recommended reading

Public Vote on Ways to SAVE

ARCHIVES

By Gautham Nagesh December 7, 2009

recent posts

FedBlog guest blogger Dan Munz had an interesting post on Monday about the White House allowing the public to vote on the president's Securing Americans Value and Efficiency (SAVE) award:

For the unfamiliar, the SAVE Award is an award for the idea, submitted by a government employee, that will most effectively cut red tape, reduce government bureaucracy, and generally make government more efficient and un-waste-y. The Obama administration has opened voting on the top suggestions to the general public, and the winning idea will be submitted in the President's FY2011 budget. The winner will also get to meet the President, which is nifty. I've just gone through the top four ideas, and they're not bad:
  • An employee at a national forest in West Virginia wants to radically simplify how the government processes fees that are collected from the public.
  • A HUD employee from Alaska notes that information on subsidized housing is often collected in multiple, redundant formats and instances.
  • A VA employee in Colorado wants veterans who are discharged from VA hospitals to be able to take their remaining medication with them, rather than having it thrown away.
  • An SSA employee in Alabama wants to enable appointment scheduling online.

These all reflect a good deal of common sense, and I think do a real service in showing the public that government employees aren't just cogs in a massive federal system; they, like the rest of us, are constantly surveying their environments, looking for new efficiencies or ways to just do a better job. And the White House is to be applauded for putting these to a public vote. The value here isn't just "transparency" for the public, but the ability for the White House to align spending decisions with actual public priorities.

Dan also questions exactly how much money any of these efforts could save, a fair question considering the initial investment that would be required to establish the type of systems that would schedule Social Security appointments, collect housing data or process fees from the public. But all three seem like opportunities to leverage technology to improve government service.

The Obama administration has gained a lot of traction in the good government community by proposing these sorts technology upgrades as a tool for cutting costs in the government. Three out of the four proposals above seem to fit within that philosophy. But veteran federal IT observers are well aware that technology projects not accompanied by compelling business cases are often doomed to failure before they even get started.

Which is what makes it curious that the White House thinks the public is capable of judging these business cases on the basis of a few sentences. I've been covering federal technology full-time for two years and I still wouldn't pretend to comprehend the variety of competing factors that determine whether a project is worth pursuing. So I find it hard to believe that the average visitor to WhiteHouse.gov is informed enough to make that type of decision.

Then again, this may be another one of those times when appearing to care what the public thinks about fixing the government is more effective politically than actually attempting to fix the government.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.