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The SAVE Final Four and A New EO to Cut Waste

Since day one, this Administration has been committed to rooting out waste and misspent tax dollars in every agency across the Federal government.
20111109 POTUS Signing

President Barack Obama talks with the media before signing an Executive Order as part of the “We Can’t Wait” campaign, to cut waste and promote efficient spending across the federal government, in the Oval Office, Nov. 9, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Since day one, this Administration has been committed to rooting out waste and misspent tax dollars in every agency across the Federal government. From getting unneeded federal properties off our books, to cracking down on improper payments, to reducing the number of federal data centers, we have made great strides in delivering a government that is more efficient and effective for the American people. In addition, this past June, the President and Vice President launched the Campaign to Cut Waste, a redoubling of our efforts to end what doesn’t work and do more for less.

Today, the Administration announced additional steps we’re taking to build on these efforts. This morning, President Obama signed an Executive Order that will cut waste and promote more efficient spending across the federal government. The Order sets bold goals for agencies to reduce spending on travel; limit the number of information technology devices (e.g. cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops) that can be issued to individual employees; stop unnecessarily printing documents that can be posted online; shrink the executive fleet of the federal government; and stop using taxpayer dollars to buy swag -- the unnecessary plaques, clothing, and other promotional items that agencies purchase. Overall spending in the areas covered by the Executive Order will be reduced by 20 percent, saving billions.

In addition to today’s Executive Order signing, the Administration also announced this year’s finalists for the 2011 SAVE Award. President Obama launched the SAVE Award in 2009 to enlist frontline Federal employees in the effort to make government more efficient and effective. This year, OMB received nearly 20,000 cost-cutting ideas from employees across the country. This morning, I was joined by OMB Director Jack Lew and Deputy Director Heather Higginbottomin the Situation Room for a video-teleconference with this year’s finalists to discuss their ideas.

With today’s announcement, public voting will now begin to select the SAVE Award winner. Anyone can vote for his or her favorite idea by visiting And as in past competitions, this year’s winner will get to present their idea directly to the President in the Oval Office.

So do your part in our Campaign to Cut Waste and vote for your favorite SAVE Award idea. Here are the four finalists:

  • Matthew Ritsko, NASA: At Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA employees purchase specialized tools and ground support equipment for developing and building flight projects. Many of the tools are not tracked once projects are complete, and as a result funds are wasted on duplicative purchases. In order to cut down on repeat purchases, Matthew suggests creating a centralized tool repository – or “lending library” – where these tools can be stored, catalogued, and checked in and out by NASA employees.
  • Eileen Hearty, Department of Housing and Urban Development: All across the country, HUD contractors and staff conduct annual Management and Occupancy Reviews of multifamily properties (i.e. apartments) that are privately-owned and subsidized by HUD. Many of these properties receive high marks year after year and consistently provide excellent service. Eileen proposes a reduction in the frequency of reviews for high-performing properties – a change that would reward superior properties for their excellent work and reduce the travel costs, staff time, and fees paid by HUD for these reviews.
  • Kevin Korzeniewski, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency: When Kevin began working as an attorney in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, he automatically received a new set of U.S. Code books that get updated and reordered every year. Because the information in these books is now available online through LexisNexis, Westlaw, and free sources – where it is also updated in real time – Kevin suggests that his agency stop automatically ordering these books.
  • Faith Stanfield, Social Security Administration: Every quarter, the Social Security Administration (SSA) produces and mails OASIS, a 25-plus-page, glossy magazine to 88,000 SSA employees all across the country and over 1,000 retired SSA employees. The OASIS magazine has been around for decades; however, as more and more SSA communications shift online, Faith suggests that the magazine be released only in an online format to save money on printing and shipping that could be put to better use elsewhere.

Again, don’t forget to vote for your favorite SAVE Award idea. You can help us cut waste and make your government more effective and efficient.

Jeff Zients is the Deputy Director for Management and Chief Performance Officer.