Yes, it’s sometimes possible to do more with less. But a great many agencies (especially at the bureau/sub-agency level or in smaller agencies) have already made most all of the changes that allow one to “do more with less”; in order to keep up with external mandates and new responsibilities that increased faster than budgets did; a lack of fixed costs increases even while costs of energy, transportation, critical contracts, etc. skyrocketed; and many other issues. As I heard it stated once: “[many agencies] have been asked to “do more with less” for so long that they are dangerously close to doing everything with nothing at all”. This means that for many agencies, anything we could do to do more with less has already been done, and the only thing we’ll be able to do with less going forward is, in fact, LESS.

The other trick to “doing more with less” is that there has to be agency discretion and management flexibility to determine how to take reductions. It’s pretty impossible for an agency to successfully do more with less under a massive across-the-board, for example; or under a set of externally-directed and specific reductions; as opposed to more focused reductions chosen by the agency that allow agencies to effectively plan and structure reductions.