Cutting Costs Cutting CostsCutting Costs
Inside the effort to improve the efficiency of federal operations.

The One Question You Must Ask If You Want to Motivate Your Team

When you think about energizing your staff, if you're like most leaders, you focus on the people, or maybe their surroundings.

But if you want to lead an energized, motivated team, the first place you want to focus is on yourself. More specifically, focus on your motivations. Ask yourself one question: “Why do I want to lead?”

There are typically five reasons people choose to lead a team. I call them the Five Ps. They are:

  1. Power
  2. Prestige/Pride
  3. Pennies / Purse
  4. People
  5. Purpose

Let’s take a look at the first three of these reasons people choose to lead a team:

  • Power -- you want the ability to tell people what to do.
  • Prestige or Pride -- you gain a sense of satisfaction from the title.
  • Purse -- you want the increased pay that often comes along with the role.

Many leaders who turn into bad bosses take on their leadership roles for one or more of these three reasons. Maybe they like having power and want the money that comes with it. Or perhaps their sense of well-being is wrapped up in having what they see as an important title.

The problem with trying to lead from these motivations is that...

This Is Why People Hate the Government

The Treasury Inspector General report on the IRS mishandling of conservative advocacy group applications for tax exempt status between March 2010 and February 2012 was released Tuesday, and it is a doozy.

The report, conveniently titled "Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review" -- in case you had any question as to its conclusions -- points the finger at "ineffective management" as the cause of the improper selection of groups using the words "Tea Party," "Patriot" and "9/12" for additional review and questioning.

The report fills in some important blanks in our knowledge about how the groups were selected and how their applications were managed. Most intriguing to me is the apparent case of this one guy in an office in Cincinnati who sat on the selected applications for 13 months because he or she was waiting for assistance from the Washington, D.C., office, which took forever to arrive. Talk about your bureaucratic cul-de-sacs!

Read more at The Atlantic.

No, Oncologists Are Not Going Broke

When the automatic spending cuts kicked in for Medicare this month, every doctor saw a 2 percent reduction in reimbursement from the government insurance program. But cancer doctors have made the most noise. A front-page Washington Post story reported that thousands of cancer patients were being turned away by doctors who could no longer afford to treat them. Members of Congress responded quickly, introducing legislation to reverse the cancer reimbursement cuts and asking the Health and Human Services Department to reinterpret the sequester law to exempt oncologists. “This particular cut itself is so devastating to cancer patients that this is one that we just have to see our way to improving and fixing,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., who sponsored the bill to reverse the cancer cuts. (The doctors are unlikely to find an ally in President Obama, whose budget last week recommended even deeper cuts to their reimbursement.)

Partly, this is political theater. While some oncologists warn that patients will lose access to lifesaving care, others admit they’ll simply absorb the cuts and keep treating their ailing charges. Their median compensation was $430,695 in 2011, according to the Medical Group Management Association. But the situation also...

Defense Department Goes Green to Save Lives, Not Environment

Defense Department officials are pushing forward with an array of green energy initiatives, but saving the environment isn’t what’s driving their interest. Instead, they’re seeking to save lives and dollars. 

Defense officials are beginning to test solar-powered devices for troops in Afghanistan with the hope of reducing the number of fuel convoys, which are often targets of insurgent attacks.

Unlike previous wars, the conflict in Afghanistan does not have a clear battlefront. Instead, isolated hubs of American soldiers are connect by a wiry web of supply roads – often through unsecured lands where enemies attack, killing soldiers and cutting off fuel and water supplies.

From 2003 to 2007, more than 3,000 American troops were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan on resupply missions, according to an Army report.

“You have a quick reaction force that every day almost winds up in a fight because they’ve got to protect the convoy,” former Army Capt. Mike Breen, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and now is executive director of the Center for National Policy, said. “You’re doing all of these incredibly inefficient things, and it’s costing you lives and force structure.”

To cut back on dangerous fuel...

GOP Seeks to Unwind Health Care Overhaul By Starving Agencies of Funding

Their sights might be lowered, but they haven’t surrendered.

This week marks the one-year anniversary of Supreme Court arguments that resulted in the Affordable Care Act being upheld, and Republicans are re-tailoring their battle plan to fit the landscape.

Instead of pushing for a straightforward repeal by Congress -- which would never get by the Democratic-controlled Senate, let alone President Obama -- leaders are using the budgeting process to mount an attack against the agencies charged with executing the overhaul.

It’s a simple theory: If you can’t get rid of the law, sever its life source.

The largest changes included in the Affordable Care Act take effect next year -- most notably expanding Medicaid coverage to people whose income is lower than 133 percent of the poverty level -- giving Republicans who control the House the chance to snip provisions line-by-line during budget negotiations.

On March 21, the House passed a budget plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that would remove funding for the law instead of trying to remove it from the books altogether.

But it’s not that simple, experts say. Such a plan might wound Obama’s landmark achievement, but would leave its vital organs intact.

“It would...