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Federal Agencies, Departments Turn to ‘Tight-sizing’ to Save Costs

Image: Tom Oliveira

It’s no secret that federal agencies and departments are faced with tightening bottom lines. But what happens when, in this age of scaleback, a division or department is actually faced with staff increases?

The answer, as Federal Times reports, is “tight-sizing.” It’s not so much that agencies are cutting back on staff, but that their fitting more of them into the same or shrinking physical quarters.

For example, at the Treasury Department, the average space per person decreased from 191 square feet to 167, which meant the department saved an nearly $2 million in estimated additional leased space costs.

However, it’s often a tough sell to employees who think the size of the workspace denotes the importance of the job, Federal Times reports.

With tight-sizing efforts, such as “hoteling,” which allows employees to reserve cubicles on a daily basis and smaller “touch-down spaces,” for workers putting in a part-time day at the office, it’s clear the office cubicle is no longer king.

There’s also congressional movement on filling the same amount of space with more federal workers.

Chairman of the House public buildings subcommittee Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) told Federal Times the tight-sizing efforts could save federal agencies “tremendous” amounts of money.

Gavin Bloch, the chief asset officer at the General Services Administration, told Federal Times, taking down cubicle walls is only half the battle; the overall culture must be changed as well, he said.

And while employees might grumble, Bloch said making more efficient use of space could help agencies continue to execute on their core missions even while facing austere budgets.

“I would rather give up some of the space I currently use than my job,” he said.

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