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It's Time Again for Federal Employees to Help Un-'Stupid' Government Spending

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, July 14 2011

The federal Office of Management and Budget today announced the 2011 launch of the SAVE Award, a competition now in its third year in which federal employees submit their ideas to reduce waste and save money for government.

OMB is this year tying the initiative to President Barack Obama's recently announced campaign to cut government waste, a plan that Obama said was to cut "pointless waste and stupid spending that doesn’t benefit anybody." Led by Vice President Joe Biden, the hope here is to trim spending by agencies, consider ways to change the way federal spending is reported, and cut or consolidate duplicative or unnecessary government websites. One of the initiatives Obama mentioned in a video announcing that campaign, reducing the number of paper copies of the Federal Register printed every day, has its roots in one of the ideas that won the SAVE Award in 2010.

According to OMB, 56,000 ideas have been submitted through the SAVE Award contest in the past two years — over 38,000 in the first year, and, if napkin math holds up, a less voluminous 18,000 or so in 2010. Changes implemented to the competition last year, such as using the Ideascale crowdsourcing platform, asking federal officials to choose the ideas to be passed along, and putting the finalists' ideas out for public vote, will persist this year. Agency chief financial officers will also be reviewing the ideas this year.

The past finalists' ideas have been crushingly simple, when you consider that the processes that keep this country moving have inefficiencies like paying for express next-day shipping for used lab containers or bulky reports that can only be accepted by mail rather than email. Then again, the best ideas are often the simplest ones — from Really Simple Syndication to the common spork.

Federal employees have until July 29, 2011 to submit their ideas for this year's awards.