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Last Updated: March 23, 2007

Federal employees are more effective, making a bigger difference, as the following examples indicate.

Please email other examples you see of Federal employees making their programs more effective.

Turnaround in the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid Program
The Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid program delivers financial assistance to millions of American students so they can attend college. In the not so distant past, the office that administers this program was beset by mismanagement and waste. The Government Accountability Office reported that the program was high risk because it lacked the financial and management information needed to manage programs effectively and the internal controls needed to maintain the integrity of their operations. In particular, GAO cited the annual cost of defaults—$4.3 billion in fiscal year 1999 and $28 billion over the prior ten years. The program took aggressive action by establishing clear goals for improved integrity and customer satisfaction, and increased individual and work group accountability for results. It verified the eligibility of loan applicants, reduced wasteful spending on unnecessary IT modernization efforts, and focused on improved customer service. Today, Federal student aid delivers $74 billion to more than 11 million students / parents, including nearly $13 billion in Pell Grants to the neediest students. It has improved service by processing more than 11 million aid applications electronically, and has increased recoveries of defaulted loans from $38 million in 1993 to $1.8 billion in 2006. Most importantly, 90 percent of Student Aid on the Web customers say they would recommend the program to others.
Feeder Mice at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area
The Department of Interior’s Chickasaw National Recreation Area raised feeder mice to keep its Nature Center’s snakes and owls adequately fed. But when challenged to focus as much of their spending as possible on their core mission, it found that buying feeder mice, rather than raising them, could save time and money. Today, Chickasaw buys feeder mice from a private vendor and spends the $15,000 in annual savings to improve and expand its nature trails, which are more central to its core mission.
Department of State ‘Rightsizes’ its Overseas Presence
As part of the President's Management Agenda initiative "A 'Right-Sized' Overseas Presence," the Department of State has established a regular Rightsizing Review process for all posts overseas, including New Embassy Compound (NEC) construction projects. This process focuses on ensuring that staffing levels support mission goals, eliminating duplication of services, and promoting shared services and competition to drive down costs. Reviews will be completed at least once every five years for each post. Through these efforts, the Department of State has avoided over $207 million in costs in 2005 and 2006: $127 million due to reducing or redirecting almost 1,400 staff positions and $80 million due to avoided one-time construction costs.
Department of State Global Publishing Solutions
Since the end of World War II, the Department of State has operated domestic and overseas printing facilities to support our nation’s diplomatic and public diplomacy objectives. Global Publishing Solutions (GPS), the Department’s revamped in-house printing and publishing organization, won the agency’s first full and open public–private competition, which compared the in-house organization’s capability to the private sector’s in terms of cost and performance. By instituting market-based pricing and incorporating industry best practices such as the implementation of an integrated management software system for controlling production at multiple sites, GPS is reducing its costs by 32 percent, for an estimated savings of $80 million over the life of the 10-year, $168 million contract. By implementing ISO 9001 processes, modernizing equipment, and deploying e-business solutions that provide each customer a real-time view of each job request, the competition also drove GPS to be significantly more customer-oriented.
EPA’s Conserve Energy Reduction Program
The Environmental Protection Agency’s “ConservE” program is an EPA effort to reduce energy usage at its facilities. Starting in December of 2005, the ConservE program set energy reduction goals for each of EPA’s reporting facilities and developed a tracking system for energy reductions. EPA deployed new tools to help facilities reduce energy use: advanced metering, increased emphasis on building operations and maintenance, better building control systems, and audits to identify and address energy savings opportunities. EPA’s investment of $950K for ConservE projects in FY06 reduced EPA’s overall energy use 5% vs. FY05 and avoided $1.1 million in annual utility costs (FY06 cost basis) as a result of this effort, fully recovering their investment in less than 1 year.
Better Service for Less Money at FAA
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is dramatically improving financial management and cost efficiency while operating the safest possible air transportation system. A key initiative for FAA has been the improved delivery of flight services, such as in-flight weather briefings, flight planning and emergency assistance to general aviation pilots. As a result of a public-private competition completed in 2004, FAA was able to select a contractor to provide these services and save the Federal government $2.2 billion over the next ten years. The contractor, Lockheed Martin, replaced antiquated systems and labor intensive processes with state-of-the art technology, modern facilities, and high-quality customer service.
Turnaround at the Government Printing Office
The Government Printing Office has managed to transform itself from an old-fashioned printing house into a 21st century digital information processing facility, and has managed to achieve this while restoring its fiscal health and saving taxpayer dollars. GPO restructured its operations and laid out a Future Digital System that can organize, manage, and output authenticated content for any purpose. Eventually, all known Federal documents, both printed and digital, will be entered into the Future Digital System. GPO also used retirement incentive programs to cut its workforce by over 20 percent and save approximately $46 million in annual payroll costs.
Reducing Improper Payments at HUD
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pays $27 billion per year in rental housing assistance to provide 4.6 million low-income households with affordable housing.  The amount of assistance each household receives is based on income level. Previously, HUD had no way of verifying that reported income levels were accurate.  By implementing a new computer matching process to provide housing program administrators with access to household income information already maintained at other federal agencies, HUD has reduced improper rental housing assistance payments from $3.2 billion in 2000 to less than $1.3 billion in 2005.  This reduction enables HUD to provide assistance to an estimated 250,000 additional households for the same amount of money.
NASA Shared Services Center
NASA’s management used a “best value trade-off competition” to determine the most effective and efficient way to eliminate redundant systems and processes and improve support services. Previously, human resources, procurement, financial management, and information technology activities were carried out at ten different centers throughout the country. Through a competitive process, NASA identified the provider that could best help NASA achieve the successful consolidation of these activities into one shared services center. NASA projects that changes resulting from the competition will improve efficiency and reduce the cost of internal support operations by more than $40 million over 10 years.
Information Sharing in the National Intelligence Community
Sixteen Federal Government agencies collect and access intelligence information. To better coordinate the sharing of Top Secret (TS) information, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) launched a website, Intellipedia. All 16 agencies of the Intelligence Community can share and update data. By January 2007, just eight months after launch, Intellipedia had grown to more than 5,000 registered users and 60,000 pages on the TS network.
Record Low Error Rates at the Food Stamp Program
USDA’s Food Stamp Program is the cornerstone of our nation’s effort to ensure access to nutritious food for every household in America. However, the program’s history of accomplishment has often been coupled with a perception that the program wastes taxpayer dollars by giving benefits to ineligible people or providing benefits in the wrong amount. In recent years, USDA has continually worked to improve the program by (1) creating a rigorous performance measurement system that rewards states for good performance and sanctions those that exceed the national error rate two years in a row; (2) working with Congress to simplify program rules and thus make improper payments less likely, and (3) partnering with States to share best practices. As a result of USDA’s effort, 2005 was the program’s seventh consecutive year of improvement, representing a 45% reduction in the payment error rate. To place this improvement in a financial perspective, if the FY 1998 overpayment error rate of 7.6 percent had not decreased to 4.5 percent in FY 2005, nearly $900 million more in food stamp benefits would have been issued in error.