, we hope to increase the percentage of federal employees who use this approach while saving the taxpayers’ money.