Value for taxpayers on Labor Day

As we celebrate the 125th Labor Day, the Labor Department is keeping American workers safe; providing employment and training opportunities for jobseekers; and collecting, analyzing, and reporting economic data. We work every day in support of the dignity associated with every job. These are vital services and there is a dedicated group of professionals in the Offices of Information Technology, Human Resources, Contracting, Security, Facilities, and Budget and Performance that ensure DOL agencies can focus their expertise on the mission.

As the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (ASAM), I have the privilege of working with these public servants every day. Since 2017, we have taken the commonsense approach of running the department the same way Americans run their own household or a small business: getting the most value for your dollar. That approach to management aligns with the key drivers of the President’s Management Agenda — a vision for making government work for you.

In the same manner that the Employee Benefits Security Administration is making it easier for small businesses to pool their resources together through Association Retirement Plans, ASAM is in the final stages of a two-year effort to implement a Shared Services model that pools resources in the areas of IT, human resources, procurement and personnel security. This will free DOL’s agencies from administrative tasks and ensure that they direct their resources on their core missions and will reap millions in cost savings over the next decade.

In the same way the Mine Safety and Health Administration moved from pen and paper to tablet technology, ASAM is transitioning from legacy IT systems, and focusing on IT modernization has saved the Department approximately $70 million in taxpayer dollars.

In the same mode as the workforce development programs led by the Employment and Training administration, ASAM has launched LeadershipDevelopment@Labor, a new professional development course that requires DOL managers and supervisors to attain continuing education credits annually. This course ensures that our managers understand how to motivate staff and oversee performance to get the most out of our most important resource, our employees.

Yet some things we do are just commonsense, good government.

We have reduced our real estate footprint by 323,523 square feet since FY 2015. In FY 2018, this accounted for a net reduction of $2.8 million in rent costs.

We have moved to central leasing of DOL’s 16,000 laptops and tablets. This not only saves $1.6 million annually through volume purchasing, but also ensures all DOL employees have productivity tools like digital signing, Office 2016 and OneDrive. Also it reduces the department’s cyber-risk, allows for better continuity planning, and allowed the department to move our IT staff from low-value to high-value work.

We have launched a common IT platform for all new DOL case management and data analytics systems. This is leading to interoperability between systems and standardizing the ways in which we collect and share data. For example, utilizing DOL’s IT platform, within the next few months, we will make temporary worker labor certification process that spans across DOL and DHS completely electronic. This will eliminate the need to print labor certifications for employers, making it faster for them, and save the Department $1 million annually.

The last two fiscal years accounted for the highest rates of procurement to small business in DOL’s history. Nearly 40% of DOL’s contracts were awarded to small businesses over those two years, more than $1.5 billion, including awards to small disadvantaged businesses, women-owned businesses, and disabled veteran-owned businesses.

DOL maximized its resources in fiscal 2018 by exceeding goals for government-wide best procurement practices and DOL is on track to exceed these goals again in fiscal 2019.

Public Service means using the public’s resources wisely and efficiently. Through cost savings, streamlining bureaucracy, and standardizing the way we do business, we continue to innovate and modernize the Labor Department so our resources can be focused on the good work for the American workforce. With the President’s vision as a roadmap, we find new ways every day to deliver for DOL agencies and our most important customers, the American people.

Bryan Slater is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Office of Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor.