An End to ‘Monopoly Money’ Government Spending? Obama Touts Contract Cost Savings

Dec 21, 2009 1:04pm

ABC News' Sunlen Miller reports: Saying that the federal government can no longer spend taxpayers' money like it is “monopoly money,” President Obama today touted that the administration is well on its way to reaching his goal of saving $40 billion by fiscal year 2011. “In March, I ordered federal departments and agencies to come up with plans to save up to $40 billion a year in contracting by 2011,” Mr. Obama said from the Diplomatic Reception Room today. “And over the past six months, agencies have been making cuts by looking for better deals, by ending contracts, and doing work in- house, and by opening up no-bid contracts to competitive bidding  Because of these efforts, I'm proud to announce today that we are on track to meet our goals:  24 departments have identified more than $19 billion in savings for this year alone.” The President highlighted a report from the Office of Management and Budget that reported on the $19 billion worth of savings that were identified. Between 2002 and 2008, the amount spent on government contracts more than doubled. The amount spent on no-bid, non-competitive contracts jumped by 129 percent.  “This is an inexcusable waste of money,” Mr. Obama said today. Joining Mr. Obama at the podium today was the SAVE award winner, Nancy Fichtner of Loma, Colorado.  Fichtner, a fiscal support clerk at the VA medical Center in Grand Junction was one of the 38,000 entrants who answered the President’s challenge to all federal employees to submit ideas on how best the government can get rid of wasteful spending. Fichtner’s winning idea was that the VA should stop throwing away medication that is given to vets in hospital, upon discharge, and instead let them take it home with them. “Her idea stems from her experience at the VA medical center where she works,” Mr. Obama said today, “She noticed that, whenever patients left the hospital, leftover medications, like eye drops or inhalers, were just thrown away. And often veterans would have to go right back to the pharmacy to refill what was discarded. So the V.A. is paying twice. It's waste, plain and simple.” Fichtner’s idea, Mr. Obama said, has already begun to be instituted in the system. The President announced that the SAVE award will be an annual contest, to help identify – directly from the men and women who work for the federal government – how the government can do its job better or do the same job for less money. “After years of irresponsibility, we are once again taking responsibility for every dollar we spend the same way families do. It's true that what I've described today will not be enough to get us out of our fiscal mess by itself. We face a deficit that will take some tough decisions in the next year's budget and in years to come to get under control. But these changes will save the American people billions of dollars.  And they'll help to put in place a government that's more efficient and effective, that wastes less money on no-bid contracts, that's cutting bureaucracy and harnessing technology, that's more fiscally responsible and that better serve the American taxpayer.” The President also announced that next month at the White House he will hold a forum to seek more ideas from the private sector, specifically about how to use technology to reform government. — Sunlen Miller

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