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Smart cost cutting through better technology

March 2, 2010 - 0 Comments

It should come as no surprise that cost cutting remains a major initiative for state and local governments. In this current economic situation, the need for social programs such as childcare assistance and unemployment benefits rises while available tax dollars decreases due to less income and sales tax revenue. Meaning, governments are being asked to do more with far less.

In a recent article published in Governing Magazine, Stephen Goldsmith, the former mayor of Indianapolis and current director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Harvard Kennedy School—discussed the ongoing fiscal challenges facing states and the steps being taken to address them.

One of the issues Mr. Goldsmith addresses is the false perception of frivolous government programs. According to his article, the presence of frivolous and wasteful programs is far less of an issue than the waste and inefficiencies within necessary programs. In an effort to reduce this waste, government organizations are looking to embrace new technologies such as electronic benefit transfer programs and plastic benefit cards to help run these programs more effectively and efficiently.

Although the use of technology to cut waste out of programs is an incredible way of controlling government spending and bringing the budget in line, there are a handful of other areas where new technologies could help save the government money. These technologies may not be targeted at social programs, but rather could yield significant savings in day-to-day government operations.

One of these technologies is video teleconferencing (VTC), which enables government employees to interact and have natural face-to-face conversations regardless of the distance separating them. When implemented across a government organization or agency, VTC can generate significant cost savings in many areas, including travel expenses, while enhancing collaboration via video instead of in person.

Travel isn’t the only area where VTC saves the government money, however. By implementing VTC technologies, government offices can easily embrace telework without a serious decrease in collaboration, production or communication. This means that offices can be closed an additional day every week, or some employees can be given the option of working from home, significantly decreasing the use and cost of office supplies and utilities. This can also decrease the amount of office space and real estate needed, which are major costs facing government organizations.

By looking internally at day-to-day operations and implementing cost-cutting technologies such as VTC, as well as implementing changes and technologies to cut down waste and inefficiency in social programs, state and local governments can make a serious dent in their budget woes. VTC technologies are breaking down the walls between government employees and enabling the government to operate more effectively and inexpensively. Now that’s a new way of governing.

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