December 11 CC Eileen Hearty

by Seamus Dunne

In 2009 President Obama initiated a program called the SAVE Award, (Securing Americans Value and Efficiency). The premise of the program was to seek ideas from frontline Federal Employees to make government more effective and efficient and to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. In just 3 weeks, OMB (Office of Management and Budget) received tens of thousands of ideas on how to make government more effective and efficient.
Over the past two years, federal employees have submitted more than 56,000 cost-cutting ideas through the SAVE Award. Dozens of the most promising ideas have been included in the President’s Budget, specifically in the Terminations, Reduction and Savings volume. Each year OMB narrows the best ideas to a “final four.” Federal employees and the American people vote online to choose the winner. The winner goes to Washington to present their idea to the President. These ideas have to be practical, show significant cost reductions and of course must be cost effective to implement.
This year former Denver Gaels Ladies footballer Eileen Hearty from Denver, daughter of Jim and Betty Hearty who hail from County Armagh, Ireland and New York, was one of the final 4 selected by the OMB out of over 20,000 ideas submitted. Eileen is a Project Manager and works for HUD (Housing and Urban Development) at their Denver Multi-family Hub. Part of the work that Eileen’s office does is to oversee and regularly inspect properties that the federal government leases from private individuals for programs such as Section Eight Housing. This work is subcontracted out from the Denver HUD office to companies which inspect properties in North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. These properties are graded as being Superior, Above Average, Satisfactory, Below Average and Unsatisfactory. Each year every such property is inspected and graded.
Eileen’s idea is to reward those properties with a consistently superior or above average rating by reducing the yearly inspections to every three years in the case of Superior properties, and every two years in the case of Above Average properties. If a property gets a lower grade it would then revert back to yearly inspections and as such the standard would be maintained. This in turn would significantly reduce costs to the Federal Government in Travel, Hotels and Man Hours related to inspections and is relatively simple and cost effective to implement. It also allows HUD to focus on those properties which regularly fall below satisfactory ratings and thus improve the overall condition of properties that are used for such programs as section eight. This would make Eileen’s department more efficient, and cost effective. How many times have you heard that about a government entity?
Eileen got to have a video conference with the Director of OMB and the 3 other finalists during which President Obama made a personal surprise visit and thanked each of them personally for their contribution. Eileen’s idea was not the overall winner but as one of the final 4 out of 20,000 submitted, it will be implemented. It now goes forward to the Federal Register and will be open for public review where anyone can view and comment on it.
This is a wonderful achievement by Eileen and she has the admiration of the Irish American community in Colorado and of course the thanks of the American Taxpayers as a whole for her cost saving idea.

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