Budget Office Decentralizes Cost-Cutting Contest

Agencies will gather savings ideas themselves, rather than leaving it to OMB.

Agencies will now be in charge of collecting practical cost-savings ideas from their employees for the annual Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) Award, rather than channeling all proposals through the Office of Management and Budget.  

Acting budget director Brian Deese announced the change in a July 18 memo to agency heads providing guidance on handling of the broader presidential management agenda in their fiscal 2016 budget preparations.

The SAVE Award has generated 90,000 ideas in six years—90 of which have been incorporated in the president’s budget—savings hundreds of millions of dollars, Deese noted. Resulting efficiencies have ranged from reduced hard copies of the Federal Register, to greater use of senior discounts for employee transit subsidies, to opting for ground delivery rather than next-day delivery of agency packages.

“Last year, as part of the administration's effort to institutionalize the SAVE Award process, federal agencies were invited to identify top ideas from those  submitted through the White House SAVE Award website and through their own internal employee savings and efficiency idea programs, if they have one,” the memo said.

“Following the successful employee engagement programs established at the departments of Justice and Homeland Security, agencies are encouraged to develop or enhance their own internal savings and efficiency idea programs,” he said.

The Office of Management and Budget will continue to review ideas from front-line employees and “help identify best practices among federal agencies and assist agencies as they work to strengthen existing programs and create new internal programs,” Deese said. “Agencies are encouraged to recognize employees with agency-selected ideas and include those ideas in their budget and performance plans.” 

(Image via larry1235/

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