The Office of Management and Budget Monday announced the four finalists in the Obama administration’s annual SAVE Award competition, recognizing federal employees who come up with innovative cost-cutting ideas.
The administration created the award in 2009, saying that the best ideas for improving efficiency in federal operations often come from the front lines. According to OMB, suggestions from nominees are judged on three criteria:
- Does the idea reduce costs in a way that is concrete and quantifiable?
- Does the idea improve the way that government operates by improving the quality of output at lower costs, or simplifying processes to reduce administrative burden, or improving the speed of government operations to improve efficiency?
- Can the idea be implemented administratively by the executive branch or would it require an act of Congress?
This year’s finalists are:
- Kenneth Siehr, for recommending the Veterans Affairs Department allow veterans to track the delivery of mailed prescription medications online using VA’s web-based portal, MyHealtheVet.
- Patrick Mindiola, for suggesting the State Department first use email to request additional information from passport applicants if necessary. Regular mail would only be used if passport processors couldn’t get responses by email.
- Dirk Renner, for recommending that comparable agency certifications, such as all-terrain vehicle training, be transferable across federal agencies.
- Buyar Hayrula, for proposing the creation of a secure website to allow Customs and Border Protection officers and agriculture specialists to collect payments by credit card at land ports of entry.
“These ideas alone won’t solve our nation’s fiscal challenges,” wrote OMB Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell in a blog post, “but they represent common-sense ways to reduce costs and improve our government for the American people.”
Last year’s SAVE Award winner was Education Department program officer Frederick Winter, who proposed that federal employees who use public transit benefits switch from Metro’s regular fares to the reduced senior citizen fare immediately after they become eligible.
OMB is conducting an online vote for this year’s best idea. Voting ends Dec. 20.