November 9th, 2011
10:01 AM ET
As Americans continue to struggle with their personal budgets in a fragile economy, President Obama is taking steps Wednesday to cut billions of dollars in what the White House terms wasteful spending in the federal budget. Targeting areas such as government travel, the doling out of smart phones and laptops to government workers and limiting who gets a free car for official duties, the plan builds on the Campaign to Cut Waste program which the administration says has already saved $8.5 billion. An administration official tells CNN the new cuts could save billions more.
Wednesday the president will sign an executive order, once again bypassing Congress, to expand an already existing administration program to cut waste and promote efficient spending across the federal government according to an official release from the White House.
The latest plan aims to cut spending by 20% on travel, technology and federal vehicles. The administration is directing agencies to cut back on travel and conference-related spending and instead use video conferences and webinars.
For instance the administration says NASA has cut its travel budget $17 million in 2012 by cutting back on the number of people it sends to conferences and even having employees share rental cars on trips.
The government will also be taking a close look at who gets those coveted technology toys. Smart phones, I-Pads and laptops will all come under scrutiny.
The White House says agencies like the Department of Commerce have already cut back here, saving $3 million this year by just disconnecting 2,648 wireless lines that hadn't been used in the past 3 months. Turns out many of those phones had been given to people who retired or quit their jobs and the accounts had never been turned off.
And all those chauffeured official vehicles cruising the streets of DC—no more! The administration says it costs $9 million a year for all ofWashington's official cars. Agencies will be tasked to cut back on this perk too.
The government will also cut back on wasteful printing and instead use email or post items on line. Finally don't look for those free mugs with your favorite agency logo anymore. Agencies are being told to "avoid purchasing goods that are frivolous or unnecessary". The edict: no more clothing items (t-shirts, hats), mugs and "non-work related gadgets" for promotional purposes.
While the administration is cutting costs the savings won’t go toward cutting the debt or deficit.
All the savings will be reinvested.
“The billions that is no longer spent on unnecessary travel, printing, IT devices, or other extraneous items – will allow us to focus our resources on the things that really matter, like supporting veterans and our armed forces, and investing in our nation’s infrastructure to help grow the economy,” an administration official told CNN.
Bottom line– cut the swag!