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10 Ways to Reduce Wasteful Gov't Spending

10 Ways to Reduce Wasteful Spending

Every year, government agencies put forth ideas on how their particular department can save money. This year, the Obama administration is proposing 126 cost saving measures totaling $23 billion for the 2011 federal budget. Some of these measures are big-ticket items involving the reduction or deletion of specific programs that can save hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars on their own.Other measures are small, common cost-saving measures that often equate to turning out the lights wh
Image Source: Getty Images

Every year, government agencies put forth ideas on how their particular department can save money. This year, the Obama administration is proposing 126 cost saving measures totaling $23 billion for the 2011 federal budget. Some of these measures are big-ticket items involving the reduction or deletion of specific programs that can save hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars on their own.

Other measures are small, common cost-saving measures that often equate to turning out the lights when one leaves a room or not throwing away items that are still perfectly usable. These proposals only amount to savings of roughly $200 million in the 2011 budget, but if some of them were enacted throughout the federal government, the savings could be potentially huge, said Steve Ellis, vice president for Taxpayers for Common Sense, a non-partisan government watchdog group. But such mandates are rare, so simple savings maneuvers are often championed by only a handful of departments, he added.

"There are things to eliminate waste that should be done government-wide, and often times they're things that are already going on in companies and even in our homes," Ellis said.

Here, we take a look at 10 cost-saving measures the administration is considering that do not involve staffing reductions or elimination of programs — measures that could be implemented today.

Click ahead to see 10 ways the government plans to reduce wasteful spending in 2011.

By Constance Parten
Published: 26 July, 2010

Source: Office of Management and Budget

Don't Throw Away the Meds

Department: Veterans AffairsEstimated Annual Savings: $2 millionWhenever patients left a hospital, their leftover medications — like eyedrops and inhalers — were just thrown away. Often, veterans would have to go right to the pharmacy to refill what was discarded. The department plans to implement in 2011 a plan to re-label and dispense certain inpatient medications for outpatient use. Approximately 300 medications are candidates for the relabeling effort.
Image Source: Getty Images

Department: Veterans Affairs
Estimated Annual Savings: $2 million

Whenever patients left a hospital, their leftover medications — like eyedrops and inhalers — were just thrown away. Often, veterans would have to go right to the pharmacy to refill what was discarded. The department plans to implement in 2011 a plan to re-label and dispense certain inpatient medications for outpatient use. Approximately 300 medications are candidates for the relabeling effort.

Source: Office of Management and Budget

Power Off Computers

Department: Labor and Veterans AffairsEstimated Annual Savings: $6.94 millionThe veterans affairs department wants to "demonstrate its commitment to greening and environmental responsibility" by having staff members turn off their computers when they are not in use. The department says it could save $6.9 million, including related "soft cost" savings.The labor department says it could save roughly $50 per computer annually with full power-down compliance, for an annual cost saving of about $40,0
Image Source: Daisuke Morita | Photodisc | Getty Images

Department: Labor and Veterans Affairs
Estimated Annual Savings: $6.94 million

The veterans affairs department wants to "demonstrate its commitment to greening and environmental responsibility" by having staff members turn off their computers when they are not in use. The department says it could save $6.9 million, including related "soft cost" savings.

The labor department says it could save roughly $50 per computer annually with full power-down compliance, for an annual cost saving of about $40,000.

Source: Office of Management and Budget

'Right-Size' Travel Budgets

Department: Justice and InteriorEstimated Annual Savings: $32 million

Department: Justice and Interior
Estimated Annual Savings: $32 million

The Justice Department expects to spend between $450 million and $500 million on personnel travel in 2010. The department's $20 million proposed reduction in 2011 will be divided throughout the department, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation receiving the largest reduction at $10 million.

The Interior Department plans to reduce travel and relocation expenditures by $12 million through increased teleconferencing and focusing on funding only highest priority mission travel.

Source: Office of Management and Budget

Reduce Additions to Auto Fleet

Department: JusticeEstimated Annual Savings: $4 millionEach year, the FBI's fleet program acquires additional vehicles to accomodate new staff and replace aging vehicles. The bureau currently maintains more than 11,000 light-duty sedans. The new budget would allow for approximately 1,250 aging vehicles to be replaced.
Image Source: Getty Images

Department: Justice
Estimated Annual Savings: $4 million

Each year, the FBI's fleet program acquires additional vehicles to accomodate new staff and replace aging vehicles. The bureau currently maintains more than 11,000 light-duty sedans. The new budget would allow for approximately 1,250 aging vehicles to be replaced.

Source: Office of Management and Budget

Change Cell Phone Plans

Department: DefenseEstimated Annual Savings: $2 millionThe Air Force can save $2 million annually just by systematically reviewing its calling plan selections and placing users on plans that are more appropriate for their usage. The Air Force has identified more than 12,000 accounts that could have more appropriate calling plans.
Image Source: Getty Images

Department: Defense
Estimated Annual Savings: $2 million

The Air Force can save $2 million annually just by systematically reviewing its calling plan selections and placing users on plans that are more appropriate for their usage. The Air Force has identified more than 12,000 accounts that could have more appropriate calling plans.

Source: Office of Management and Budget

Change Composition of US Coins

Department: TreasuryEstimated Annual Savings: $150 millionThe US mint's primary cost driver is the price of metal. In recent years, the penny has cost approximately 1.8 cents to produce and the nickel approximately 9 cents. The department says that costs have exceeded the value of these two coins by more than $100 million in prior years. By allowing greater flexibility in the composition of materials, the mint would be able to use less expensive metals in the minting process, and thus reduce cos
Michael Duva | Riser | Getty Images

Department: Treasury
Estimated Annual Savings: $150 million

The US mint's primary cost driver is the price of metal. In recent years, the penny has cost approximately 1.8 cents to produce and the nickel approximately 9 cents. The department says that costs have exceeded the value of these two coins by more than $100 million in prior years.

By allowing greater flexibility in the composition of materials, the mint would be able to use less expensive metals in the minting process, and thus reduce costs.

Source: Office of Management and Budget

Eliminate Redundant Inspections

Department: Housing and Urban DevelopmentEstimated Annual Savings: $550,000HUD wants to stop sending multiple compliance reviewers to program participant's homes, reducing costs by not reviewing and submitting duplicative reports. The department also wants to redirect staff to perform higher priortity functions.
Image Source: Bob O'Connor | The Images Bank | Getty Images

Department: Housing and Urban Development
Estimated Annual Savings: $550,000

HUD wants to stop sending multiple compliance reviewers to program participant's homes, reducing costs by not reviewing and submitting duplicative reports. The department also wants to redirect staff to perform higher priortity functions.

Source: Office of Management and Budget

Eliminate Paper Paystubs

Department: TreasuryEstimated Annual Savings: $2 millionWith over 100,000 employees, Treasury spends a considerable amount of time and money mailing paper paystubs. Two bureaus (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and The Office of Inspector General) already require all employees to receive their paystubs electronically.
Image Source: Photodisc | Getty Images

Department: Treasury
Estimated Annual Savings: $2 million

With over 100,000 employees, Treasury spends a considerable amount of time and money mailing paper paystubs. Two bureaus (the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and The Office of Inspector General) already require all employees to receive their paystubs electronically.

Source: Office of Management and Budget

Make Appointments Online

Department: Social SecurityEstimated Annual Savings: $150,000The Social Security Administration proposes allowing individuals who are unsuccessful in completing online applications to schedule through an automated online system an appointment for assistance in completing the application. The projected savings are based on the reduction in staff time to schedule these appointments.
Image Source: iStock

Department: Social Security
Estimated Annual Savings: $150,000

The Social Security Administration proposes allowing individuals who are unsuccessful in completing online applications to schedule through an automated online system an appointment for assistance in completing the application. The projected savings are based on the reduction in staff time to schedule these appointments.

Source: Office of Management and Budget

Increase Teleconferencing

Department: EnergyEstimated Annual Savings: $3 millionBy increasing reliance on computer web cameras and other video teleconferencing equipment, including instant chatting, the department expects to reduce the need for some business travel, yielding savings in travel dollars, as well as increased safety and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Image Source: B Busco | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

Department: Energy
Estimated Annual Savings: $3 million

By increasing reliance on computer web cameras and other video teleconferencing equipment, including instant chatting, the department expects to reduce the need for some business travel, yielding savings in travel dollars, as well as increased safety and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Office of Management and Budget