OMB tells CFOs to run SAVE Award ideas by broader audience

Monday - 7/2/2012, 5:12pm EDT

The White House is using a restaurant-style rating system for the 2012 SAVE Award contest, and it wants agency chief financial officers to be the food critics.

The administration is asking federal employees to rank money-saving ideas with one, two or three stars — with three being the top-rated, most likely to save the government money.

"In addition to reviewing and rating each SAVE Award submission, CFOs should pay particular attention to those submissions that their agency ranks most favorably," wrote Danny Werfel, the controller of the Office of Management and Budget, in a June 27 memo to CFOs. "The MAX Community site will include a check-box to indicate that the 'Idea is Recommended' by the agency. Agencies should provide this designation to the best candidates for consideration of the SAVE Award. This designation should be limited to between five and 10 ideas per agency, depending on the size of the agency and the number of submissions. Before an agency indicates that a particular idea is recommended by checking this box, the CFO must confirm with internal agency programmatic, operations, communications and other stakeholders, as well as agency leadership, that all parties are comfortable with moving forward with the idea should it ultimately be selected as a finalist for the SAVE Award."

The administration will kick off the 2012 SAVE Award contest in a few weeks and provide agencies with a list of ideas in the next two months, Werfel said.

"To avoid repeating ideas, to the degree practical, agencies are encouraged to review recommended SAVE award submissions from prior years to determine whether analysis has already been done about the validity and merits of a particular idea," Werfel wrote. "These ratings and recommendations will serve as the starting point for a deliberative process to determine which submissions may be considered as finalists for the SAVE Award. Following submission of agency ratings of SAVE Award candidates, OMB staff will review the submissions and engage further with agencies as appropriate."

The 2012 guidance is different than the 2011 memo. Werfel is asking CFOs to work more closely with the program areas before finalizing their list of money saving ideas.

OMB also will issue a Budget Data Request (BDR) later this month, before the SAVE Award review process starts.

The document will include more information on the timeline for the SAVE Award, instructions for using the MAX Community site to review and rate submissions, additional background on the rating criteria and other pertinent information.

This is the fourth year of the SAVE Awards. Each of the last three winners presented their ideas to President Barack Obama. OMB also included the winning idea and others in the following year's budget request.

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