The Final Four!


Congratulations to the four finalists in the Office of Management and Budget’s first SAVE (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency) Award.

OMB staff narrowed down the 38,000 entries received between Sept. 23 and Oct. 14 to the following four:

  • Allow citizens to make Social Security appointments online

This idea came from Christie Dickson, who works for the Social Security Administration in Alabama. Allowing online appointment scheduling will  free up Social Security staff to handle other inquiries on the phone, Dickson told OMB. Approximately two-thirds of Social Security phone calls she receives are for appointments, and it would save time for both employees and citizens if there were an online option for appointment booking, she said.

  • Allow veterans to take unused medications home from the hospital

This idea comes from Nancy Fichtner, of Colorado. Fichtner said VA hospitals should allow patients to take home unfinished prescriptions of medications they’ll continue to take after they are discharged. Current practice is to throw the unfinished medicine away, resulting in a waste and additional expense to both hospitals and veterans, she wrote.

  • Streamline how agencies handle cash from visitor fees and other funds.

This idea comes from Julie Fosbender, an employee at the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. Her plan would streamline the process for handling visitor fees and other funds for the National Forests. Currently, employees handling cash collected from campground fees, park passes or other fees, must account for and document what was collected, bring the money to the bank, convert it into a money order  and then turn it — and all of the associated paperwork — over to the unit collection officer. She writes: “The unit collection officer then recounts the receipts, makes two copies of the money orders and checks, creates a bill for collection, waits 24 hours for the bill to print, fills out a remittance report, runs two calculator tapes of receipts (one for her and one for the bank) and mails the package (via certified mail) to a bank in San Francisco, CA. … Why can’t we just deposit our collections into a local bank?”

  • Streamline subsidized housing inspections.

This idea comes from Huston Prescott from Alaska. Prescott recommended that the Housing and Urban Development Department streamline subsidized housing inspections to cut out redundancy. Subsidized housing funds come from many revenue streams, all of which require their own inspection of the property, confirmation of resident incomes and annual auditing. Since inspectors are often reporting the same information multiple times, Prescott proposed allowing the same inspections, certifications and audits be used to save time and money.

Now that the four finalists have been chosen, the public has until 11:59 p.m. EST Dec. 10 to choose the idea they like best. That idea will be included in the 2011 White House budget proposal. The winning employee gets his or her picture taken with Pres. Barack Obama. You can cast your vote here.

As for the ideas that didn’t make it to the final four…OMB passed along “hundreds of the most promising ones” to the relevant agencies and departments for possible inclusion in their 2011 budget plans.


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