5 Ways to Cut Waste in Government

This is the sixth post in our GovLoop May Blog series, exploring how to break down silos in government. Our first post focused on the “trusted leader” and the traits required for leadership across government. Our second post explored collaboration strategies on your team. Last week, we looked out to the future, and how to recruit the next generation of public servants and what skills are needed for the next generation of government employees to work across agencies. This week we look at acquisition and what is needed for government to cut costs and remove wastes.

In the video below, President Obama talks through some of his top priorities and challenges to removing waste in government. There have been a variety of different ways government has looked to cut waste, President Obama identifies some of the ways he has worked to cut waste at the federal level:

In the video president Obama identified a few ways to cut waste, here are five ways that we can work to make government more efficient:

  1. Consolidate Government Websites
  2. Go Paperless
  3. Where possible, renegotiate contracts
  4. Increase Telework and Webinars, reduce in-person trainings
  5. Consolidate IT

Acquisition is one of the most complicated areas of government, what are some ways you recommend to cut waste in government?

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Henry Brown

Always believe that even a little waste cutting will have an impact.

If 3 million employees saved 10 dollars a year by eliminating waste, the impact would probably NOT make a big difference in the federal budget (trillions of dollars) but it could improve the opinion of the population of the federal work-force

Peter G. Tuttle

Here are a few more, none of which are new:

1) Conduct market research to determine what the market can “really” provide.

2) Actually purchase and use COTS without requiring expensive customizations to modify commercial software to “fit” with some agency-unique needs.

3) Create requirements that are realistic, understandable and that actually distribute risk fairly between the government and industry.

4) Conduct meaningful performance oversight to ensure that gov’t is getting what the taxpayer’s are paying for.

5) Have regular high-level business reviews and not be afraid of killing programs that are failing.

Pat Fiorenza

Thanks for the insights, all great insights. Peter, you gave me a great list to dive into a bit and learn about, thanks a lot for sharing!

Peter G. Tuttle

Any time, Pat. Diving in and learning…then applying…is what it’s all about. Cheers and Happy Wednesday.


Don’t forget the role of the Inspectors General when you’re talking about waste. In 2010 the IGs recovered almost $7b through investigations into fraudulent activity and made recommendations for another $6.5b in questioned costs. That’s an impressive ROI when you think that IG’s only have about 12,000 employees and a collective budget of about $2b!

Eric Koch

Interesting, what about reducing waste in terms of purchasing using government charge cards? I realize this is not as common but certainly has some merit.