Sen. Carper Hails Executive Order to Cut Waste and Save Taxpayer Dollars

WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, hailed the Obama Administration’s order to cut waste and promote more efficient spending throughout the federal government, an action that will reduce federal spending by 20 percent.

The Executive Order instructs agencies to reduce spending on travel; limit the number of cell phones, smartphones and laptops that can be issued to individual employees; stop unnecessarily printing documents that can be posted online; limit the number of motor vehicles for the federal government; and stop using taxpayer dollars to purchase government promotional handouts such as coffee mugs or t-shirts.

“The Administration’s decision today is a no-brainer to millions of Americans who expect their federal government to spend their tax dollars wisely,” said Sen. Carper. “As I’ve said time and time again, we must look in every nook and cranny of our federal government to find ways to save scarce taxpayer dollars. Getting rid of this sort of unnecessary and ineffective spending isn’t just picking off the low hanging fruit – it’s picking up the fruit that’s already on the ground. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, I’ve held hearing after hearing on ways federal agencies can increase efficiency and cut wasteful spending and I am heartened that many of those ideas we’ve talked about are included in this Executive Order. The Administration’s ongoing efforts to cut the waste plaguing our federal budget shows that we are going to continue to be relentless in trying to achieve better results for less money in the federal government. I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues here in Congress to see what more needs to be done.”

According to the Administration, within 45 days, agencies will develop plans to reduce combined costs in the following areas to 20 percent below Fiscal Year 2010 levels by Fiscal Year 2013, including:

Reduce Spending on Travel and Conferences: The Executive Order directs agencies to decrease travel and conference-related spending. Increasingly, travel will be limited to circumstances where the activity can only be performed away from the employee’s primary office (e.g., a diplomatic mission or enforcement inspection). Employees will continue attending local meetings and conferences in person but expand their use of teleconferencing or videoconferencing technology to participate in meetings or conferences that would normally require travel. If agencies are hosting or sponsoring conferences, they will use conference space controlled by the federal government wherever possible. Each agency will designate a senior-level official to be responsible for reducing travel costs. Examples of steps currently being taken are:

  • The IRS plans to utilize teleconferencing and webinars when possible, as an alternative to travelling to conferences and training sessions. This and other efforts will result in 27 percent less spending on travel in Fiscal Year 2012.
  • The Department of Energy is reducing travel costs by reducing the number of conferences, utilizing video teleconferencing, and issuing non-refundable airline tickets when travel does not require changes. This initiative will save $15.7 million in Fiscal Year 2012.
  • NASA is reducing travel costs by approximately $17 million in Fiscal Year 2012 by reducing the number of attendees at meetings and conferences, encouraging rental car sharing, and reducing foreign travel.

Cut Duplicative and Unnecessary Employee Information Technology Devices: Some federal employees are issued more devices (e.g. cell phones, smartphones, laptops, tablet personal computers) than they need to fulfill their duties. In other cases, IT devices are purchased but go unused. The Executive Order directs each agency to limit the number of devices issued to employees and establish new policies to ensure they are not paying for IT equipment that isn’t being used. Examples of steps currently being taken are:

  • The Department of Homeland Security previously spent millions of dollars each year by paying for unused cell phones and air cards. The agency now conducts annual audits of use and has saved $10.5 million to date.
  • The Department of Commerce saved $1.8 million to date and will save a total of $3 million this year by disconnecting 2,648 wireless lines showing no usage for the past three months – including those assigned to retirees and former staff — as well as by optimizing rate plans.

End Unnecessary Printing and Put It Online: In the digital age, it is frequently unnecessary to spend money on printed documents in addition to making information available online for the public. The Executive Order directs agencies to provide written information electronically and limit the production of hard copy documents. Examples of steps currently being taken are:

  • The Department of the Treasury plans to reduce spending on printing by increasing the number of paperless transactions it conducts with the public. In total, Treasury expects this initiative will reduce printing costs by up to 24 percent in Fiscal Year 2012. Treasury’s initiative to increase the number of paperless transactions it conducts with the public is expected to save more than $500 million and 12 million pounds of paper over its first five years alone.
  • Last year, Trudy Givens won the President’s SAVE Award for her suggestion that we stop printing and shipping excess Federal Registers to Federal Government Offices, which costs millions of dollars per year, when the content is available online. As a result, the Obama Administration cut the number of copies that Federal agencies receive by 85 percent within the past year, and continues to cut back even more.

Limit Motor Vehicles: The Federal Government spends $9 million per year on vehicles just to shepherd itself around Washington DC. The Executive Order limits executive transportation across the federal government and directs agencies to improve the performance of the Federal fleet. Examples of steps currently being taken are:

  • The Department of Commerce is reducing the number of fleet drivers to one for all senior departmental officials, including the Secretary. Reductions in drivers and vehicles are expected to generate $100,000 in annual savings.

Stop Swag – or Government Promotional Handouts: The Executive Order directs agencies to stop wasting taxpayer money on non-essential items used for promotional purposes, such as clothing, mugs, and non-work related gadgets.

  • For instance, several months ago the Department of the Treasury issued a directive to all of its bureaus to avoid purchasing any goods that could be considered frivolous or unnecessary, and to ensure that all purchases have a clear nexus with the Department’s mission and operations.