The Washington Post

The federal government’s no-fly zone

A new bill introduced in the House would seriously curtail federal travel in the near future.

By fiscal 2013, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) proposes reducing travel budgets across the government by 50 percent of 2012 levels. By fiscal 2015, federal travel budgets for all agencies would be cut 75 percent of 2012 levels.

“[S]pending $15 billion a year on travel is a luxury that is both no longer necessary and no longer affordable,” Ross said during a floor statement.

Ross’s proposal comes three weeks after revelations of an $800,000 conference thrown by the General Services Administration in 2010. That conference included more than $340,000 in travel spending, according to figures obtained by the GSA inspector general.

Federal travel costs were under scrutiny long before the GSA conference scandal, however. The 2010 debt reduction commission suggested that agencies rely more on teleconferencing to contain travel costs, which had grown 56 percent between 2001 and 2006.

In November, President Obama issued an executive order that required federal agencies to decrease travel and conference spending. Obama advised that travel should only occur when a duty could not be performed in the office, such as diplomatic work or enforcement inspections.

In August, Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) co-sponsored a sweeping debt-reduction bill that proposed cutting federal travel spending by 75 percent. The bill was referred to the Homeland Security and Government affairs Committee.

Three bills introduced last week proposed slashing funding for government conferences.


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