Another Simple Way to Cut IT Costs, This Time from the Feds

Ann All

Yesterday I sung the praises of looking for simple ways to cut IT costs and offered the example of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay switching the default font on its e-mail system from Arial to Century Gothic, a move the school's director of computing says will save money on printing costs because the new font will require 30 percent less ink than the previous one.


In that spirit, I'm sharing another idea being adopted by some government agencies: making electronic payroll statements the default option (while giving employees the option to choose paper statements). As Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag writes on the OMB blog, the suggestion was submitted for the inaugural President's SAVE Award, an annual contest in which federal employees suggest ideas to save taxpayers money and boost government efficiency. He writes:


Many SAVE Award entries we received included concerns from employees regarding the costs associated with paper pay stubs. The basic costs of printing, shipping and distributing these pages adds up quickly.


While federal employees can opt for an electronic option (and 64 percent of them do so), it's not currently the default. OMB identified the National Finance Center, with just 30 percent of employees opting for e-statements, as the worst performer and worked with NFC to change its default setting to e-statement. According to Orszag, changing the setting will save approximately $4 million. He writes:


This is a small change, but a powerful example of how federal employees can use their experience and unique knowledge to streamline what works in the federal government and end what doesn't - saving taxpayer dollars and improving performance.


It's part of an ongoing effort to collect ideas for improvement from government employees. I've written about the welcome turn of events in which government IT officials are looking to their private-sector counterparts for ideas to modernize government tech. Sounds like government may be leading on collecting ideas from its employees, a strategy that would probably also work well at private companies.

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