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Obama Orders federal agencies to cut back on mobile devices, vehicles, and printing

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President Obama has signed an Executive Order to cut how much government agencies spend on technology devices, printing, swag, and vehicles by 20 percent. This new Order builds on the “Campaign to Cut Waste” that the President stated back in June. According to a White House press release, this campaign has already saved about $3.5 billion in real estate costs and $5 billion on “no bid contract” spending. Obama’s goals for technology saving are quite ambitious as well. Federal agencies will have 45 days to come up with a plan that will reduce their costs by 20 percent by 2013. 

Here are some of the ways Obama’s staff are suggesting agencies cut costs:

  • Lower spending on travel and conferences: By utilizing teleconferencing, webinars, and other forms of communication (we suggest Google Hangouts), the IRS will cut its travel budget by 27 percent in 2012. Other agencies will have to make similar cuts. 
  • Get rid of duplicate and unnecessary cell phones, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and PCs: Apparently, many agencies purchase devices but then never use them. The Order forces agencies to limit the number of devices employees have to only those they absolutely need. The Department of Commerce is cutting 2,648 wireless lines, for example.
  • Stop printing so much: The plan is to put more information online and not print things that are available online unless it is absolutely necessary. For example, the Department of the Treasury expects to save $500 million over five years and 12 million pounds of paper by increasing paperless transactions. 
  • Use less vehicles: Agencies need to improve the efficiency of the Federal vehicle fleet. The Department of Commerce plans to cut the number of vehicles and drivers it has to save as much as $100,000 per year. For reference, the Federal Government spends $9 million each year on transportation around Washington DC alone. 
  • Cut the swag: Agencies need to stop ordering so many promotional items like mugs, pens, and non-work related gadgets that have their logo on it. The Department of the Treasury has taken a lead in this, issuing a directive to avoid purchasing any frivolous or unnecessary items. It’s sad that this has to be a directive.

This is a good first step in reducing the inefficiencies that have built up in the U.S. Gov’t, but it definitely won’t be enough in the long term. Hopefully, further steps will be taken to cut back on spending and reorganize the bureaucratic nightmare that is our federal government.

(Image via Chicago Sun-Times)

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