Biologist could win visit with Obama

Bend man finalist for national, federal cost-cutting award

By Dylan J. Darling / The Bulletin / @DylanJDarling


Published Dec 19, 2013 at 12:01AM / Updated Dec 19, 2013 at 06:09AM

To vote

Voting for the president’s Securing Americans Value and Efficiency Award for 2013 is open until 9 a.m. Friday. A Bend biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is among the four finalists for the national award. The winner is determined by popular online vote. To vote, go to www.whitehouse.gov/save-award.

A Bend biologist is one of four federal employees who has a chance of winning an award and meeting President Barack Obama as part of the prize.

“It’s a pretty amazing opportunity,” said Dirk Renner, a fish and wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bend.

Renner is one of four finalists for the president’s Securing Americans Value and Efficiency Award. The award honors a federal employee who came up with an idea to save the government time or money. A vote at the White House’s website will determine the winner. The deadline to vote is 9 a.m. Friday.

Upon hearing of Renner being a finalist for the award, his boss, Craig Rowland, conservation partnerships coordinator for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Portland, sent out a note to agency employees around the region asking them to vote.

“Obviously, we are very proud of Dirk for making this recommendation,” he said.

Last summer, Renner filled out an online application for the award, laying out how he thought the government could save time and money by allowing certifications to be recognized by more than one agency. A former U.S. Forest Service worker, Renner learned his Forest Service all-terrain vehicle training was not transferable to the Fish and Wildlife Service when he moved to his new job in 2009.

“This change would save time and reduce duplicate training and travel costs for employees across the government,” according to the description of Renner’s idea on the White House website.

“I kind of totally forgot about it until (last) Friday when I heard that I had been selected as one of the finalists,” said Renner, whose work is focused on habitat restoration projects.

The ideas of the other finalists are creating an online tracking system for prescriptions mailed to veterans, sending passport notifications by email rather than mail first and collecting custom fines and penalties online.

Obama gave out the first SAVE Award in 2009, and the program is now in its fifth year, according to the White House website. Federal employees have used the program to send in tens of thousands of ideas to cut costs.

Renner said he has campaigned mildly for the award, mainly asking friends through social networks to vote for him.

—Reporter: 541-617-7812; ddarling@bendbulletin.com.