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Federal workers vie to save the most money

By Charles Riley, staff reporter

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Last year, their boss issued a challenge: Give me your best ideas to save money.

Their boss is President Obama, and he has opened the final round of voting on his "SAVE Award" for federal employees. Designed to streamline government by eliminating waste, four finalists are now vying for a chance to meet the president and see their idea implemented.

Last year's winning idea resulted in a pilot program aimed at cutting down wasted medication within the Veterans Administration. At least 20 of last year's submissions ended up in the fiscal 2011 budget, according to an Office of Management and Budget official.

No matter how savvy the ideas, they represent mere drops in a rather large bucket. Cutting the deficit is no easy task for a nation that racked up a $1.29 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2010. An estimate on how the program's total savings wasn't immediately available.

Here are the 2010 finalists:

Paul Behe, a paralegal specialist for the Department of Homeland Security in Cleveland, wants the government to use the Internet to notify the public about property it has seized. Right now, it's done through newspaper advertising.

If Behe's idea wins, newspapers will suffer. The other three finalists want to put a dent into the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service.

Food inspector Marjorie Cook of Michigan wants express shipping for food containers to be a one-way ticket. There's no need to continue the current policy of express shipping the empty boxes back.

Trudy Givens of Wisconsin, a Bureau of Prisons employee, believes the government should stop the daily mailing of the Federal Register to 10,000 recipients. It's already available online.

And Thomas Koenning of Colorado, who works on mine safety, would like to have mine operators and contractors report coal production and worker hours online, instead of via old fashioned mail.

You can vote for your favorite idea at the White House websiteTo top of page

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