Californians might have felt a sense of déjà vu Wednesday as President Barack Obama ordered cutbacks on federal workers' cellphones, travel and vehicle fleet, plus as a ban on taxpayer-funded swag - all moves that Gov. Jerry Brown made earlier this year.

"President Obama knows a good idea when he sees one," said Brown spokesman Gil Duran. "We're glad to see that the federal government, like the state of California, is cutting waste and saving taxpayer dollars wherever possible."

An Obama administration official, however, said the president's executive order builds upon the federal budget's "administrative efficiency initiative," which reduced the current fiscal year's funding in certain categories by 10 percent -- $2.1 billion -- below 2010's levels. Wednesday's order reduces that spending in the next fiscal year by 20 percent below 2010 levels.

Obama's order directs federal agencies to reduce spending on travel; limits the number of information technology devices -- cellphones, smartphones, tablets, laptops and so on -- issued to individual employees; stops unnecessary printing of documents that can be posted online; shrinks the executive fleet of the federal government; and stops using taxpayer dollars to buy swag -- the plaques, clothing, and other unnecessary promotional items that agencies purchase.

The administration estimates that spending in areas covered by the order will be reduced by 20 percent, saving billions.


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Brown issued executive orders in January cutting back on state workers' cellphones and reducing the state's vehicle fleet; a directive in February forbidding use of public money to buy promotional swag; and an executive order in April restricting state workers' travel. He also issued an executive order in February to freeze most state hiring.

The Obama administration said Wednesday's order is part of its "Campaign to Cut Waste," for which Vice President Joe Biden convened a September meeting that saw Cabinet members identify wasteful or inefficient spending. Wednesday's executive order "builds on that work," according to a White House statement.

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