"If you want ideas on how to save money, ask the people who spend it. That’s what President Obama did when he began the SAVE Awards two years ago." That's the opening of Joe Davidson's Washington Post write-up of the SAVE Award, the collaborative process in which all federal employees were invited to submitted their ideas on how to save taxpayer dollars and streamline government, as well as vote and comment on others'. After a tough-but-fair crack about government acronyms, Trudy Givens gets her due recognition:
Trudy Givens, a Bureau of Prisons employee from Portage, Wis., submitted the winning suggestion. Like many of the other ideas, Givens’s suggestion is so simple, yet so effective, you wonder why [Uncle] Sam didn’t think of it earlier.
Her idea: Send the Federal Register — a daily compendium of government regulations and notices — to federal employees online, rather than by snail mail, with an estimated savings of $16 million through 2015.
As the SAVE Award winner, she got to meet the President and her agency head the Attorney General in the Oval Office -- here's a video we put together on that meeting and the process as a whole, give it a watch:
The Post also talks about the broader context, including quoting Chief Performance Officer Jeff Zients on how projects like the SAVE Award can help change the culture and make everybody more aware of what they can do to uproot the status quo and what they can do better. Along those lines, the reform and reoganization of government, announced by the President in his State of the Union and also being spearheaded by Zients, is using a similar process to get ideas for reform from federal employees on the front lines.
We were also happy to see the Post talk about some of the other finalists:
The Internet is going to be a big part of that. In addition to Givens’s idea, two of the other four finalists also suggested using the Web to increase efficiency and save money.
Paul Behe, a paralegal specialist for the Homeland Security Department in Cleveland, suggested advertising property seized by Customs and Border Protection online instead of in newspapers. That’s not good for the ailing newspaper industry, but the OMB pegs the government savings through 2015 at $5 million.
“After having processed the advertising for the Cleveland Port Office, I thought there had to be a more efficient way to comply with the statutes,” which require print advertising, Behe said by e-mail. “We used to process advertising for the Department of Justice and when I stopped seeing their advertising requests, I contacted the local offices and found that they were advertising online.”
Thomas Koenning, of Littleton, Colo., works for the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s (MSHA) Information Technology Center and suggested requiring mining companies to use online reporting forms.
“Although mine operators and contractors are required by regulation to file quarterly data with MSHA, the agency is not required to mail the multi-part forms each quarter,” said Koenning via e-mail. “The forms are mailed as a courtesy.”
Estimated savings, $302,000 by 2015.
The other finalist was Marjorie Cook, a Gobles, Mich., food inspector with the Agriculture Department. Labs send empty containers, that once contained samples, to the department using overnight delivery. Cook suggested saving money by having the empties returned by regular ground delivery. That will save more than $1 million through 2015, according to the budget plan.
A million here, a million there — it adds up.
Here’s the full list of SAVE Award ideas from Federal employees that were incorporated into the President’s 2012 Budget:
Department of Agriculture
Stop the Express Delivery of Empty Containers
Resource Conservation and Development
Buyout of Farm Service Agency Positions
Department of Health and Human Services
Expand the Use of Electronic Platforms to Conduct Research Grant Review Meetings
Reduce Travel Costs and Support Telework Participation
Department of Homeland Security
Post Public Notice for Seized Property Online, Not in Newspapers
Department of Housing and Urban Development
Department of Labor
Electronic Reporting at the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Bureau of Labor Statistics
Department of State and other International Programs
Limit Printing/Copying and Procure Multi-Function Devices
Paint Roofs of Embassies White
Department of the Treasury
Increase Paperless Transactions
Information Technology Consolidation
Environmental Protection Agency
Bundling Maintenance Agreements for Capital Equipment
Electronic Emissions Reporting
Reduce Travel Costs Through Video-Conferencing
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
National Science Foundation
Virtual Desktop Computing Environment
National Archives and Records Administration
End the Mailing of Federal Register to Federal Government Offices -- WINNER!