• Advise the Advisor: Streamlining, Improving, and Simplifying Rules and Regulations

    Watch Cass Sunstein in Advise the Advisor here.

    How can we continue to streamline, simplify, and improve rules and regulations? Which rules should be eliminated, streamlined, or made more effective? How can we reduce reporting and paperwork burdens? What are the best ways to cut regulatory costs? We’re looking for your ideas.

    In January 2011, the President directed all executive agencies to undertake an unprecedented government-wide review of regulations on the books, in order to figure out what is working and what is not, and where appropriate, to streamline or eliminate ineffective, overly burdensome, and outdated rules. Over two dozen agencies responded with regulatory reform plans, listing more than 800 initiatives.

    We are already seeing big results. Just a small fraction of those initiatives, already finalized or formally proposed to the public, will save more than $10 billion over the next five years. Far more savings are expected as the plans are implemented and improved.

    This May, the President made regulatory reform a continuing responsibility of all executive agencies and departments. All agencies must engage with the public to obtain suggestions about which regulations should be reassessed, modified, improved, streamlined, or eliminated. All agencies must give priority to reforms that would produce significant quantifiable savings or big reductions in paperwork and reporting burdens. And all agencies must report regularly to the public on their progress.

    The next reports are due fairly soon – this fall. To improve our review, and to make it as ambitious as possible, we are announcing, today, an opportunity for members of the public to offer their ideas. Which rules are outdated? Which ones are imposing unjustified costs? Which ones can be improved or made more effective? Submit your ideas at They will be given careful consideration.

    Cass Sunstein is Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. 


  • Communications Update

    After three and a half years as a valued advisor and strategist and four budgets, OMB’s Associate Director for Communications and Strategic Planning and senior advisor Ken Baer departed last week.  Ken leaves a legacy that includes bringing OMB communications into the 21stcentury with the OMBlog and OMB’s twitter presence as he heads to the private sector by way of a long and well deserved family vacation.

    I am pleased to announce that Steven Posner is carrying on the torch and joining OMB this week as the Associate Director for Strategic Planning and Communications.  Steve brings a wealth of experience in both the legislative and executive branches to his role at OMB.  For the past eleven years, he has served as Communications Director and Deputy Communications Director for the Senate Budget Committee Democratic staff.  In that capacity, he helped develop and implement the communications strategy for the Committee and served as lead writer, drafting budget materials, speeches, and chart presentations for Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND).  Prior to his role on the Budget Committee, Steve worked in the Clinton Administration’s Treasury Department as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, where he was the Department’s spokesman for economic and tax policy issues.  He previously worked as an Account Executive and Research Analyst at the public affairs firm Powell Tate.  Steve holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University, JFK School of Government and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Colgate University.

    He will join spokeswoman and Deputy Associate Director Moira Mack who has taken an expanded leadership role in the Communications office, handling a wide range of Communication issues on both the Management and Budget side and has ensured that OMB’s press office has continued to operate to the highest standard. Moira will continue this expanded role under Steve's leadership.

    With Steven and Moira at the helm, I am confident OMB communications will continue to serve the Administration and the public well, building on the progress of the last three and a half years as we continue to move forward the President’s agenda. 

  • The 2012 SAVE Award


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

    Over the past three years, Federal employees from every corner of the country have submitted more than 75,000 cost-cutting ideas through the SAVE Award. From shifting expensive magazines from print to online, to creating a tool “lending library” to cut down on duplicative purchases for flight projects – Federal workers have stepped up and thought creatively about how their agencies can do more with less.

    Already, we’ve begun to see how those ideas can make a difference. The President’s last three budgets included approximately 60 SAVE Award ideas that are helping to save millions of taxpayer dollars while delivering the American people efficient and effective government they deserve. That’s what the SAVE Award is all about -- enlisting the creativity and expertise of federal employees on the front lines to find ways to cut waste and make government work better. So if you’re a Federal employee with an idea about how to improve the way your agency does business, take a minute to submit your idea here. Submitting an idea is quick and easy, and the winner will get to present his or her idea directly to the President here at the White House. 

    We know that these ideas alone aren’t going to close the deficit of fix our fiscal situation overnight, but they are critical to making sure that the American people can have confidence that their government is a careful steward of their tax dollars.

    So if you’re a Federal employee, send us your idea. And everyone else: stay tuned. In the next few months, we’ll be looking to you to help pick this year’s winner!

  • New Progress, New Leadership at GATB

    The effort to create lasting, sustainable transparency and accountability across government is a long-term one, and one that the President and the Vice President are committed to seeing through. That’s why last June, the President created the Government Accountability and Transparency Board (GATB).Using the lessons learned from implementing the Recovery Act, the GATB was charged with recommending ways to improve the tracking and display of Federal spending data and broaden the use of cutting-edge fraud detection technologies. 

    Since then, the GATB has been working closely with the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (Recovery Board), which established a new benchmark for how we should collect, display and oversee Federal spending data under the Recovery Act through and its innovative Recovery Operations Center. Together with the Recovery Board, Federal agencies, OMB and others, the GATB is a critical driver of continued progress in our forthcoming efforts to make Federal spending data more complete, more transparent, and more reliable.

    Last December, the GATB submitted to the President its initial report, containing key recommendations for concrete steps the government should take to enhance transparency and accountability. Today, the GATB provided the President with an update on its progress on the three steps they recommended taking.

    1. Leveraging cutting-edge technology to improve government-wide accountability.The GATB recommended expanding the use of cutting-edge tools that can help detect and prevent waste, fraud and abuse, and creating a centralized platform for ensuring accountability in spending across the government. To advance this cause, the Recovery Board has partnered with the GATB to initiate pilots with both agencies and Inspectors General on how best to deploy new forensic and analytical capabilities government-wide. In addition, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) launched the President’s Do Not Pay tool to help Federal agencies prevent the types of improper payments that have plagued government for too long – including pension payments to the deceased and payments to fraudulent contractors. In April 2012, OMB issued a memorandum directing agencies to use this tool. By next spring, we expect every major Federal agency will be leveraging the Do Not Pay solution to combat improper payments.  Collectively, these solutions are moving us closer to the GATB’s vision of a common platform for government-wide spending accountability, and the GATB will continue to drive us towards greater centralization over time.
    2. Streamline and integrate how we collect and display data.The GATB recommended working to create a single electronic collection system for grant related data to eliminate system redundancies, and reduce recipients’ burden of reporting to multiple agencies. To advance this idea, the Recovery Board is both exploring the use of as a template for displaying they type of spending data currently displayed on www.USAspending.govand also launching a pilot with selected grant recipients to see whether can be used as a centralized collection point for grant data. Further, the GATB is evaluating how existing system consolidation efforts, like the General Services Administration’s (GSA) System for Award Management, to integrate collection of spending data and create a single, cohesive source for these data across the Federal government. In addition, Federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services are hard at work in developing new methods for standardizing Federal grant and contract data.
    3. Migrate to a universal ID system for all Federal awards.The GATB identified steps needed to move the government toward a universal award ID system to ensure uniformity and consistency of data and enhance transparency of government spending. This effort is critical to make sure that we aren’t just providing the public with more data, but rather data that is more reliable, easier to use, and more meaningful in tracking how Federal dollars are spent.  Accordingly, efforts are underway to assess the feasibility of implementing a universal award ID, as well as determining the “intelligent” components that would underpin it. In doing so, the GATB is engaging with other agencies, in particular Treasury, to assess the costs and benefits of a universal award ID, and determining how to move forward as expeditiously as possible.

    These first steps cannot – and won’t – be the last. Already, OMB is also developing a new Statement of Spending that will make transparent information about where and how Federal agencies spend tax dollars part of agencies’ annual audited financial statements. We will be piloting this new statement with a number of agencies in their financial reports that will be submitted in November of this year. 

    We will continue to work in close concert with Congress, Federal agencies, inspectors general, recipients of Federal funds, and other stakeholders to root out waste and drive efficiencies in Federal spending.  To help lead this effort, the President has announced his intent to name Richard (Dick) T. Ginman, Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy at the Department of Defense, to serve as the new Chairman of the GATB. Mr. Ginman has more than 37 years of experience in the areas of contracting and financial management, and has served as a vocal leader on the GATB in driving progress in Federal spending transparency and accountability. Under Mr. Ginman’s leadership, I am confident that the GATB will continue to serve as an indispensable voice in pushing the Federal government to function more efficiently, effectively, accountably for the American people. 

    And ultimately, creating this kind of government – one that is more transparent and accountable to the American people than ever before – is something that the President has been committed to since day one. 

  • Building Momentum

    As of this week, more than 100 public and private sector partners have come together through President Obama’s Better Buildings Challenge which supports job creation by catalyzing private sector investment in commercial and industrial building energy. Just yesterday, 36 new States, local governments, and school districts joined the growing list of partnerships that are proving how modernizing our country’s buildings to become more energy efficient creates jobs, cuts energy costs, and reduces pollution. Combined, these commitments bring the total square footage of buildings enrolled in this public-private partnership to 2 billion, the equivalent of more than 34,000 football fields.

    This announcement also adds $300 million in new estimated investments in building energy upgrades to the nearly $4 billion in public and private sector financial commitments that were announced in December 2011.

    Last year, commercial buildings consumed roughly 20 percent of all the energy used by the U.S. economy. With the help of former President Clinton and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, President Obama’s Better Building’s Challenge will help make America’s buildings 20 percent more efficient over the next decade, while reducing energy costs for American businesses by nearly $40 billion.

    The Federal government is also committed to creating jobs and cutting costs by investing in energy efficiency in Federal buildings. Since President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum last December directing Federal agencies to invest at least $2 billion in two years in building energy efficiency, agencies have identified $2.1 billion in such projects – all paid for with savings through energy savings performance contracts with no up-front cost to taxpayers.

  • Paper Cuts

    President Obama has made it a priority to reduce paperwork and reporting burdens on the American public. Recent reforms are eliminating tens of millions of burden-hours imposed on both businesses and individuals.

    Many of these reforms have been spurred by Executive Order 13563, which calls for a government-wide “lookback” at existing regulatory requirements. Building on that Executive Order, President Obama recently issued Executive Order 13610, which specifically directs agencies to prioritize “initiatives that will produce significant quantifiable monetary savings or significant quantifiable reductions in paperwork burdens.” Executive Order 13610 also requires agencies to focus on “cumulative burdens” and to “give priority to reforms that would make significant progress in reducing those burdens.”

    Today, in response to Executive Order 13610, we are taking action to promote additional burden reductions. A new guidance document directs agencies to take meaningful steps to decrease paperwork and reporting burdens on the American people, including small businesses. These steps include:

  • Hitting the Ground Running With the Digital Strategy

    Last month, the Obama Administration launched the Digital Government Strategy (PDF/ HTML5), a comprehensive roadmap aimed at building a 21st Century Digital Government that delivers better digital services to the American people. We’ve hit the ground running and are already hard at work driving the strategy forward.

    First, we’ve established the Digital Services Innovation Center to operationalize the principle of “build once, use many times” by serving as a virtual hub, supported by agencies across government, to incubate and accelerate innovative digital services. The Innovation Center has been gearing up with a small core team from within the General Services Administration, and will draw on a pool of experts and creative thinkers from across government using temporary staffing arrangements, multi-agency teams, and others with specialized expertise and skills to address rapid turnaround needs. Work is underway on initial tasks, including identifying and providing performance and customer satisfaction measurement tools to improve service delivery and more. This team will also be central in working with the forthcoming “MyGov” Presidential Innovation Fellows project.

    Second, on June 13, I convened a set of leaders from across government – including representatives from the Federal CIO Council (CIOC), Federal Web Managers Council (FWMC), and several agencies – for the first meeting of the Digital Services Advisory Group. The Advisory Group will help steer implementation of the Digital Government Strategy, prioritize Innovation Center activities, and recommend government-wide best practices, guidance, and standards. The Advisory Group has already begun to work with the CIOC and FWMC on two early deliverables: guidance and best practices on allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices for work (known as “bring-your-own-device”), as well as agency-wide governance models for digital services. 

    We’ve also tapped the deep reserve of citizen-innovators who want to help build a better government using the power of technology. There has been a groundswell of interest in the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, with 700 applicants for Fellows positions, and over 4,000 people in total expressing interest in following (and contributing to) their progress. These fellows will help the government take on critical challenges such as giving individuals access to their personal health records and “liberating” government data to fuel entrepreneurship. The numbers of applications are very encouraging, and US Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Todd Park and I are thrilled to see this type of enthusiasm for the program and the mission it represents.

    As we continue our work implementing the strategy, you can track our progress at Stay tuned – we’re just getting started.

    Steven VanRoekel is the Federal Chief Information Officer – for more information visit    

  • Greater Accountability and Faster Delivery Through Modular Contracting

    Last week, we highlighted a number of ways in which reform of Federal Information Technology Management is giving taxpayers more for their IT investments and improving the overall function and efficiency of government. Today, we mark yet another milestone in our march to improved fiscal and contractor accountability as we roll out Contracting Guidance to Support Modular IT Development

    For too long, Federal IT was marked by runaway information technology (IT) projects in Federal agencies that wasted billions of dollars and were years behind schedule. By the time some of these projects launched, if they launched at all, they were often over budget, late and/or obsolete.  In many cases, these failures can be traced back to lengthy acquisition and IT development efforts that aimed to deliver massive new systems over years, rather than providing new functionality in an incremental manner – as the private sector does.

  • Investing in What Works to Help Americans Get Back to Work

    The Obama Administration has consistently emphasized the need to evaluate programs and use evidence of what works to drive federal investment. It’s how we make sure that taxpayers are getting the most for their dollars. Today, we can see another example of what this means in practice with the announcement by Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis that approximately $150 million is being awarded to 26 states and local communities from the new Workforce Innovation Fund. This new Fund, proposed by the President and first funded by Congress last spring, will help spur the development of more effective ways to connect Americans with the training, education, and other services they need to succeed in the workforce.

    Thousands of Americans will benefit from these 26 grants, which are being made across the country, from Gainesville, Florida to Tacoma, Washington. A consortium of 10 cities and counties led by Baltimore County, Maryland will be developing accelerated programs for low-skilled workers that integrate basic education (including English language instruction) with specific training for health care jobs. In the state of Ohio, a Workforce Innovation Fund grant will be used to tie together the patchwork of existing programs into a streamlined, Internet-based system that workers can easily access. And in California, three counties are banding together to provide more effective services to disconnected youth, and connect them with the educational and employment opportunities they need to succeed in life. These initiatives will be evaluated carefully, to determine if the strategies they are using are indeed effective. Proven strategies will then be shared with other communities so they can be replicated and lead to better outcomes and use of public resources, including federal funds provided through the Workforce Investment Act.

    The Department of Labor also announced today that $20 million will be available in the coming months for cutting-edge “Pay for Success” strategies. Under this model, private-sector entities invest in programs with a strong evidence base, and agree in advance with their partner in government on the desired results, such as getting and keeping good jobs. If they deliver the results, the private sector is paid for that success. But if not, the private investors bear the cost of that failure, and taxpayers aren’t stuck with the bill. With this kind of “skin in the game,” the private sector has a powerful incentive to help make sure programs deliver results. And government is able to leverage private capital to invest in building the skills of American workers.

    A number of innovative cities and states already are exploring Pay for Success strategies. Congress is showing interest as well; the recently-released Senate Labor-HHS appropriations bill provides additional flexibility, requested in the President’s Budget, to support Pay for Success approaches to federal financing.

    It is initiatives like these that are developing evidence-based strategies to get Americans back to work with the skills they need to succeed that the Administration is supporting and investing in so that we have a government that works – and gets the job done efficiently and effectively.

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

  • Shocking the System through IT Reform

    Washington, DC has never suffered from a lack of ambitious plans and strategies to tackle tough challenges. The sticking point, often, is execution. This is why in December of 2010, when we launched the 25 Point Plan to Reform Federal Information Technology Management, we committed to a focus on execution to tackle obstacles that get in the way of lasting reform.

    From day one, this Administration has recognized how critical that type of reform is. By cutting waste in IT across the Federal portfolio, we’re not only saving taxpayer dollars, but also improving the overall function and efficiency of the government.

    Over the last 18 months, the Administration has made great strides clearing obstacles in the way of reform, allowing agencies to leverage information technology to create a more efficient and effective Government. While the 25 points have not solved all Federal IT challenges, they addressed many of the most pressing, persistent challenges we face.  Most importantly, this plan established many wins that will drive our efforts well into the future.

    For example, the 25 Point Plan addressed some of the basics around the Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative.  These include dedicating a senior program manager in charge of consolidation at each agency, establishing an interagency Task Force to drive consolidation and sharing of best practices, and launching a government-wide marketplace to promote the availability of data center space to other Federal offices.  We also recognized there is more we can do, so we expanded our data center consolidation efforts, increasing our goal by 50 percent from the original set in 2010.

    As of March, 267 data centers have been decommissioned across the Federal Government and by the end of 2012, we plan to have closed a total of 429. Additionally, on June 9, OMB and GSA will launch the data center marketplace inside government, which will help agencies better utilize spare capacity within operational data centers.

    Yesterday, we launched the Initial Operating Capability of the Federal Risk Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).  FedRAMP will enable agencies to have confidence that their data will remain safe and secure when they deploy a cloud solution – without requiring each agency to reinvent the wheel each time they choose to shift to the cloud.   

    Under the 25 Point Plan we jumpstarted the adoption of cloud computing, shifting agency mindsets in the process.  Beginning in FY 2013, we expect cloud migrations to save agencies about $100 million a year, at that is for email alone. And while these savings are notable, cloud computing also enables agencies to improve service and produce business efficiencies that save even more.

    On May 2, 2012, OMB published the Shared Services Strategy, which required agencies to identify IT services to migrate to a shared service model by the end of 2012. Agencies identified 60 initiatives, totaling $34 million in annual cost savings and avoidance. These are just the tip of the iceberg as it pertains to shared services.  Through the PortfolioStat process this summer, we will begin to see great results and incorporate these savings and reinvestments into the FY 2014 President’s budget.

    In May 2011, OPM and OMB launched the IT Program Manager career path. Over the last year, agencies have designated over 1,000 IT Program Managers with the experience and know-how to hold agency and contractor staff accountable for substantial taxpayer investments. These individuals now manage major IT investments that for decades were plagued by mismanagement and poor governance.

    Without question, TechStat has been one of the major successes of the IT Reform Plan. To date, agencies have held over 300 TechStats and trained over 1,500 employees in the process, exponentially growing the work that started two years ago. As we drive TechStat into the bureaus and components of agencies, we are seeing positive shifts in accountability and management.

    The 25 Point Plan has without question served its purpose as a shock to the system. Prior to the plan’s launch, agencies were sporadically migrating to cloud solutions, major IT investments were managed by individuals with varying degrees of expertise and experience,  the acquisition process did not keep pace with the technology cycle, TechStat reviews were held only by OMB, and CIO authority within agencies was too often lacking.

    Fast-forward 18 months and now cloud migration is no longer an aspiration but a reality across the government, all major investments are led by a dedicated program manager, contracting guidance to support modular IT development will better align acquisition and technology cycles, the Federal Government has achieved cost savings of over $4 billion as a result of the TechStat process, and a majority of CIOs have formal authority to review and approve the major IT investments in their agency portfolio.

    We will continue to eliminate duplication wherever we find it and shift spending from the costly maintenance of outdated systems to more efficient technologies.By doing so, we can improve the delivery of mission critical services, as we work together with Congress to hold agency IT budgets in check and reduce the costs to the American people.

    Steven VanRoekel is the Federal Chief Information Officer – for more information visit   

  • Delivering Value with Small Business Contracting

    Before coming to OMB this past winter, I served as Associate Administrator for Government Contracting and Business Development at the Small Business Administration, where my primary responsibility was to maximize opportunities for small businesses, including small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran owned small businesses and contractors in Historically Underutilized Business Zones. Both in my experiences at SBA and in the private sector, I was always impressed by the close connection between fostering greater small business participation in contracting and delivering better results and a better value for the American people. When you think about it, the connection is rather easy to explain: both require effective market research to find capable vendors and a well-trained acquisition workforce to negotiate contracts that offer the best value.

    It comes as no surprise that so many of the success stories connected with smarter contracting involve small businesses. As just one example, you may recall this past winter that the Department of Commerce announced a new contract with a small business contractor that will lower the Department’s costs for desktops and laptops by 40 percent and save taxpayers between $20-25 million over the next five years. The small business contractor is helping Commerce achieve these savings by eliminating hundreds of redundant contracts meeting the same requirements. This, in turn, will avoid thousands of employee hours that would otherwise be required to maintain hundreds of narrowly tailored contracts. That’s a win for our taxpayers and a win for small businesses. And it’s a win for the American people as those small businesses create jobs.

    One of my priorities as the newly confirmed OFPP Administrator is to continue these “win-wins” for our taxpayers and small businesses. Today, as my first official action as OFFP Administrator, I co-signed an important memorandum with SBA Administrator Mills directing agencies to take immediate actions to increase opportunities for small businesses in government contracting.

  • “Lookback” Progress

    Ed Note: This post is updated with a correction on HUD borrower savings as those figures have not yet been finalized.

    President Obama is committed to a regulatory approach that protects public safety and welfare while also promoting economic growth and job creation. In January 2011, the President issued a historic Executive Order, setting forth new cost-saving, burden-reducing requirements for federal regulations, and requiring an ambitious government-wide “lookback” at existing regulations. In response to that requirement, over two dozen agencies identified more than 500 reforms. Agencies have already proposed or finalized more than 100 of them.

    On May 10, we announced a series of final rules that will save nearly $6 billion over the next five years. Other rules, now proposed or finalized, will produce billions of dollars in additional savings, producing total savings in excess of $10 billion from just a small fraction of the reform initiatives.

    Also on May10, the President institutionalized his regulatory lookback with an historic Executive Order requiring federal agencies to continue to scrutinize rules on the books to see if they really make sense. That Executive Order takes three new steps. To promote priority-setting, the Order requires agencies to identify reforms that will produce significant quantifiable savings, especially (but not only) for small business. To promote accountability, the Order requires agencies to report to the public regularly on their past efforts and their future plans -- with details and deadlines. To promote public participation, the Order directs agencies to obtain public comments to see which rules should be simplified, improved or repealed.

  • Working Together to Achieve More Mission for the Money

    “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses,
    or the problems of modern society.”

    -Vince Lombardi

    Today, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the Administration’s first-ever set of Cross Agency Priority (CAP) Goals. This study is the first of many GAO is conducting on the Administration’s implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Modernization Act of 2010 and we greatly appreciate GAO’s strong interest in this area, its recognition of our progress, and its recommendations. Cross Agency Priority Goals reflect the Administration’s commitment to reduce duplication, fragmentation, and waste across agencies. They also reflect the Administration’s decision to tap the power of goals, measurement, and frequent data-driven reviews as critical change-driving tools to deliver more value to the American people. These goals aim to tackle one of the most difficult challenges the Federal government faces: solving national problems for which multiple Federal departments and agencies share implementation responsibilities. 

    In some instances, reorganizing the structure of government offers the greatest promise for fixing duplication and fragmentation problems. That’s why on February 16, 2012, the President sent to Congress the Consolidating and Reforming Government Act of 2012 to allow the President to put forward for fast Congressional action proposals to consolidate government and eliminate wasteful duplication. In other instances, and until Congress acts on the Administration’s proposed legislation, smarter management approaches that bring together expertise, resources, and skills from across the Federal Government can advance opportunities and fix problems.

  • On the Right Real Estate Track

    In June 2010, President Obama set an ambitious goal for his Administration: to eliminate billions in real estate costs by consolidating or selling off excess Federal properties that are no longer needed. Today, OMB is proud to report that agencies have made significant strides toward meeting – and exceeding – the President’s goal.

    As of the end of the first quarter of FY 2012, agencies have already achieved over $5.6 billion in real estate savings and are on track to exceed the President’s directive to save $8 billion by the end of this year – historic progress that will reduce costs and thereby make government more efficient and effective. The President’s directive included two parts: $5 billion in savings through the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) process, as well as $3 billion in non-BRAC savings. We are currently on track to exceed both of these goals, having achieved $3.25 billion in BRAC savings and $2.4 billion in non-BRAC savings to date.

    The Federal Government is the largest property owner in the United States. But over time, agencies accumulated more properties than the Government needs to effectively meet its mission. That’s why from his first days in office, the President has made it a priority to eliminate wasteful spending on Federal real estate. At his direction, agencies have worked to reduce office space, encourage wider adoption of telework, provide alternate workspace configurations, reduce operating costs, and consolidate data centers. Through these efforts, agencies have generated millions of dollars in savings from selling or consolidating properties, on top of numerous examples of lease cancellations, improved space management, and reductions in operating costs that are driving greater returns for the taxpayer.

  • Roadmap for a Digital Government

    When the Internet revolution arrived in the 1990s, the U.S. Government embraced this new medium to interact with the American people.  Today, what started as basic information pages has evolved into sophisticated transactional systems that allow us to pay taxes online, download medical records, and so much more.

    Like the 1990s, we are now in the midst of another important shift in how people consume and deliver information and services. In 2011, global smartphone shipments exceeded personal computer shipments for the first time in history, and more Americans will soon access the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs. The rise of mobile further compounds the challenge of providing high-quality digital services in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

    That’s why President Obama issued a directive today to make important services accessible from your phone and charged me with developing a comprehensive strategy to build a 21st Century Digital Government that delivers better digital services to the American people.

    Today marks the launch of that Digital Government Strategy (PDF / HTML5).

    At its core, the strategy takes a coordinated, information- and customer-centric approach to changing how the government works and delivers services to the American people. Designing for openness from the start – making open data the default for government IT systems and embracing the use of web APIs – enables us to more easily deliver information and services through multiple channels, including mobile, and engage the public and America’s entrepreneurs as partners in building a better government.

  • Continuing to Crack Down on Government Waste

    One of the Federal government’s most fundamental responsibilities is to serve as a careful steward of taxpayer dollars – to make sure that every dollar is well-spent and directed toward areas of high return. That’s a responsibility this Administration takes seriously. From his first days in office, President Obama has led a concerted and aggressive effort to streamline government and cut wasteful and inefficient spending wherever it exists so that we can focus our resources on serving the American people. From slowing the uncontrolled growth of Federal contracting to getting rid of excess real estate held by agencies and reining in spending on Federal employee travel, this Administration has already cut billions in inefficient spending across the Federal government.

    Today, we’re taking another important step forward in that effort. This afternoon, the Office of Management and Budget is issuing guidance to Federal agencies to take additional actions to increase efficiency and strengthen accountability in the areas of travel, conferences, real estate, and fleet management.

  • Introducing the IT Shared Services Strategy

    From the outset of this Administration, President Obama has recognized the unique power of technology to streamline government services, cut waste and duplication, save taxpayer dollars, and drive efficiency across the Federal government. Through the Campaign to Cut Waste and other efforts, we’ve shed light on Federal spending both in IT and across the government; unlocked valuable government data for use by researchers, companies, and the public; and turned back the dial on overspending in Federal IT, saving billions through optimizing infrastructure and tackling poorly performing projects. Now, we are going to promote responsible and business driven sharing across Federal IT to reduce spending further so that we can invest in needed innovative mission systems.

    In support of these efforts, last October I launched the Shared-First initiative to root out waste and duplication across the Federal IT portfolio.  Today, we’re building on that important step by taking another.  Today, I am releasing the Federal IT Shared Services Strategy, which will arm agencies with new tools to eliminate waste and duplication and update their services for the 21st century. 

    The new strategy was first outlined in the December 2010 25-Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management. It covers the entire spectrum of IT shared service opportunities throughout the Federal Government and promotes the use of existing and new strategic sourcing methods where agencies can combine their buying power for similar IT needs and get lower prices and improved service leverage in the process. 

  • Reducing Red Tape: Regulatory Reform Goes International

    Over the past year, the Federal Government has been working to implement President Obama’s directions for a 21st-century regulatory system, which he described in Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.”  Executive Order 13563 requires U.S. regulators, to the extent permitted by law, to select approaches that maximize net benefits; choose the least burdensome alternative; increase public participation in the rulemaking process; design rules that are simpler and more flexible, and that provide freedom of choice; and base regulations on sound science. Executive Order 13563 also calls for an ambitious, government-wide “lookback” at existing rules, with the central goal of eliminating outdated requirements and unjustified costs.

    Today, President Obama has built on Executive Order 13563 by signing a historic Executive Order on Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation.  The new Executive Order will promote American exports, economic growth, and job creation by helping to eliminate unnecessary regulatory differences between the United States and other countries and by making sure that we do not create new ones.  

    As I discuss in an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal, the order makes clear that in eliminating such differences, we will respect domestic law and will not compromise U.S. priorities and prerogatives. Even while insisting on those priorities and prerogatives, we can eliminate pointless red tape. Today’s global economy relies on supply chains that cross national borders (sometimes more than once), and different regulatory requirements in different countries can significantly increase costs for companies doing business abroad. As the President’s Jobs Council recently noted, international regulatory cooperation canreduce these costs and help American businesses access foreign markets.  Such cooperation can also help U.S. regulators more effectively protect the environment and the health and safety of the American people. 

  • World Intellectual Property Day

    Today is World Intellectual Property Day. Around the world, people will be celebrating the benefits and contributions of intellectual property to our societies. Intellectual property gives us art and entertainment. It drives the Internet and enables stunning advances in the fight against genetic and infectious disease. It stimulates our economy and creates well-paying jobs. It facilitates social networks and feeds the world. 

    President Obama believes that the American people deserve a smart approach to regulation that enhances economic competitiveness and public health. He knows that protecting intellectual property is critical to the United States. Our companies and workers create some of the most innovative products on the world market. Unfortunately, our consumers are also confronted with a myriad of dangerous and illegal counterfeit goods.

    Our closest friends around the world share this belief in intellectual property protection, which is why I asked David Jacobson, the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, for the opportunity to reach out to the Canadian people on Embassy Ottawa’s blog this morning. That post can be found here.

    This World Intellectual Property Day, the American people and economy will enjoy the benefits of intellectual property across many industries and disciplines. These intellectual property-intensive industries and the innovators within them demand praise and deserve protection. By offering both, we can harness their economic clout and competitive advantages, validating President Obama’s message that “if the playing field is level, I promise you – America will always win.”

    I wish you a very happy World Intellectual Property Day.

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

  • Job Training Cuts in the Republican Budget

    Earlier today, President Obama visited Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio to highlight how federal job training funding is helping unemployed workers get the skills they need to compete for jobs in high-demand, high-growth industries.

    In communities like Elyria all across the country, federal job training programs are helping meet a critical need. As manufacturing jobs have shifted from assembly-line positions to advanced manufacturing, schools like Lorain County Community College have partnered with non-profits, business, and government to develop job training programs that help equip dislocated workers with skills that match employer needs. Many of these programs depend on federal funding through the Workforce Investment Act, which supports employment services and training programs that serve millions of workers across the country each year.

    And yet just a few weeks ago, House Republicans passed a budget resolution that would cut spending for these kinds of services by over 5 percent in 2013 and 19 percent in 2014 – all while showering families making more than $250,000 per year with over $1 trillion in tax cuts. It’s an approach that fails the basic test of balance, fairness, and shared responsibility, and it would be a devastating blow to struggling middle class families in communities like Elyria across the country. Check out this chart to see how your state would be affected by these cuts.

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