Blueprint for Stronger Service
USDA is faced today with an ever more uncertain Federal budget. In fact, the discretionary budget that funds USDA's operations is lower today than it was in Fiscal Year 2009. However, USDA has taken proactive steps in recent years to reduce spending, streamline operations and cut costs. These proactive steps have given us the tools to carry out our mission-critical work, while ensuring that USDA's millions of customers across rural America receive stronger service.
USDA's efforts have saved taxpayers $1.197 Billion in recent years.
In 2012, Secretary Vilsack launched the Blueprint for Stronger Service, directing USDA agencies to take steps to cut costs and modernize operations. As a result, we have carried out workforce reductions, closed offices and laboratories, implemented modern cloud computing efforts to cut costs, and much more.
But we know that there is more to be done. USDA continues looking for ways to improve, innovate and modernize. We believe there is additional opportunity to manage budget cuts proactively and effectively, while providing rural America with modern and efficient service.
These efforts have provided targeted, common-sense solutions to save taxpayer dollars. For example:
USDA has saved money through better management of our buildings and facilities.
By ending planned or on-going construction projects, and getting rid of property that's underutilized or no longer necessary, we have saved $259 million.
We've achieved $91 million in efficiencies by closing more than 250 domestic and international USDA offices, labs, and facilities.
We've implemented energy savings practices and worked with utility companies to reduce expenditures by $6.5 million.
And here in Washington, several USDA agencies have consolidated their locations from seven leased offices to a single facility - achieving more than $13.2 million in efficiencies.
We've improved our procurement - streamlining and improving how we buy the things we need.
USDA is a big Department with significant buying power. By taking better steps to buy goods and services at the Department level (as opposed to individual areas or agencies) through strategic sourcing, along with our efforts to centralize our purchasing contracts, USDA has achieved $154 million in efficiencies.
We've improved our oversight of service contracts, including better acquisition management and data analysis - which will enable another $60 million in savings.
And we have put an end to the purchase of unnecessary promotional items. This will save taxpayers more than $1.8 million a year.
We have enhanced our information technology structure, and streamlined IT services.
USDA will achieve more than $135.3 million in efficiencies by updating the agreements we have for IT support and services, centralizing our data servers, consolidating cell phone services and ensuring that we only buy necessary IT equipment to get the job done.
We have taken steps to restructure USDA's workforce:
USDA restructured its workforce through targeted use of Early Retirement and Voluntary Separation authorities. Through these efforts, USDA achieved more than $142.8 million in savings.
Through the increase of telework, the Department has also realized $10 million of cost avoidance in transit subsidies to employees. By having employees work from home more often, we are recognizing not only increased productivity, but also greater operating efficiencies and cost reductions.
Finally, we've taken a hard look at our business process - and made some common-sense changes that will save money.
We've cut back on travel to be sure that employees are only on the road when necessary to get mission-critical work done; and by improving our processes for booking travel. These efforts have provided more than $241.5 million in efficiencies.
By increasing the use of online publications, reducing the number of publication subscriptions, and centralizing our printing activities, we've saved more than $23.9 million.
And by turning to USDA's agencies and directing them to find efficiencies related to the unique work they do, we've improved management processes and established more than $57 million in savings. These efforts have included eliminating redundant functions, establishing hiring hubs, and implementing Lean Six Sigma and other management improvement techniques to streamline agency processes.
2012 Announcement of the Blueprint for Stronger Service
- Press Release: Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Blueprint for Stronger Service to Increase Efficiency in USDA Operations (January 9, 2012)
- Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services (PDF, 572KB)
- Food Safety (PDF, 538KB)
- Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (PDF, 590KB)
- Marketing and Regulatory Programs (PDF, 547KB)
- Natural Resources and the Environment (PDF, 542KB)
- Rural Development (PDF, 541KB)
- Research, Education and Economics (PDF, 524KB)
- Press Release: USDA Takes Next Step to Modernize Department as Part of Blueprint for Stronger Service (February 27, 2012)
- Blueprint for Stronger Service (USDA Blog)
- USDA Story Exchange (eAuthentication login required)
- Blueprint for Stronger Service Connect Community (eAuthentication login required).