Veterans Affairs employee wins cost-cutting contest

Allowing veterans to take unused medications home upon hospital discharge was the top cost-saving strategy in a governmentwide contest, the Office of Management and Budget announced on Friday.

Nancy Fichtner, a Veterans Affairs Department employee from Colorado, submitted this suggestion to the Securing Americans Value and Efficiency Award contest held earlier this fall. She will meet with President Obama at the White House on Dec. 21 to personally present her idea for inclusion in the fiscal 2011 budget.

OMB in September asked federal employees to suggest ways to save taxpayer dollars and improve government efficiency. After receiving more than 38,000 ideas, staff narrowed the list to a final four and asked the public this week to pick a favorite. Almost 84,700 people cast votes. The other finalists came from the Social Security Administration and the Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development departments.

"OMB staff assessed the ideas, passing back the best ones to agencies to include in their submissions for the fiscal 2011 budget," OMB Director Peter R. Orszag wrote in a blog post. "And the suggestions that were in need of governmentwide action stayed here at OMB for our staff to begin working on. Over the coming months, we hope to implement many of these excellent ideas."