- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2009

President Obama said Monday that federal agencies will cut roughly $19 billion from government contracts this fiscal year, putting them on track to meet his goal of trimming $40 billion in fiscal 2011.

“Business as usual in Washington just wont do,” he said during a White House press conference in which he also recognized a federal employee for her winning cost-cutting idea. “After years of irresponsibility, we are once again taking responsibility for every dollar we spend, the same way families do.”

The administration wants to reach its $40 billion goal by improving the management and oversight of contracts and acquisitions. Officials said the agencies are on track to reach their goal by trimming 3.5 percent in contract waste in fiscal 2010, and they must repeat that in the next fiscal year — an effort to reduce the government’s trillion-dollar deficit.

The president said the amount spent on government contracting from 2002 to 2008 more than doubled, and the amount spent on no-bid, noncompetitive contracts increased by 129 percent during that period.

“This is an inexcusable waste of money,” he said.

The president also said he will bring private-sector leaders to the White House on Jan. 14 to ask them about how the U.S. government can better use technology to give taxpayers better and faster service.

The administration said the White House Forum on Modernizing Government also will focus on the “significant gap” between the private sector’s and federal government’s use of technology.

Mr. Obama introduced the first SAVE Award winner as Nancy Fichtner, who has worked at the Colorado Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Grand Junction, Colo., for almost six years.

Ms. Fichtner’s winning idea is for veterans leaving VA hospitals to take home their medications instead of staffers discarding them when patients are discharged.

“Having met with Nancy a few minutes ago, I can tell you Nancy means business. She is a single working mom, she’s a clerk with the VA, she’s an artist, she’s an outdoors woman, and she is an avid hunter. In fact, somewhere in the Western United States, there is an elk that is breathing a sigh of relief because Nancy is here instead of where she would have been: hunting with her kids,” the president said to laughter. Mr. Obama said the idea was just one of roughly 38,000 submitted to the Office of Management and Budget and that the VA already is implementing the idea.

He also said other SAVE ideas prompted OMB Director Peter R. Orszag to issue guidelines Monday to all federal agency on saving money on energy costs and moving more workers to electronic pay-stubs.

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