Meeting the $100 Million Savings Challenge

Getting the most from our taxpayer dollars requires ongoing attention and effort. That’s why at the President’s first Cabinet meeting on April 20, he called on Cabinet members to identify at least $100 million in collective cuts to their administrative budgets, separate and apart from those identified in FY 2010 Budget. In a memo that Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu and I sent to the President, we report that agencies have identified 77 cost-saving measures that meet these criteria – amounting to $243 million in savings through 2010 and $265 million including savings in the out-years. Of this, about $102 million would be realized in FY 2009, and about $140 million would be saved in FY 2010.
Proposed efficiencies vary widely in size and scope – from a Defense department plan to save $52 million in FY 2010 by replacing the standard jet fuel used by the military with commercial jet fuel plus the military additives to a plan submitted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to digitize its daily news clips – saving $1,000 per year for FY 2009-10.  The rest run the gamut; here are a few:
  • The Department of Agriculture’s US Forest Service expects to save $1.8 million in FY 2009 by ceasing to re-paint newly purchased vehicles;
  • Numerous agencies will save money by improving energy efficiency and promoting more economical use of resources like water and paper. The Department of the Interior, for example, expects to save almost $1.3 million in utility bills and operating costs by FY 2010 by retrofitting buildings owned by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service;
  • The Department of Justice will save an estimated $4 million in FY 2010 by requiring personnel to make their travel arrangements online, rather than relying on travel agents;  
  • The Navy expects to save over $10 million in FY 2009-10 by modifying maintenance procedures for submarines to reduce costs and focus on the highest priority work; and
  • The Department of Education plans to increase its reliance on in-house resources for planning events and conferences. ED will require all D.C.-based conference with attendance of 250 people or less to take place in one of the Department’s two buildings – saving upwards of $65,000 a year. They will also eliminate a contract with outside providers to conduct Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act training to education community stakeholders. Instead, ED will be using existing staff to conduct the training, saving $70,000 for FY 2009.
These savings reflect the President’s belief that even small savings can add up. We look forward to continuing to working with agencies to identify further savings as part of the 2011 Budget process – and anticipate that agencies will announce these savings in the weeks to come. And we hope that these steps will start to instill a culture of cost-savings and care when it comes to using taxpayer dollars.

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