11/29/2011 05:26 pm ET | Updated Jan 29, 2012

Oval Office Outs Overspending

November's "Five Fixes for Feds" Executive Order from the Prez made me smile and sigh. Telework gets a triple shot. First, agencies must cut travel costs. Plane tickets out, conference and video calls in. Did you know Uncle Sam's travel budget grew by 56 percent between 2001 and 2006? Second, the Federal government's supposed to cut the toes of his real estate footprint -- to the tune of $3.5 billion in savings. Did you know Uncle Sam owns more than 900,000 buildings? And, less limos for leaders -- agency execs are being asked to take the bus like the rest of us, or call it in. The Federal fleet of limos ballooned from 238 in 2008 to 412 in 2010.

But, the EO is not just about telework. There's a paper cut. Feds must print less -- and read more messages on screen. Agencies can reduce costs by $1 billion each year just by using less paper. It also pulls the plug on govies' gizmos -- laptops, mobile phones, and wireless connections.

Apparently the Department of Commerce plans to cut the wire on 2,600 wireless devices that haven't rung in three months. Sounds like we're making a meaningful cut -- but are these really the wireless connections left over from the 2010 census?

Whether donkey or elephant, it's difficult to argue with these common-sense changes. That said, a couple of questions. Why do we need an Executive Order to make these common-sense changes? How will Feds ensure that the clawing back off laptops, mobile phones, and connectivity doesn't compromise telework savings?

And last three questions. How will the Prez measure the impact of his EO? How will agency chiefs and Federal managers be held accountable for real savings? We need to put in some metrics to measure results. What about an agency scorecard?

I look forward to continuing discussion -- leave a comment below or email me at

Steve O'Keeffe is the founder and executive director of Telework Exchange and MeriTalk, an online community that combines professional networking and thought leadership to drive the government IT community dialogue. He can be reached at