Image: Barack Obama, Nancy Fichtner
Susan Walsh  /  AP
President Barack Obama talks about SAVE Award winner Nancy Fichtner of Colorado, a Fiscal Program Support Clerk at the Department of Veterans Affairs, during a statement at the White House Monday.
updated 12/22/2009 12:29:25 AM ET 2009-12-22T05:29:25

President Barack Obama on Monday touted the federal government's efforts to become more efficient, highlighting a new report that shows billions of dollars in savings on contract costs.

The report by the Office of Management and Budget shows that agencies have identified more than $19 billion in contract savings for fiscal year 2010, which began Oct. 1. Obama said that puts the government on track to meet its goal of saving $40 billion annually by fiscal year 2011.

The administration has said the savings will come from terminating unnecessary contracts, ending an over-reliance on contractors and reducing the use of high-risk contracts. Federal spending on contracts has doubled since 2002, reaching $540 billion last year.

"After years of irresponsibility, we are once again taking responsibility for every dollar we spend the same way families do," Obama said at the White House. "These changes will save the American people billions of dollars and they'll help to put in place a government that's more efficient and effective."

Federal employees were asked how the government can do its job better or for less money. More than 38,000 suggestions were submitted during a three-week period, Obama said.

Obama met privately with Nancy Fichtner, a Veterans Affairs Department employee from Loma, Colo., who is the first winner of the government's SAVE, or Securing Americans Value and Efficiency award.

Fichtner suggested that veterans leaving VA hospitals be able to take the medicine they've been using home instead of it being thrown away when they're discharged.

Obama said Fichtner's and other suggestions were already being put into practice.

The president also announced a White House forum next month to seek similar ideas from the private sector.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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