Anyone who works for or around government for a few years usually cynical about the motives and agenda from elected officials–without regard for party or political ideology.
Last week, President Obama announced a plan to seek a $100 million reduction in federal spending by federal agencies. With the federal budget deficit projected to be as much as $1.8 trillion this year, and a stimulus package of about $787 billion, the reaction to the savings initiative fell somewhere between subdued and outright mocking.
One paper noted that, if he is successful in getting the $100 million savings, this would amount to about 53 seconds of federal spending of the annual operating budgets for Cabinet agencies, excluding the Iraq and Afghan wars and the stimulus bill. As he noted after the meeting, " If they cut "$100 million there, $100 million here, "pretty soon, even in Washington, it adds up to real money."
So, perhaps to counter the growing criticism voiced in the April 15th tea parties and elsewhere, the president has announced a plan to ask federal employees for help in cutting federal spending–or at least to identify places where taxpayers can save money in the federal bureaucracy.
"We’ll put the suggestions that work into practice," said the President is his radio announcement on Saturday. "And later this year, I will meet with those who come up with the best ideas to hear firsthand about how they would make your government more efficient and effective." He also says that agencies will have an incentive to take advantage of this collective wisdom by letting the agencies keep some of the money by putting it into federal program that work. and taking it from program that do not work.
So, if your agency follows through and sets up a way for you to send in your suggestions to the President, you may have a chance to be on television in a made-for-TV "non-political" event on how to cut back spending in government.
He also announced that the administration will sponsor a "forum on reforming government for the 21st century" to make sure that "we’re also guided by voices that come from outside of Washington."
"We cannot sustain deficits that mortgage our children’s future, nor tolerate wasteful inefficiency," says President Obama. "Government has a responsibility to spend the peoples’ money wisely, and to serve the people effectively. I will work every single day that I am president to live up to that responsibility, and to transform our government so that is held to a higher standard of performance on behalf of the American people."
With the federal government in the process of hiring another 500,00 – 600,000 federal employees, and trillion dollar deficits looming for the next few years, we can probably anticipate that Uncle Sam’s civilian army will not be smaller or leaner in the near future.
A federal employee suggestion program has been in place for decades. From reading comments on this site and elsewhere from federal employees, many readers are probably skeptical about the ultimate success of a program seeking to rejuvenate this effort and some will certainly question whether it is a political stunt with fodder for the media on how our elected officials want to reduce spending–just after approving huge amounts of unprecedented government spending.
But, as noted by the Washington Post, Barack Obama "remained ever earnest, describing his suggestions as part of a broad effort to remake government into a smaller, leaner entity."