• CBPP: Savings Will Stick

    One of the criticisms leveled by skeptics of health insurance reform is that the hundreds of billions of dollars in Medicare savings being proposed won’t actually be implemented since efforts to cut waste never stick. "Congress is notorious for passing Medicare savings, and then after the cuts take place and the political groups get activated, we restore all the money," one Republican congressman told the Wall Street Journal last month.

  • An Insightful Article on Health Care Costs

    For those skeptical about the ability to restrain health care cost growth in heath reform, read Ron Brownstein’s latest article on how the bills now being considered in Congress would transform the health care system so that it delivers better care to more Americans at far less cost.

  • The Team Is Set

    This weekend, the Senate completed the OMB team when it confirmed Dan Gordon to lead the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP). Dan brings more than two decades of professional contracting experience to OMB, having most recently served as Acting General Counsel at GAO. He understands the President’s goal of improving the contracting system in order to provide the best value for taxpayers. Dan will be at the center of this effort to deliver better value to the American people at a lower cost to the government’s bottom line.

  • A Washington Post Post

    In today’s Washington Post, I have an op-ed discussing an issue critical to the country’s fiscal future: health-care reform that provides the highest quality of care and helps stem rising health-care costs. In the piece, I lay out the four key pillars of fiscally-responsible health reform as identified by a group of the nation’s leading economists: deficit neutrality, a tax on high-cost plans, a Medicare commission, and delivery system reform. As the debate moves to the Senate and we move closer to a final bill, I argue that the greatest risk we run is not completing health reform and letting this opportunity to lay a new foundation for our economy and our country pass us by.

  • Reducing Improper Payments

    Each year, taxpayers lose billions of dollars in wasteful improper payments by the federal government to individuals, organizations, and contractors. "Improper payments" 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. In 2008, improper payments totaled $72 billion; in 2009, they totaled $98 billion — an increase driven by improved detection and the significant increase in federal outlays associated with the economic downturn. These errors and mistakes are unacceptable. Taxpayers deserve to know that their dollars are being spent wisely and effectively.

  • Fiscally Responsible Health Reform Redux

    Every two weeks or so, there seems to be a story ringing the alarm bells over the fiscal dimension of health reform. As I've said time and again, the President is committed to signing a health reform bill that is deficit neutral in the first decade — and deficit reducing thereafter. The legislation under consideration in the Senate and the bill passed Saturday by the House both meet these tests.

  • Step Right Up

    Last Friday marked the end of the first month of the OMB pedometer challenge. As a team, we took a whopping 51,337,900 in the first month. This is equivalent to walking almost 26,000 miles — over a thousand miles more than walking the full circumference of the earth. Quite an accomplishment.

  • Rescue, Recovery, and Reining in Deficits

    I delivered a speech today at New York University about the Administration’s efforts to jumpstart the economy and to build a secure and prosperous recovery by putting the nation on a path to fiscal sustainability — issues that are especially important to the students of today and generations to come.

  • Improving our Performance

    Today on Capitol Hill, OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeff Zients testified in front of the Senate Budget Committee about the Administration’s efforts to improve the performance of the federal government so that it is more efficient and effective.

  • Missing the Boat on Cost Containment

    As I have said repeatedly — and as my colleague, Christy Romer, is discussing today at the Center for American Progress — reducing health care cost growth is the key to our fiscal future. To anyone who has studied our fiscal facts, this central conclusion seems indisputable.

  • Birth date, business cycles, and lifetime income

    We often hear about people who are unlucky in love, but what of those who are unlucky in the business cycle? What is the impact of being born two decades before a significant economic downturn, such that you graduate from college and enter the labor force in the middle of a period of high unemployment? As the class of 2009 is keenly aware, entering the labor market during a recession has immediate negative effects. Job offers are harder to find: according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, less than 20 percent of the class of 2009 graduated from college with a job offer in hand, compared to 25 percent in the class of 2008 and more than 50 percent in the class of 2007. Whereas year to year starting salaries on average tend to increase, with the tough competition in this year’s labor market, average starting offers for the class of 2009 are slightly down.

  • Better than the Heisman

    Tonight, the Senate confirmed Danny Werfel as Controller, Office of Federal Financial Management (OFFM). This is great news for OMB, as Danny brings broad experience and financial acumen to the table. His skills will be tested, as there are serious challenges facing the federal government to improve transparency and drive better results for the American people.

  • Bending the Curve in More Ways Than One

    Over the past few days, a number of news articles about health reform have suggested that efforts to control the growth of health care costs are in jeopardy. Great strides to control long-term health care costs have been made in both the Senate and the House — fulfilling a key goal of the President’s health reform effort.

  • Score One for Senate Finance

    This afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its estimate of the budgetary and coverage effects of the Senate Finance Committee health reform legislation. The bottom line is that this mark demonstrates that we can expand coverage and improve quality while being fiscally responsible. It does not add one dime to the deficit over the next 10 years and, according to CBO, reduces deficits significantly thereafter.

  • Valuing Evaluation

    Especially in these difficult economic times, it’s critical that taxpayer dollars are used wisely. We can’t just keep continuing with business as usual in Washington where programs get funded because they always have – even if they may be ineffective, duplicative, or outdated. That is why the President has made changing how the federal government does business and how taxpayer dollars are spent a top priority. And, as I have written about before, it’s why we are putting an emphasis on objective, rigorous evaluations to help drive funding decisions across the government.

  • Remove Barriers to College

    This weekend I read a fascinating new paper about the impact of providing a simplified approach to financial aid for prospective college students.

  • A View from the Institute of Medicine

    The need for health insurance reform just became clearer with the release from the non-partisan Institute of Medicine (IOM) of an estimate that the health care system contains over $800 billion in excess costs, a number consistent with previous studies. In other words, according to this new estimate, we spend more than $800 billion a year on health care that does not make us healthier. The result is higher premiums for us all and higher costs for the government — but it also means you may receive tests and procedures that you do not need, putting your health at risk.

  • A Real Pro for Procurement

    Today, the President announced his intent to nominate Dan Gordon to serve as the Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy – a key member of the management team here at OMB. Dan is a career contracting professional who understands that the top goal of our procurement efforts is to use taxpayers’ dollars smartly and effectively – that we get the most value for every dollar we spend. Dan will bring a fresh approach to procurement policy, but he also will rely on the expertise of the career procurement workforce to improve our procurement processes.

  • Fiscal Fitness

    October 1st marks the beginning of a new fiscal year. At OMB, that coincides with an increased pace as we begin to put together the Fiscal Year 2011 Budget. This year, as part of their budget submissions, federal agencies have been asked to report on their efforts to improve the health and wellness of their employees. I want to make sure that the staff at OMB doesn’t just talk the talk on wellness, but that we also walk the walk — literally.

  • Going the Distance – 10K ideas

    Last week, OMB launched the President’s Save Award, a contest for federal employees to come up with the best idea to save taxpayer dollars and make the government perform more effectively and efficiently. Today, we received the 10,000th submission and we now have 10,266 entries (to be exact!).