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President Obama Seeks to Stop ‘Unnecessary Printing,’ Spending on Swag

November 9, 2011
WASHINGTON, DC—Nov. 09, 2011—President Obama announced he would sign an Executive Order that will cut waste and promote more efficient spending across the federal government. With this order, the President is directing agencies to
  • reduce spending on travel;
  • limit the number of information technology devices (e.g. cell phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops) that can be issued to individual employees;
  • stop unnecessarily printing of documents that can be posted online;
  • shrink the executive fleet of the federal government; and
  • stop using taxpayer dollars to buy swag—the plaques, clothing, and other unnecessary promotional items that agencies purchase.

(Details of the cuts in each area are provided on page 2.)

Overall spending in the areas covered by the Executive Order will be reduced by 20 percent, saving billions.

This Executive Order builds on the progress that has already been made through the Campaign to Cut Waste. At President Obama’s direction this Administration has taken up an unprecedented effort to downsize the Federal real estate footprint, and is on track to save $3.5 billion in Federal real estate costs by the end of Fiscal Year 2012. The Administration has cracked down on waste in contracting, cutting contracting spending for the first time in more than a dozen years and slashing spending on “no bid contracts” by $5 billion.

In addition to today’s Executive Order signing, the White House will announce this year’s SAVE (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) Award finalists. The SAVE Award was launched in 2009 to seek ideas from frontline federal employees to make government more effective and efficient and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

This year, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) received nearly 20,000 ideas from across the country. With the announcement of the four finalists, voting will now begin to select the SAVE Award winner. Anyone can vote for his or her favorite idea on The winner of this year’s SAVE Award will come to the White House to present their idea to the President.

The four finalists are:
  • Matthew Ritsko, a NASA employee from Maryland, who suggested the creation of a tool “lending library” to avoid duplicative purchases of expensive tools;
  • Eileen Hearty, a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) employee from Colorado, who suggested that it’s unnecessary to travel to inspect superior-rated properties each and every year;
  • Kevin Korzenieski, a Treasury employee in DC, who suggested that we stop purchasing U.S. Code books for all new attorneys given the availability of the information online; and
  • Faith Stanfield, a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee from Ohio, who suggested SSA stop printing and mailing OASIS magazine—which currently is distributed to nearly 90,000 SSA employees—and simply make it available online.

Within 45 days, agencies will develop plans to reduce combined costs in the following areas to 20 percent below Fiscal Year 2010 levels by Fiscal Year 2013.

1) Reduce Spending on Travel and Conferences: The Executive Order directs agencies to decrease travel and conference-related spending. Increasingly, travel will be limited to circumstances where the activity can only be performed away from the employee’s primary office (e.g., a diplomatic mission or enforcement inspection).

2) Cut Duplicative and Unnecessary Employee Information Technology Devices: Some federal employees are issued more devices (e.g. cell phones, smartphones, laptops, tablet personal computers) than they need to fulfill their duties. In other cases, IT devices are purchased, but go unused. The Executive Order directs each agency to limit the number of devices issued to employees and establish new policies to ensure they are not paying for IT equipment that isn’t being used.

3) End Unnecessary Printing and Put It Online: In the digital age, it is frequently unnecessary to spend money on printed documents in addition to making information available online for the public. The Executive Order directs agencies to provide written information electronically and limit the production of hard copy documents. Examples of steps currently being taken are:

• The Department of the Treasury plans to reduce spending on printing by increasing the number of paperless transactions it conducts with the public. In total, Treasury expects this initiative will reduce printing costs by up to 24 percent in Fiscal Year 2012. Treasury’s initiative to increase the number of paperless transactions it conducts with the public is expected to save more than $500 million and 12 million pounds of paper over its first five years alone.

• Last year, Trudy Givens won the President’s SAVE Award for her suggestion that we stop printing and shipping excess Federal Registers to Federal Government Offices, which costs millions of dollars per year, when the content is available online. As a result, the Obama Administration cut the number of copies that Federal agencies receive by 85 percent within the past year, and continues to cut back even more.

4) Limit Motor Vehicles: The Federal Government spends $9 million per year on vehicles just to shepherd itself around Washington DC. The Executive Order limits executive transportation across the federal government and directs agencies to improve the performance of the Federal fleet.

5) Stop Swag—or Government Promotional Handouts: The Executive Order directs agencies to stop wasting taxpayer money on non-essential items used for promotional purposes, such as clothing, mugs, and non-work related gadgets.

• For instance, several months ago the Department of the Treasury issued a directive to all of its bureaus to avoid purchasing any goods that could be considered frivolous or unnecessary, and to ensure that all purchases have a clear nexus with the Department’s mission and operations.

Source: The Whitehouse.


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