Tech CEOs Offer Deficit-Busting Ideas - Page 2

Ann All

Reduce energy use. New building-management technologies could help the federal government cut energy costs in 1,100 data centers and 3.1 billion square feet of office space, according to the council's report. Advanced fleet-management systems could lower federal energy consumption by up to 20 percent by reducing the size of the PC fleet, among other things. Voice, video, document-sharing and collaboration tools could cut travel expenses by up to 20 percent a year. Total potential savings: $20 billion over 10 years. Again, virtualization and consolidation can yield energy savings. (I expect the federal government might even be able to shutter some of the existing data centers.)

Move to shared services for mission-support activities. Previous projects show how this can work. When the government consolidated 26 payroll systems to four, the Environmental Protection Agency reduced payroll costs from $270 to $90 per employee, saving $3.2 million a year, and the Department of Health and Human Services reduced costs from $259 to $90 per employee, saving $11 million a year. Likewise, when the government consolidated travel systems, the Department of Labor reduced its costs from $60 to $20 per travel voucher and reduced processing time from about seven to about three days. If the government could expand these kinds of shared-services programs, it could save $50 billion over the next decade.

Apply advanced business analytics to reduce improper payments. The federal government issues nearly $3 trillion annually in payments, including food stamps, Medicare payments and tax refunds. The Office of Management and Budget estimates improper payments cost the government $98 billion in 2009 ($54 billion in Medicaid and Medicare alone). Analytics could help the government better identify fraud, mistakes or shifts in demand, generating an incremental $200 billion over 10 years.

Reduce field operations footprint and move to electronic self-service. There are more than 10,000 federal government forms in 173 different agencies that could be automated to allow citizens and businesses to conduct their business with government online, according to the report. Reducing the citizen-related field operations of the federal government and automating the government's form processing could generate $50 billion in savings over 10 years. Similar efforts in Australia and Canada yielded annual savings of $765 million and $292 million, respectively. More self-service options should make it easier for more federal employees to telework, another council suggestion. As I've written before, the government hopes

Monetize the government's assets. Selling or leasing unused assets or facilities is among the suggestions offered in this category.The council estimates the government could save $150 billion over 10 years.

Better project management and real-time course correction. Introducing practices such as business process management and organizational change management could improve the success rate of government projects. The council apparently has the same difficulty estimating ROI for these kinds of initiatives as many companies do. It offers no projected savings for this category.

We've heard some of these suggestions before, of course. Closing some of the fed's data centers and using cloud computing technologies to centralize some IT services for federal agencies were As I've written before, to follow through on these kinds of ideas. Maybe that organizational change management will pay for itself, (and then some) after all.

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