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Obama orders travel, printing and IT savings

Nov. 9, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
President Obama will sign an executive order directing agencies to trim spending on travel, printing and information technology as part of the administration's Campaign to Cut Waste.
President Obama will sign an executive order directing agencies to trim spending on travel, printing and information technology as part of the administration's Campaign to Cut Waste. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Agencies will have to take fresh steps to trim spending on travel, printing and information technology under an executive order President Obama signed Wednesday as part of the administration's Campaign to Cut Waste.

Increasingly, for example, travel will be limited to situations such as enforcement inspections and diplomatic missions where the activity can be performed only away from the employee's primary office, according to an advance summary released by the White House. Each agency will have to name a senior official responsible for reducing travel costs, and employees will expand their use of teleconferencing and videoconferencing to join in meetings that would previously have required trips. Vehicle fleets will also be limited.

Agencies will also have to limit the number of cellphones, smartphones, and laptop and tablet computers issued to employees, and they must establish new policies to make sure that they are not paying for IT equipment that is unused.

The executive order tells officials to curtail production of paper documents and to provide written information electronically.

The order also tells agencies to avoid promotional giveaways, such as clothing and coffee mugs.

Agencies will have 45 days to deliver plans for cumulatively reducing spending in those areas by 20 percent in comparison with fiscal 2010 levels. They are currently under orders to pare administrative spending by $2.1 billion this fiscal year, leaving it unclear how much more the new executive order is expected to save in fiscal 2013.

The White House cited an array of cost-cutting steps that agencies are already taking in these areas. NASA, for example, is cutting this year's travel budget by about $17 million by reducing foreign travel, encouraging rental-car sharing and other steps, the White House said, while the Commerce Department is on track to save $3 million by disconnecting about 2,650 wireless lines that were unused for the last three months.

On a related front, the White House announced the finalists for this year's SAVE award, created in 2009 to seek federal employees' ideas for making government more efficient.

The four finalists are NASA employee Matt Ritsko, who recommends creation of a "lending library" to avoid duplicative purchases of expensive tools; Eileen Hearty, a Housing and Urban Development Department employee who suggests eliminating travel to inspect properties already rated superior; Kevin Korzenieski, a Treasury Department staffer who proposes an end to buying U.S. Code books, which are available online, for new attorneys; and Faith Stanfield, a Social Security Administration employee who suggests the agency stop printing and mailing OASIS magazine, which goes to almost 90,000 SSA employees, and put it online. Anyone can vote for the winner of the contest by going to http://www.whitehouse.gov/Save-Award">www.whitehouse.gov/Save-Award.

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