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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

President Obama Announces Agencies to Save $19 Billion in Contracting Reforms

Meets with SAVE Award winner; Announces WH Forum on Modernizing Government

WASHINGTON – As part of his effort to cut waste and improve government performance, President Barack Obama will announce today that federal agencies are on track to save $19 billion through improvements to their contracting and acquisition practices. In addition, the President will announce that the White House will convene private sector leaders next month to solicit their ideas about how government can better use technology to deliver more effective and efficient services to American taxpayers.

"We are here today for a simple reason: at a time when we face not only a fiscal crisis, but also a host of difficult challenges as a nation, business as usual in Washington just won’t do,” said President Obama. “After years of irresponsibility, we are once again taking responsibility for every dollar we spend, the same way families do."

Earlier this year, the Administration instructed federal agencies to save $40 billion a year through strengthened contracting practices and management oversight. The work started with 3.5 percent in savings FY 2010 and a further 3.5 percent reduction in FY 2011. Agencies are on track to meet the FY 2010 target, having identified more than $19 billion in savings, in line with the 3.5 percent first-year target.

Also today, the President announced that on January 14, 2010, the White House will host the White House Forum on Modernizing Government. The forum will focus on the significant gap existing between private sector and federal government use of technology to drive productivity and improve service quality.

The President will deliver these remarks after meeting with Nancy Fichtner -- a Fiscal Program Support Clerk at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)  -- and the winner of the first-ever SAVE (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) Award, a contest among federal employees for their ideas on how the government can save money and improve performance.

In just three weeks, OMB received more than 38,000 ideas on how to make government more efficient and effective.  OMB staff assessed the ideas, passing back hundreds of the most promising ones to agencies to include in their budget plans. OMB then winnowed the best ideas to a “final four.”  The American people were able to rate the “final four” via online voting which concluded December 10.  Fichtner, from Loma, Colorado, was voted the winner. Today, she will meet with President Obama, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Peter Orszag, to discuss her proposal. Fichtner, a daughter and granddaughter of veterans, has worked at the Colorado Veterans Administration Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colorado for almost six years.

Fichtner’s SAVE Award idea is for veterans leaving VA hospitals to be able to take the medication they have been using there home with them instead of it being thrown away upon discharge. As is the case in most hospitals all across the country, medicine that is used in the hospital is not given to patients to be brought home; instead, it is discarded.

The VA has already begun implementing Fichtner’s idea, and other agencies also are working on SAVE Award entries that were forwarded to them. In addition, OMB Director Orszag will issue guidance today to all federal agency and department heads following up on several government-wide reforms suggested by SAVE Award winners, such as moving more workers to electronic paystubs and saving money on energy costs.

A copy of the contracting reform report can be found here.