The General Services Administration has announced plans to form a new travel-advisory committee and freeze per diem travel reimbursement rates this year. 

The advisory committee, which the agency intends to fill with representatives of the travel industry, corporations and all levels of government, will provide advice and recommendations for for improving efficiency and effectiveness, reducing costs, and promoting sustainability, according to the GSA.

The agency described the formation of the committee as “another step in implementing transparent travel regulations and policies.”

As for per diem travel reimbursement rates, the GSA said the action will keep them at 2012 levels to save the government an estimated $20 million in avoided costs during fiscal year 2013.

The move supports an Office of Management and Budget memorandum last year that directed agencies to decrease all travel spending in 2013 by 30 percent compared to 2010.

“GSA is undergoing a rigorous review process to find ways in which we can streamline agency operations and save money across the government,” said GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini. ”By keeping per diem rates at current levels, we are supporting federal agencies in controlling costs and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used wisely.” 

The GSA became the subject of much criticism last year for its own travel practices. In April, former GSA chief Martha N. Johnson resigned after a scandal involving lavish spending by the agency at a conference off the Las Vegas Strip that featured a clown, a mind reader and a $31,208 reception.

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