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The 2012 SAVE Award Final Four

By Jeff Zients

Note: This is a cross post from the Office of Management and Budget blog. For the original post, please go here.

Since its creation in 2009, President Obama’s SAVE Award [Securing Americans Value and Efficiency] has served as a vehicle for Federal employees to offer firsthand their ideas on how to improve performance and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely.

Over the last four years, Federal workers have submitted tens of thousands of ideas to curb unnecessary spending, both in their own agencies and across the government – covering everything from implementing new measures to conserve energy use to cutting back on paper copies of publications already available online like the Federal Register. These ideas alone won’t solve the Nation’s long-term fiscal challenges, but they are saving hundreds of millions of dollars and represent common-sense steps to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government and provide a better value to the American people.

Last year’s winning idea came from Matthew Ritsko of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who suggested the creation of a “lending library” that would store used space flight project tools so that employees would not have to reorder tools already available within the agency. Matt’s idea, along with 26 other SAVE proposals, were included in the President’s FY 2013 Budget.

Today, we are announcing the four finalists for the 2012 SAVE Award. Keeping with tradition, the winner will present his or her idea to the President in the Oval Office, and other proposals will be directed to agencies for potential action or inclusion in the President’s Budget.

With today’s announcement, public voting also begins to select this year’s winner. Voting can be done through the White House website at:

Here are the 2012 finalists:

Frederick Winter, Shift to Senior Transit Fares. Frederick Winter of the Department of Education proposes that all Federal employees who receive public transit benefits shift from regular transit fare to the reduced senior fare as soon as they are eligible. In the D.C. area, this change would lower the cost of the employee’s travel by 50 percent, with no loss in the effective benefits for the employee.

Angela Leroux, Reduce Employee Shuttle Buses. Many Federal agencies maintain buses to shuttle employees from one government office to another for work purposes. Too often these vehicles sit idle or travel their routes with just a few passengers. Angela Leroux at the Internal Revenue Service recommends that agencies eliminate or consolidate the bus service and encourage the use of conference and video calls, or provide metro cards to those with a need to travel.

James Szender, Use Digital Transcription. A written transcript of Federal meetings or hearings is often required. James Szender of the Department of Interior proposes, whenever possible, using digital equipment for transcripts instead of hiring a court reporter, since using digital transcription is significantly less expensive than contracting with a certified court reporter to attend, record, and transcribe the proceedings.

Laurie Dempsey, Post Customs Inspection Information Online. Customs and Border Protection is required to post a bulletin weekly that lists all imported items that have completed the customs inspection process. Currently, Customs ports across the country print this bulletin, which can be hundreds of pages long, and post it in the customs house. Laurie Dempsey from the Department of Homeland Security suggests instead posting the bulletin electronically on This change would save paper, reduce costs, and make it easier for the public to find out what items have been inspected without having to visit the facility in person.

I encourage Federal employees and the public to vote now for your favorite SAVE Award idea. You can help us cut waste and make your government more efficient and effective. We’ll be announcing this year’s winner soon. Stay tuned.

Jeff Zients is the Deputy Director for Management.