Since its creation in 2009, the President’s SAVE Award [Securing Americans Value and Efficiency] has tapped the knowledge and expertise of frontline Federal workers to help improve government performance and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.
Over the last five years, Federal employees have submitted tens of thousands of ideas through the SAVE Award on how to curb unnecessary spending and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations.
Last year’s winning idea came from Frederick Winter of the Department of Education, who proposed that all Federal employees who receive public transit benefits shift from regular transit fare to the reduced senior fare as soon as they are eligible. Fred’s idea, along with other SAVE Award proposals, was included in the President’s FY 2014 Budget.
Today, we are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2013 SAVE Award. Keeping with tradition, the winner will present his or her idea to the President in the Oval Office, and other proposals will be directed to agencies for potential action or inclusion in the President’s FY 2015 Budget.
With today’s announcement, public voting begins to select this year’s winner. Voting can be done through the White House website at: www.whitehouse.gov/save-award.
Here are the 2013 finalists:
Kenneth Siehr, Online Tracking of Veterans Mail Prescription Deliveries. The Department of Veterans Affairs sends the majority of outpatient prescriptions to patients via mail. Currently, in order for Veterans to track the delivery of mailed prescription medications they must call their local VA Medical Center directly. Kenneth recommends saving pharmacy staff time and enhancing customer service by making the package tracking information available to Veterans online through the Veterans Health Administration’s existing web-based portal, MyHeatheVet.
Patrick Mindiola, Electronic Passport Notification. The State Department sends thousands of Information Request Letters (IRLs) in response to passport applications via regular mail. These mailings delay the processing time for applications and result in unnecessary added costs. Patrick recommends saving time and money by responding via email first, requesting any additional information needed and asking the applicants to verify submitted information. Mail notifications would be used only when email addresses are missing or returned, or if no response is received.
Dirk Renner, Share Certifications Across Agencies. Dirk has worked for multiple federal agencies and recently found out that his USDA Forest Service All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) training was not transferable to the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, where he now works. Dirk recommends allowing comparable agency certifications to transfer from agency to agency or between departments. This change would save time and reduce duplicative training and travel costs for employees across the government.
Buyar Hayrula, Collect Custom Fines and Penalties Online. Buyar suggests creating a secure website to allow Custom and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agriculture specialists to collect payments by credit card at land ports of entry. Currently, payment requests are often sent via mail when a cashier is not available. Automating this payment process would increase revenue collections and operational efficiencies at CBP while also helping reduce wait times for individuals entering the U.S. at land ports of entry.
As we have noted before, these ideas alone won’t solve our Nation’s fiscal challenges, but they represent common-sense ways to reduce costs and improve our government for the American people. Please take a moment to pick your favorite idea from the list and help us select the winner of this year’s SAVE Award.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell is the Director of the Office of Management and Budget