The White House has launched the latest round in its annual program seeking cost-saving suggestions from federal employees, the SAVE Award.

Photo/Jared Kofsky Photo/Jared Kofsky

“The President’s last four budgets have included over 80 SAVE Award proposals that are saving hundreds of millions of dollars and improving the way government operates,” Steve Posner, Office of Management and Budget associate director for strategic planning and communications, said in a posting on the OMB site. “We know these ideas alone won’t solve the nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, but they represent common-sense steps to improve government and provide a better value to the American people.”

Federal employees submitted more than 85,000 suggestions in the prior four rounds, raising ideas ranging from reducing wasted medicine at Veterans Affairs Department hospitals to using less costly shipping when mailing packages without urgent delivery times.

Suggestions in the program, formally the Securing Americans Value and Efficiency Award, are being solicited through Aug. 9. The winner is chosen by online voting and gets a meeting with President Obama and inclusion of the idea in the next White House budget proposal.

The award for 2012 went to an Education Department employee from Arlington, Va., Frederick Winter, who suggested that employees who receive subsidies for taking public transit in their commuting shift from regular transit fares to discounted senior fares as soon as they are eligible.

In addition to suggestions that have been included in budget proposals, with mixed results, others have been carried out administratively.

OMB separately has told agencies that when passing along cost-saving suggestions for possible inclusion in the budget, they should narrow their recommendations to their top three to five ideas, rather than sending five to 10 as in the past. Also, agencies may now submit suggestions made through their own internal employee suggestion programs, in addition to those made through the SAVE Award program.

In particular, OMB said it wants to see ideas that could be carried out across several agencies or government-wide.