President Obama made clear in his first cabinet meeting today, that cutting out waste was essential to the government’s mission of recovery and long-term stability. Speaking to the press afterwards, he gave examples of the government waste that had been already targeted:
“Veterans Affairs has begun using videoconferencing for meetings so they can cancel or delay 26 conferences, saving $17.8 million. The USDA, under Secretary Vilsack, is working to combine 1,500 employees from seven office locations into a single facility in 2011, which we estimate will save $62 million over a 15-year lease term. Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security estimates that they can save up to $52 million over five years just by purchasing office supplies in bulk.”
“So there are a host of efficiencies that can be gained, decreasing the amount of money that’s spent on unnecessary things in order to fund some of the critical initiatives that we’ve all talked about. Bob Gates just came out with a historic budget proposal with respect to the Pentagon, and we expect to follow up with significant procurement reform that’s going to make an enormous difference.”
The cabinet had been ordered to make further changes:
“I’m asking for all of them to identify at least $100 million in additional cuts to their administrative budgets, separate and apart from the work that Peter Orszag and the rest of our team are doing to go line by line with the budget and identify programmatic cuts that need to be made.
And in the next few weeks we expect to cut at least 100 current programs in the federal budget so that we can free up those dollars in order to put them to use for critical areas like health care, education, energy, our foreign policy apparatus, which is so important.”
Read the White House fact sheet that goes deeper into savings being found across government, ranging from action taken against fraud perpetrated on the USDA, to eliminating an international attaché at the Department of Education, to energy efficiency at DHS to going paperless at DOJ and the State Department.
The President then took a reporter’s question, “A hundred million dollars, isn’t that a drop in the bucket, sir?
“It is, and that’s what I just said. None of these things alone are going to make a difference. But cumulatively they would make an extraordinary difference because they start setting a tone. And so what we’re going to do is line by line, page by page, $100 million there, $100 million here, pretty soon, even in Washington, it adds up to real money.”