The Greater Los Angeles Area YGL will maintain an environment that educates, inspires & transforms federal employees into prized promotable assets & be models for organization management that will be admired & emulated by agencies.
YGL-LA: Saving Money in Government. What is stopping you?
June 19, 2012 at 9:45 pm #164435
As our focus increasingly becomes how to save money in government and find more efficiencies, the pressure to find real dollar saving is greater than ever. Congress, the public, the president and many others have continually called for a reduction in government spending; especially in the discretionary spending realm. So, we, as the leaders of today and tomorrow, need to find real ways to reduce our budgets without sacrificing capability or organizational performance; in others words do more with less. We have all heard these words a thousand times over and I would think many of us are becoming numb to those words. So, what can we personally do as government employees to really reduce cost in government (other than just slashing budgets and hoping for the best)?
Many of us unfortunately do not get to play with budgets and do not get to see the minutia that goes into developing and spending budgets. This leaves a sense of being left out and feeling that we do not personally have any direct impact on saving money. I have fortunately been able to get a taste of what the budgeting process is like and I will tell you, it is not pretty. From a cost savings stand-point, the systems seems to be backwards in that we need to spend money to get more money. I will say that again; our organizational leaders are encouraged to spend money to get more money the following year. From my perspective, it gets worse since leaders receive bad reviews when they do not spend all the money allotted to them. Where in that is it encouraged for a leader to really take steps to save money and maybe even return unspent money?
So, the question becomes: how can we do away with this policy and what would serve in its place?
Also, if you have been a part of a real government initiative to save money and would to share, please share your thoughts below!
June 19, 2012 at 10:03 pm #164443
I’ve seen it go both ways. I’ve certainly seen the pressure to spend your budget, but I’ve also had projects where we figured out how to save money and either extended the contract (saving money) or just returned the money to the money folks (treasury?). I think that attitude is rare, but I enjoy saving money. Sometimes it’s not just about saving money but finding an efficiency that improves quality at the same time.
Perhaps our generation will use more common sense when allocating budgets, but until that day comes I can’t help but make the best budget estimate I can and return the funds i’m lucky enought to save.
June 19, 2012 at 10:35 pm #164441
Awards like this need to be more public:
SESers recognized for leadership, results with Presidential Rank Awards http://is.gd/DwuSdj
These SES Feds saved the government more than $36 billion according to the article and were recognized by the president. How can this trickle down through the agencies? Is it up to our SES leaders?
June 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm #164439
I know this is a grandiose idea but honestly the best way to motive people to save is to let them benefit from that savings. Most people aren’t interested in saving others money but rather their own. If some type of bonus system was put in place where agencies and or departments that save get to keep a fraction (small fraction) of the saving and use it for bonuses and employee benefits I think that could work.
So example if GSA saves $36 mil. Let them keep 10% of that an apply it to their employees paying less that year for healthcare. It’s a small benefits that would also encourage teamwork.
June 20, 2012 at 11:39 pm #164437
I agree wholeheartedly with that assessment. I feel most of our folks and organizations need this type of incentive system to facilitate real costs savings. The devil’s advocate position to this idea is folks might project very high dollar values for their budgets just so they can come in under-budget and reap the benefits. Another issue is unforeseen events could hamper an organizations ability to come in under-budget (e.g. Hurricane Katrina). We could inadvertently punish an organization for something that was outside of their control. Granted this does not happen to every organization, but it something that would need to be accounted for.
If we were going to stand-up this idea, I would propose to impose a checks-and-balance type system to prevent folks from over-projecting their numbers and compensate for those organizations that fall victim to circumstance. Maybe this can result in managers having to brief leaders on what cost savings they were able to realize and then having to prove the costs savings actually did happen. As an example, a friend of mine who works for Kaiser-Permanente has to show/present how much efficiency they personally garnered (i.e. costs savings) to warrant a positive performance review. In other words, these employees must prove how much money they saved. Maybe Government could latch onto this idea to get their managers to realize cost savings and then be forced to prove it to receive the payback.
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