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Report: Agencies Looking Inward for Efficiencies

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In the search to squeeze more savings out of the federal government, agencies are increasingly looking inward.

But are they successful in the search for efficiencies?

A new report by MeriTalk, the government-IT network, and software provider SAS details the responses of 150 federal officials — financial, operational and performance managers from across the federal sector — to identify agency-level efficiency trends and best practices.

Taking Action

Taxing Times: The Federal Efficiency Opportunity presents the conundrum facing agencies in their cost-saving quests: Less than half of respondents said they have adequate funding to carry out core objectives, but an overwhelming majority said their agency has no formal plan to identify spending efficiencies.

However, even in the absence of formalized plans, managers are taking action. According to the research, 47 percent of respondents said they have conducted data analyses to identify areas for efficiency and cost-savings.

In terms of the areas most ripe for squeezing existing costs, managers said they first turn to operational costs. However, the research indicates there are also other areas, including acquisition and sourcing as well as enterprise IT architecture and governance processes.

DoD vs. Civilian Agencies

As it turns out, agency cost savings also depend on the agency.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates embarked on a high-profile series of efficiency initiatives last year. His goal was to cut overhead bureaucratic costs and repurpose the savings.

So it’s no surprise the MeriTalk report found that DoD personnel  reported conducting more analysis about cost-savings than civilian agency counterparts and were also optimistic their agency could reduce spending and maintain the same service levels.

Remedies

In terms of what would help agencies make good on their efficiency efforts, federal professionals and managers said “more granular” project-management information and “clear executive direction” would improve their goals. Other remedies included more local control as opposed to “sweeping” agencywide provisos and combating duplicative and redundant efforts across the government.

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