Published July 28, 2009
WASHINGTON -- It's not real money as measured by the Washington adage of "$1 billion here and $1 billion there," but President Obama's Cabinet has just claimed to deliver on his demand for $100 million in budget savings.
The release came late Monday with little of the fanfare that accompanied Obama's promise to deliver the savings, which was greeted with considerable ridicule since it amounted to a pledge to cut about $1 for every $10,000 of the $1 trillion budget for agency budgets approved by Congress in March.
That represented the equivalent of cutting a foot-long submarine sandwich from the budget of a construction worker making $60,000 a year.
Obama himself announced the initiative after his first Cabinet meeting in April; the results were revealed in a blog entry Monday evening.
The tally is $102 million for 2009, with $165 million more in savings identified for 2010 and beyond.
The Agriculture Department's agency for animal and plant inspection canceled a meeting in Australia, while the Commerce Department scrapped $131,000 worth of unnecessary office renovations. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is turning over 120,000 temporary housing units called "Katrina cottages" to the General Services Administration for maintenance and disposal, saving $3.8 million in "operational savings."
Several agencies are making greater efforts to go "paperless" whenever possible, saving on copier costs. The Treasury Department will shred and recycle classified materials rather than burn them, saving $40,000 this year.
The Justice Department will save an estimated $4 million next year making travel arrangements online, rather than using travel agents. The Air Force will install 2,800 compact fluorescent light bulbs, reducing electricity costs by $36,000 a year.
In an example of sizable savings, $52 million, the Air Force will use commercial jet fuel plus additives instead of using JP-8, the standard fuel used by the military. Another $18 million would be saved by putting more soldiers on charter aircraft used to transport soldiers taking leave.