On Tuesday night, President Obama spoke about giving the American people a government that’s not only more affordable, but also more effective and more efficient. Federal employees are important partners in that effort. From inspecting the food heading to our tables and making sure Social Security checks go out on time to treating wounded troops and helping returning Veterans pursue higher education, Federal employees are working day in and day out to serve the American people. The President believes these frontline workers are essential to any effort to improve government.
That’s why he launched the first ever SAVE Award in 2009 to gather ideas from employees across the country about how to cut waste and make government work smarter for the American people. Today, the President met with the employee who the public voted this year’s winner: Trudy Givens of Portage, Wisconsin.
Trudy is a 19-year employee of the Bureau of Prisons, currently serving as a Business Administrator at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oxford, Wisconsin. Over the course of her career, Trudy noticed that several copies of the Federal Register — the federal government’s official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices from Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents– were delivered to her workplace several times per week, but employees rarely referenced the documents. The Federal Register was made available online years ago, and most members of the interested public reference that online version now. Trudy thought that in keeping with the President’s spirit of cutting out waste and going green, the government should cease the printing and mailing of thousands of Federal Registers to employees who don’t need them.
Even ideas that sound small can add up. Printing just one page of the Federal Register costs a little more than a penny, but when you amplify that across the whole of government, suddenly your talking millions of dollars. We expect to save the vast majority of those dollars – at current costs that could be up to $4 million dollars per year-- by limiting print distribution to those who need it.
And Trudy’s not alone. Employees across the government are contributing ideas to make their agency work more effectively and efficiently. Through the SAVE competition, we are starting to see a cultural shift where employees are really becoming engaged in rooting out waste. Several agencies including the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Interior, and Defense have launched their own internal competitions or online engagement tools to encourage employees to submit their ideas to save money and make government work more efficiently and effectively all year round.
It is incumbent upon all of us in public service to be conscientious stewards of your taxpayer dollars. But it is particularly important to do so when the fiscal times are tough. Congratulations, Trudy, for winning this year’s award, and thank you for your contribution to making the government more effective and efficient.