There’s no question that last year’s SAVE Award was a great success, with tens of thousands of ideas to help government save money and be more efficient submitted by Federal employees. It was a first-of-its-kind exercise, called for by the President, to tap into the knowledge of the people who know government first hand. As OMB Director Peter Orszag – who was integral to the SAVE Award getting off the ground – has explained, many of those ideas have made their way into reality through the Federal budget process.
This morning the opening stage of the second SAVE Award came to a close, and its success represented yet another big step forward in harvesting the wisdom and institutional knowledge of those working in government to save taxpayer dollars. Whereas in 2009, employees simply submitted their ideas into a web form – a “black box” of sorts – this year employees were able to not only submit ideas, but vote and comment on ideas from others, allowing collaboration and crowdsourcing to help bring the best ideas to the top, to continue developing ideas, and to demonstrate just how widespread a problem or opportunity really is. All told, there were more than 18,000 ideas posted, 164,000 votes cast, and more than 13,000 comments registered from just about every agency imaginable. And they’re all public, allowing everybody from taxpayers to agency heads to consider the ideas for themselves.
Over the coming weeks, OMB staff will be reviewing the submissions and picking some of the best and sharpest as finalists for a last round of voting by the public in September. The President has always said that change has to come from the bottom up, and there are few better examples than the SAVE Award.