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NASA employee wins cost-cutting competition

A NASA employee who suggested building a lending library to avoid repeat purchases of specialized tools and equipment is the winner of the Obama administration's annual cost-cutting contest, the Office of Management and Budget announced late Thursday.

Matthew Ritsko, a financial manager at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, beat three other finalists in the Securing Americans Value and Efficiency awards, receiving 19,000 of more than 48,000 votes from members of the public nationwide. He will present his idea to President Obama at the White House, and it will be included in the president's fiscal 2013 budget request, along with the other finalists' suggestions.

The central library would allow employees to store tools after projects are complete. The equipment would be cataloged, and could be checked out as needed. Currently, the agency loses track of many tools once projects end.

Other finalists were: Eileen Hearty, a Housing and Urban Development Department employee in Colorado who recommended less frequent inspections of superior-rated properties; Kevin Korzeniewski, a Treasury Department attorney who advised stopping automatic orders of U.S. Code books; and Faith Stanfield, a Social Security Administration employee who said SSA should move Oasis magazine -- currently printed and distributed to nearly 90,000 employees -- online.

In a blog entry announcing the winner, Federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients noted administration officials will review the roughly 20,000 other SAVE award submissions for possible inclusion in the budget.

The entries show "federal employees are committed to improving the way the government does business, which is even more important during these tough budgetary times," Zients wrote.

Obama established the annual cost-cutting contest in 2009, as a way to involve front-line employees in improving government's efficiency. The administration has now rolled the competition into its broader Campaign to Cut Government Waste, launched in June.

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// October 20
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