How To Cut The Federal Budget at a Government Agency by Lurita Alexis Doan
Lurita Alexis Doan
General Services Administration Why is Congressman Waxman so unhappy with Lurita Alexis Doan, head of GSA?
Is it contracts, campaignings, competence?
Your Business Blogger recently sat down with Lurita Doan. She was really quite at home with the intense blood sport that passes for politics. (She’s from Louisiana.) (And works academia.) We discussed her management style and her goals in government.
“The agency oversees nearly $66 billion in federal spending — more than a quarter of the government’s procurement dollars. It has 12,300 employees who are spread out in offices around the country.
So what do GSA employees do with all that money? The GSA is the world’s largest landlord with more than 8,300 government-owned or leased buildings. It is responsible for a fleet of 170,000 vehicles, making it the world’s largest purchaser of new cars. The computer infrastructure it oversees is valued at more than $100 million. The agency is the world’s largest credit card service, and believe it or not, the world’s largest conservator of art.”
Jefferson Smith in Frank Capra’s
1939 film classic
Mr. Smith Goes to WashingtonLurita Doan came to Washington, DC to serve out of passion for her country. But unlike Jimmie Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mrs. Doan came with a plan.
Lurita Doan placed herself in the Waxman cross-hairs by breaking rice bowls in the bowels of government.
So Chairman Waxman takes a day off from surrendering to the jihadists in Iraq to hold hearings. He gets a three-fer:
1) Ignore the War on Islamofascists
2) Berate a cost cutting manager, and
3) Smear Karl Rove
Ignore, Berate, Smear. Not a bad day for Democrats.
Following is Doan’s memo on How to Cut the Federal Budget at a Government Agency.
Your Business Blogger could have used such a guideline during my tour of duty in government and my feeble attempts to rein in costs to save tax payer dollars (the goal of most Republicans).
The government, the country needs more Lurita Doans. And fewer Henry Waxmans.
HOW TO CUT THE FEDERAL BUDGET AT A GOVERNMENT AGENCY
BASIC GROUND RULES
1. Make a decision not to cut salaries or benefits (PC&B) if a t all possible. The agency should make the commitment to value the skill sets and labor of its employees as its most valuable resource. This kind of cut should be considered only as a last measure, after all other options are exhausted and that commitment and understanding must be shared with the Agency’s employees, so that they know their personal lives are not at risk. This allows employees to focus on the true goal which is to cut the budget thereby improving efficiency and value to the American taxpayer.
2. Budget cuts should be employee driven in order to release the entrepreneurial energies of the employees who will find better ways to do the same things.
3. Each office within the Agency is accountable for achieving the desired cuts. At GSA, we proposed a 9% cut, but targeted non-performing programs.
4. Additional targets were : unnecessary travel, overseas travel except as it directly related to job performance, promotions above GS-15, hiring of GS-15 or higher, volume travel to conferences—often times limiting the number of attendees at conferences, consolidated purchasing[strategic sourcing]/
5. Each office and each employee at GSA was told that there were “no sacred cows.”
6. Each office was given a timeline / timeframe in which to provide the CFO the targeted cuts.
7. The Budget Process at GSA was collaborative, but by no means consensus driven.
8. I asked that we base the budget cuts on non-performing programs…
…Ideally, each office was to identify the non-performing programs it would cut, or trim back to achieve the desired budget cuts. However, I also let all office heads know that if the Office within GSA could not identify any specific non-performing or poorly performing programs, then the CFO and I would make the decision.
STEP – BY – STEP.
9. Print out the budget detail for the individual offices and deliver to the Office Head. In addition, break out all departments under the office and identify its portion of the budget, both the actual dollars and categories, as well as what percentage of the Office budget it comprises as well as what percentage of the Agency budget it comprises. [I mainly did this because I wanted each division to understand that it was part of a larger whole, regardless of how small its budget was, and at the same time, for the larger departments, for them to understand that the Agency was counting on them to use the funding wisely since others clearly had to do without in order for them to be the recipients of the larger amounts of funding).
10. I asked that all divisions identify all government contractors performing work/projects for GSA. That list was provided to all office heads to assist them in identifying non-performing programs.
11. Offices should rank the performance of all contractor programs. My thought was that the lowest, most poorly performing program(s) would be cut.
12. If the contractor had not received a performance rating, then at least the Contracting Officer and the Program Manager knew that such a performance evaluation process needed to be instituted.
13. In one or two cases, where there seemed to be differing opinions of whether there was utility on the work of a contractor or value in a specific project, employees utilizing the program were queried and the contractor were asked to come in and show that there was some utility to their effort. If they were unable to provide a product/service with a sufficient rating level, or a substantial indication of product achievement, then the program would be considered non-performing and eligible for the chopping block.
14. The goal was to identify more programs / funding than that which was required to allow for agency flexibility and also to form the basic for a multi-year effort of budget cutting. In all, at GSA, we identified approximately $2.832Billion in proposed cuts, of which we took approximately 37% to implement, but the remaining programs form the basis of the next year’s proposed cuts. However, in the next year there may be new programs identified.
15. Two divisions, rather than having cuts, were identified as having been starved of resources that potentially jeopardized successfully achieving their departmental goals. These were not required to have cuts, and additional funding was planned for upcoming year.
16. Administrator led by example by returning 37% of the Administrator’s discretionary budget back to the Working Capital Fund to be used for the next fiscal year.
17. Strategic Sourcing was utilized to cut overhead costs: Consolidating the leasing of all Agency photocopiers, consolidating outside vendor printing costs.
18. Strategic Sourcing was utilized in IT support and GSA decided to consolidate over 100 contracts providing different services and goods into a single, agency wide support contract awarded to a Service-disabled veteran, 8(a) disadvantaged business company.
19. Consolidating transportation costs among senior management. For example, rather than taking taxis or driving, paying parking ,etc and billing to agency for travel around metro DC area, all senior management has access to Administrator’s driver and vehicle for transportation since this is a fixed Agency cost, paid from Administrator’s budget.