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2013 SAVE Award finalists announced

By SEAN REILLY Staff writer
Posted: Tuesday Dec 17, 2013


Ideas for improving the efficiency of Veterans Affairs Department prescription tracking, the State Department's handling of passport applications and government training certifications are among the four finalists for the 2013 SAVE Award. The winner will be selected by an online vote at the White House website, http://www.whitehouse.gov/save-award, Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell wrote Monday in an official blog post.

Launched by the Obama administration four years ago, the SAVE [Securing Americans Value and Efficiency] Award aims to highlight federal workers' proposals for getting taxpayers a better return on their money. As in the past, the winner will have the chance to meet with President Obama in the Oval Office. The finalists, as described by Burwell, are:

? Buyar Hayrula, who wants Customs and Border Protection officers and other employees to be able to collect payments via credit card at land ports of entry into the United States. Currently, payment requests are often sent by mail when a cashier is not on hand, Burwell wrote, adding that automating the payment process with a secure website would boost revenue collections.

? Patrick Mindiola, who suggested that the State Department initially follow up with requests for added information on passport applications by email instead of regular mail. State sends thousands of such information request letters, Burwell said. Under Mindiola's proposal, mail notices would be used only when an email bounces back, the application lacks an email address or no response is received.

? Dirk Renner, for proposing that agencies allow comparable employee training certifications to be transferred. Renner advanced the idea after recently discovering that his U.S. Forest Service all-terrain vehicle certification isn't valid for his current job at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

? Kenneth Siehr for his recommendation that the Veterans Affairs Department allow online tracking of mail prescription deliveries rather than requiring veterans to call their local VA medical center to find out where their medications are. The switch would save pharmacy staff time and improve customer service by using the Veterans Health Administration's Web-based portal, MyHealtheVet, Burwell said.

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