Annual SAVE award seeks money saving ideas from federal workers

”Rein”

The Obama administration Thursday launched its third annual contest for the best ideas to save the federal government money, looking to the front lines as Congress debates how to raise the national borrowing limit.

The SAVE award is part of a White House Campaign to Cut Waste that launched this spring (see video). The contest started accepting submissions starting Friday at http://www.whitehouse.gov/save-award through July 31.The winner will get a face-to-face meeting with President Obama, who will include the winning idea —and perhaps many others, by the looks of his current spending plans —in his fiscal 2013 budget proposal. Finalists will get certificates signed by the president.

”Congress, the president and the administration are working very hard to tackle our large-scale fiscal deficits,” said Jeff Zients, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, which runs the contest. “At the same time, we’re very focused on identifying ways to do more with less, and frontline workers are critical to this.”

“When it comes to improving service, many if not most of the best ideas of how you do more with less come from front-line workers,” Zients said.

Federal workers submitted about 56,000 ideas during the contest’s first two years.

Last year’s winning idea came from Trudy Givens, a Bureau of Prisons employee from Portage, Wisc., who made a simple, yet far-reaching suggestion to send the Federal Register online, rather than through the mail.

The estimated savings will be $16 million through 2015.

Ideas of other finalists that landed in the budget plan include eliminating paper paystubs, increasing the issuance of electronic savings bonds and requiring businesses to pay their taxes electronically.

And just this week, another SAVE idea made it into Obama administration policy with the Treasury Department’s announcement that it is requiring all of its commercial vendors to submit their invoices electronically by the end of the fiscal year. Zients estimated that savings at $450 million.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.

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