GSA offers tips for trimming fat from agency budgets

Thursday - 12/1/2011, 8:50pm EST

Steve Kempf, Commissioner, Federal Acquisition Service,

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By Jack Moore
Federal News Radio

The clock is ticking away on a mandate for agencies to submit plans to the Office of Management and Budget for slashing inefficient spending.

Last month, President Barack Obama issued an executive order directing agencies cut spending on travel, devices — such as smartphones, laptops and tablets — and, even, unnecessary promotional items, known as swag, by a combined 20 percent.

Agencies have until Dec. 23 to submit their plans.

Steve Kempf, Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service, joined In Depth with Francis Rose to discuss ways agencies could meet their goals.

One of the areas targeted for savings is agencies' travel budgets.

Kempf said there are number of options for agencies looking to use their travel dollars "more wisely."

For example, he cited FedRooms.com, the government-sponsored hotel program, which provides cheaper rates.

Another option is telepresence video conferencing solutions. There are 15 telepresence centers in GSA buildings around the country that can leased out by the hour.

"It saves a lot of time and a lot of money," he said. "Instead of sending people on to a plane and putting them up in a hotel room and (for) all of the time and costs to send people around for a two-hour meeting ... You could just use telepresence to get the job done."

IT devices were also singled out for the budget axe in the presidential order. But even before the executive order, GSA had been fielding many calls from agencies about better device buying, Kempf acknowledged. He listed the recently released wireless strategic sourcing initiative, which covers both devices and plans.

Ultimately, Kempf said, GSA can act as a guide for other agencies looking to trim the fat from their budgets.

"Come look at GSA and see how we can help you deliver on this sort of thing," he said. "We have put in place a lot options that are available to our customers. Many of them don't take a lot of money or time to implement ... And we've tried to make these really easy to use. That's the message."

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