Launched in 2009 as an overture to the federal workforce, the contest asks federal employees and the general public to participate in an online voting contest to pick the best of four ideas to cut federal spending. Each year’s winner earns an Oval Office meeting with President Obama and has the idea incorporated into future federal budget proposals.
In a nod to the White House’s cost-cutting initiatives, Obama hosted a videoconference with the four finalists Wednesday instead of flying them in person to Washington for the announcement.
“You guys should take enormous pride in the work that you’re doing,” Obama told the finalists during the meeting.
One of this year’s finalists is Matthew Ritsko, a NASA employee from Maryland who suggested establishing an agency “lending library” to avoid duplicative purchases of expensive tools.
“It’s like a toolshed at your house” where tools are retrieved and then returned, Ritsko told Obama on Wednesday.
The president said he liked the idea of having all NASA workers use “the same super-duper space wrench” instead of buying multiple copies.
The other contestants are Eileen Hearty, a Housing and Urban Development employee from Colorado who suggested ending annual visits to inspect superior-rated properties; Kevin Korzeniewski, a Treasury Department employee from the District who suggested that the department stop purchasing printed copies of the U.S. Code; and Faith Stanfield, a Social Security Administration worker from Ohio who suggested that the agency stop printing 90,000 copies of its internal magazine and make it available online only.
Federal employees and the general public may vote on their favorite proposal at whitehouse.gov/save-award.