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The President’s SAVE Award Website is a Treasure Trove of Ideas and a Thermometer!

I’m surprised that more government employees aren’t discussing the President’s SAVE Awards website more. There are about 5,000 ideas posted so far, of which there are about 50 good, solid ideas. Most of the other entries are simply rants/vents from a frustrated workforce, or duplicatations of other similar ideas (e.g. telework, combine agencies, go paperless, eliminate management, simplify taxes/budget, to green, use commercial services, etc.). However, even these complaints are valuabable information for engaged leadership. I find myself drawn to hear directly from my peers who feel compelled to share their angst and I often empathize with their concerns.

Take a dive before your window of opportunity closes on July 29th. It won’t open again until next year, but it’s a shame that each agency doesn’t have their own therapeutic system for venting. Every once in a while, a gem of an idea is bound to be released in the steam.

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

There are a lot of weeds among the now 5300 ideas and I haven’t read ALL of them, but the trends are emerging. There are no completely new ideas that I could see. Many repeats from the last couple rounds. Here are some of the trending topics:

  • Telework/Office-Sharing – Lots of Energy Around This Topic Area
  • Using Commercial Travel Services instead of SATO/FedTraveler
  • Reduce Federal Travel – Use Web-Conferencing/Teleconferencing
  • Reduce Federal Buildings/Vehicles and Office Supplies
  • Reduce Management Layers
  • Use Commercial Software/Systems and Personal Smartphones
  • Prevent Fraud and Abuse
  • Punish Congress First Then Feds
  • Make the SAVE Award/Suggestion Program Permanent and Agency-Specific

Lots of nuggets among the chaff, but the general sentiment is one of distrust, disgust, and a sense of helplessness to really effect significant change. I’m fascinated, but at the same time, I share their frustrations.

Terrence (Terry) Hill

By the way, the web tool that they are using – IdeaScale – is pretty good for a relatively free application. There is no filter besides a “report abuse” button and others can vote for your ideas (although most people seem to just jump in with their ideas). When you add a new idea, it tries to persuade you to explore existing ones, to no avail.

I have some issues with this tool:

  • There is no “disagree/down” voting. This is the most frustrating for me. It turns out that yes, there are dumb ideas (at least in my opinion).
  • There doesn’t seem to be a way to categorize ideas or merge similar ideas.
  • There doesn’t appear to be anyone monitoring the system.
  • Searching is limited to agencies or tags.

Other than that, I wish every agency tool the initiative to have their own version of IdeaScale to institutionalize this practice.

Carol Davison

Last year I mostly saw suggestions on the SaveAward. Most suggestions were good. Some were low handing fruit that could readily be implemented. Some people built on others suggestions. Some were not written in a manner I couldn’t understand. In some cases the suggester didn’t understand the problem. I suggested that they use categories such as energy efficiency, hiring, training, etc last year. I guess it wasn’t a good enough suggestion! The person who won last year suggested that those visiting VA hospitals get to take their medication home, which beneffited the patient and saved the VA the cost of disposing of it. I belive her award was to met the President.

GovLoop: is very well organized and written at a much higher level than the Saveaward posters. Maybe you could give awards to those who make great suggestions and announce it on Govloop! For example, if I cure cancer for Govloop, saving 1 billion, Govloop should give me 1 million.

Heather Richtfort

Another suggestion I’m seeing come up (although sometimes burried in ranting) is to stop giving retirement benefits to our Congress-people even if they only complete 1 or 2 terms in office.