GSA expects to save $5.5 million annually based on employees’ suggestions

August 22, 2012

The General Services Administration will implement five employee-pitched ideas that the agency said will save it $5.5 million a year.

In May, the GSA launched the Great Ideas Hunt, which solicited ideas from agency employees. The effort yielded 632 ideas from 500 employees. Agency employees then voted on the ideas.

John Marrone, a customer service director for the Federal Acquisition Service in New York, suggested that the GSA review its newspaper and magazine subscriptions and cancel those addressed to departed employees. The agency expects to save $630,000 annually with that idea, it said.

Three employees suggested that the GSA replace its paper-based tenant satisfaction survey with a Web system, which would save $1.2 million a year.

“We want to better tailor the survey questions to make them more meaningful for our tenants,” said Jeffrey Sussman, a project manager with the Public Buildings Service. The current form asks how the GSA is managing federal buildings. Sussman said the form is generic and does not address some concerns federal tenants may have.

The Public Buildings Service oversees 370.2 million square feet of federal workspace.

The agency will also replace its employee survey, created by an outside firm, which costs $1 million a year. The GSA will use a similar survey from the Office of Personnel Management for free. Three employees suggested that idea.

The GSA will also set its printers to print double-sided by default. Jennifer Roth, who works for the Pacific Rim region, and Goran Simic, an electrical engineer based in Chicago, suggested the change. Double-sided printing will save the GSA $2.7 million, said Mafara Hobson, the GSA’s press secretary. The printing idea will be implemented government-wide, Hobson said.

The agency is looking at implementing 40 other ideas, as well.

Sussman, who enjoys building Excel databases in his spare time, has built a model to calculate the cleaning costs of federal buildings based on square footage. The model has been implemented in Region 2, which covers the Northeast and the Caribbean. Other regions have to walk the spaces and measure them or pull spatial information from blueprints, Sussman said. Sussman was also one of the four employees who suggested replacing the current employee survey. Sussman said Region 2 has saved $4 million since implementing the tool nearly a year ago.

“We wanted to send a strong message that everyone in GSA is responsible for and plays a critical role in reforming and improving the agency,” Acting Administrator Daniel Tangherlini said.

The agency will launch a public Web site to collect more ideas — the fifth employee suggestion.

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