Meet the President? Yes, You Can…SAVE Him Some Money

Flash back to the GovLoop retro archives:

President’s SAVE Award – Sounds Wicked Cool

That was my blog post one year ago when I heard about President Obama’s new project that invites Federal employees to share money-saving ideas.

Then this week, the White House sent me an email asking if GovLoop would help to promote the 2010 SAVE Award Contest (DEADLINE: July 22!). Of course, I said, “Yes, We Can!”

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s President Obama’s message to you:

Turns out the project has saved taxpayers millions of dollars.


Of course, the coolest part as a Federal employee is that you get to shake hands and share your idea with the President. Here’s the firsthand account of last year’s winner, the VA’s Nancy Fichtner:

“My invitation to the White House became the adventure of my life.

First we arrived at the VA to meet with Secretary Shinseki. What a joy it was to meet him. We took our pictures with him, and he sat down and talked to us. He talked to my son about the military (my son Alex had his ROTC uniform on) and my daughter sang Amazing Grace for him. He was moved. So on to the White House, and meeting the President.

What a moment in time! I came into where the President was and he came and shook my hand. I was not nervous, just amazed that this was really happening. He just started talking to me about my family, the VA, my children and elk hunting. I had to tell him about Kasey Ann skinning and gutting her own elk and how on her last hunt she wore flip flops. He laughed. He was so very easy to talk to.

We then went into a room filled with TV cameras and reporters. What an experience! The President talked about health care, the VA, my idea, and wanted to know where my children were in the room. He talked about my children being avid hunters. Afterwards, we then went into another room where the President met my children. He was very appreciative that Alex, my son, is going into the military.

I still think it was a lot for a little idea, but it really will save a lot of money and I am so glad to be a part of it. I can’t wait to see my idea come full circle. Thank you to all the people that made this experience a reality for me and my family. Lasting memory: Kasey Ann is still talking about his handshake. She said he really knew how to shake your hand and hold onto it like he truly was interested in you and what you had to say.

Nancy Fichtner is a Fiscal Program Support Clerk at the Grand Junction, Colorado Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She was the winner of the first annual SAVE Award

Here’s a video of Nancy sharing her idea with the President:

Don’t wait too long to submit or vote on ideas – the deadline is next Thursday, July 22!

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

This is a great initiative, but I noticed the same ideas submitted as last year. Also, nobody is taking the time to wade through all of the other 1000s of ideas. There are 100s of duplicates. I hope that agency officials are monitoring this website, but I doubt it. I do have to praise them for using IdeaScale, wich is free and easy to use.


Good point Terry. Needs some human labor to start consolidating. I also think IdeaScale is solid but it´s hard to look through the ideas.


Some I like
Ebay by feds for feds
Digitize faxing
Lots on firing bad employees
Eliminate use or lose spending
Let employees use Amatrak

My ideas (cant add as not .gov)
-Telecommuting hubs where in a region federal employees can share a building. Could improve information sharing between agencies and reduce costs. Lots of consulting groups have virtual offices which you book yourself

-Special hiring privileges for state and local government employees (stolen from Jeremy Ames) – state/local employees have great ideas and should be given 5 points preference for fed jobs

-Expand Presidential Mgmt Fellow program and properly market and push it like Teach for America

Dannielle Blumenthal

I am hoping they implement the Office of Social Media Iplementation, telecommuting expansion, and open seating/creative collaboration areas for non supervisors. #1 and 3 my ideas. Not to save the Prez money but to do a better job for our customers THE PUBLIC!

Shawni Littlehale

Even though their policies to date have consistently added to our federal deficit, I applaud the Obama Administration for attempting to find ways to actually save money in it’s amazingly vast bureaucracies. Best of luck to all who enter. If you would like to share your idea with the Pioneer Institute, we host an annual Better Government Competition (since 1991), which has provided government with a myriad of ways to save taxpayer dollars. Pioneer Institute will also provide monetary awards (from $10,000 to $1,000) to the top five entries. Please visit our website for more information at: http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/programs_bgc.php. I look forward to hearing from you, Shawni Littlehale, Director, Better Government Competition, Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research

Matthew Stephen Worner

Here is my idea…

In our May 2008 information technology technical security evaluation of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations at Chet Holifield Federal Building (CHFB) in Laguna Niguel, CA, we found substantial opportunities for costs savings in the area of telecommunications (see our report here). We found that ICE did not have an accurate inventory of its telecommunications lines at CHFB. For example, we found that ICE could save $17,412 annually by disconnecting a non-operational telecommunications line. Specifically, we noted that ICE was paying a $1,451 monthly fee for a telecommunications line that has not been used since the implementation of the DHS OneNet (e.g. OneNet is an enterprise-wide communications network that will is envisioned to provide DHS components with secure data, voice, video, tactical radio, and satellite communications between internal and external DHS resources). After determining that this telecommunications line was not being used, we recommended that ICE disconnect the line immediately. To date, over one million dollars in cost savings has been achieved alone at CHFB. If DHS completed an inventory of its telecommunications networks and disconnected those that were inactive (for example, due to the implementation of OneNet), the agency could potentially save tax payers in the range of millions of dollars. Further, if the federal government also completed this same inventory and disconnected those telecommunications lines that were not in use, the cost savings could be in the billions of dollars.

I am submitting this idea on behalf of Frank Deffer, Sharon Huiswoud, Beverly Dale, Kevin Burke, Domingo Alvarez, and Matthew Worner, the audit team that produced this great report.

Jennifer Funkhouser

I’m a state employee working for an entirely federally funded program – Social Security Disability. I have many ideas… wonder if I count?