Top federal bureaucrats who have been driven to work by government chauffeurs may be looking for other ways to commute in the new year.
The General Accounting Office announced in 1983 that when the 99th Congress convenes this year, the GAO would begin holding federal officials accountable to a 1940s law limiting chauffeur service.
Under the law, only the president and a few other officials, including certain diplomatic personnel, are granted the privilege of chauffeur service.
The law does not include the vice president on the list of officials entitled to be driven to work at government expense.
Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.) said Tuesday that the law should be changed to include the vice president and possibly several other officials. But he said the current law should be observed until it is changed.
Proxmire said that his office determined there were 190 "pampered officials . . . receiving such coddling" in 1982, up from 160 in 1977. "At an annual cost of $32,000 for each chauffeured official, this taxi meter rang up a bill of $3.4 million for the taxpayers in 1982 alone," he said.
"A bevy of agency officials" have asked Office of Management and Budget Director David A. Stockman to be exempt from the GAO ruling, Proxmire said. These officials also want the administration to seek legislation that would preserve their limousine service.
Proxmire said he will send letters this week to the heads of every agency, asking them to explain how they plan to comply with the GAO's 1983 ruling.
The 1982 survey showed that officials at the Defense Department were most inclined to use government limousines. Of the 190 people throughout the government with door-to-door chauffeur service, 60 were at the Pentagon, though 36 of them said they use the service only occasionally.
The Transportation and State departments ranked second and third in the 1982 survey.