While We Wait, White House Trims Some Waste

With the Super Committee deadline still two weeks away, President Obama seems to be unable to wait to get some savings on the board. Today, he signed an executive order directing agencies to reduce costs in five specified areas of their budget considered to include wasteful or unnecessary spending, to which they must make 20 percent reductions by FY 2013.

While the savings that will be achieved are a drop in the bucket towards solving our fiscal problems, the order sends the right signals and should be applauded. Making our government more efficient and better allocating resources are hugely important goals. The areas that the executive order targets are:  

  • Travel and conference-related spending
  • Duplicative or unnecessary IT devices issued to federal employees
  • Unnecessary printing
  • Motor vehicles
  • Items used for promotional purposes

Some of these items, such as reducing travel and printing costs, have appeared in many fiscal plans as small savings policies to reduce discretionary spending. They have also been popular targets in legislation, like the CUTS Act (printing, travel, and vehicle costs, among other things) and the STOP Act (legislative printing costs).

President Obama will need these savings to fit within the Budget Control Act caps for his FY 2013 budget request, so eliminating wasteful spending makes sense before getting to the meat of the cuts. In an era of limited resources, more efficient and effective use of spending is critical in order to make budgetary room for needed investments. Thus, with some of the waste being rooted out, the Administration will be busy hammering out the larger cuts with the agencies over the next few months.