By Steve Kelman

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President Obama launches a cost-savings contest for federal employees

I saw a very nice article by Doug Beizer on FCW.com, "White House to get ideas from federal employees," for ideas about cost savings. This is a governmentwide version of something I have in this blog suggested for the procurement community — and where Mary Davie is gathering ideas in an online discussion in the acquisition network on Govloop. It is involving frontline civil servants in efforts to find ways to reduce the deficit.
 
As an incentive to produce ideas, Mary and I have been able to offer exposure in the comments section of our respective online sites. President Obama is offering something slightly more substantial to the winner: A one-on-one meeting with him and inclusion of the idea in the president's next budget.
 
I like this approach, for a number of reasons. It involves working with career civil servants, not against them. But it also challenges our career workforce to challenge themselves to go an extra mile to make a difference on behalf of our country. The large size of the deficit is a result (on the receipts side) of the weak economy, and on the expenditures side of efforts to prevent the economy from continuing into a freefall abyss. But everyone recognizes the deficit is a problem. Federal employees are in a special position to help with suggestions.

This could backfire on the administration. I suspect a lot of the suggestions will involve cutting funds from political sacred cows, such as Davis-Bacon wage protections for construction workers on federal projects, and the administration will decline to endorse them.
 
However, federal employees shouldn't take the easy way out by coming up with unrealistic suggestions that will never be considered. Come up with some viable ideas that actually could save money but still be possible to get the Administration and Congress to accept. I really think this is an opportunity for the workforce to challenge itself and to show what we all stand for.

And hey, I would love to see a reader of this blog win the contest!!

Posted by Steve Kelman on Sep 24, 2009 at 12:08 PM


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