Now more than ever, federal workers are being told that they will be expected to do “more with less” for the foreseeable future. But what does a leaner government look like in practice?
Some feds believe that agencies will need to embrace new technology. “We can do more with less if government organizations are willing to embrace social media and other IT tools that allow employees to collaborate from around the globe,” said Daniel Crystal, an employee at the Department of Homeland Security.
Imagine a federal workspace where paper forms are a thing of the past, email and documents all live in the cloud, trainings take place virtually, and agencies only need half the office space because most team members telework several days a week. These are just some of the ideas proposed by employees to help save money and work more effectively.
“You can only do more with less by doing things radically differently,” explains William Eggers, Executive Director of the Deloitte Public Leadership Institute. “Think Netflix vs video stores. Amazon vs bookstores. Cloud computing vs traditional.”
However, not all public servants see budget cuts as a chance to innovate.
Federal employees are under tremendous pressure to provide services with fewer staff, often jeopardizing worker morale.
James Dobbins, a government contractor, explained, “[Doing more] with less often means fewer people, not just less money, because one of the largest, if not the largest, budget items is payroll. So the dynamic of what happens when those who survive pick up the load of those who don’t survive becomes an increasingly important concern.”
Some federal employees do not believe it’s possible to wring additional performance out of ever-dwindling staff and budgets. “If it were possible to do more with less, eventually we would be doing everything with nothing,” remarked Carol Davison, an employee at the Department of Commerce. “What we should do is eliminate all work that doesn’t produce results or add value to our customers.”
Other federal employees are focused on keeping programs running despite tighter budgets. James Mathieson, an employee at the National Transportation Saftety Board, offered the following piece of advice: “I think we do a disservice when we frame the argument in terms of doing more with less. To me the discussion is how we can maintain the level of service with less resources, or, if we can’t, what services are people willing to do without.”
Ultimately, resources can only be stretched so far.
Some federal employees are worried about their working conditions, but also about average citizens who will be impacted if vital programs are cut.
Suzanne Heurtin-Roberts, offering her personal perspective as a public servant, said, “I think if budgets are to be cut, then programs and services will have to be cut. The citizenry should be made aware of just what is being cut and what these cuts will mean for their well-being and that of the nation as a whole.”
With smaller budgets, can federal agencies really accomplish more? How can they maximize their limited resources?
Tell us what your agency is doing to stay productive with smaller staff and fewer resources. Chime in in the comments section or on Twitter using #FedBuzz.