Against a backdrop of massive debt, US President Barack Obama has signed an executive order putting an end to unnecessary federal government spending on giveaways such as t-shirts and key rings.
According to the White House, “nonessential items used for promotional items” like plaques, clothing, pens, and mugs, and “other unnecessary promotional items that agencies purchase” like water bottles and neckties came under the category of “swag.”
The swag ban is part of an executive order signed by the President signed Wednesday to cut waste and make government agencies more efficient.
While the White House declined to give more details about the “swag” and its corresponding costs, the executive order will also direct agencies to reduce the size of travel spending, cut back on cell phones and laptops issued to employees, cut down the fleet size of government vehicles and to cut down post electronic files online instead of printing.
The goal, Obama said, is to cut spending by 20 percent in areas covered by the order.
Among examples cited by the White House of cost-cutting already under way are the Internal Revenue Service’s plan to cut 27 percent of its travel costs by relying more on teleconferences and webinars and the Homeland Security Department’s decision to conduct annual audits to reduce the number of unused cell phones and air cards.
Wednesday’s orders would save $4 billion annually in administrative costs that would be put toward other agency operations, according to Kenneth Baer, the Office of Management and Budget communications director.
In conjunction with the “Campaign to Cut Waste,” the Federal government, the largest property owner in the United States, announced plans to deal with some 14,000 of its properties that sit unused and unneeded, costing taxpayers millions annually in operating and maintenance expenses. The move is expected to save the government $3.5 billion by the end of fiscal year 2012.
The executive order is the latest in a series of presidential measures Obama has adopted to improve America's fiscal position and in a bid to create jobs, after opposition in Congress stalled his $447 billion jobs plan.