B-198298(1), MAY 19, 1980

B-198298(1): May 19, 1980

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AN EXEMPTION FROM OUR REGULATIONS IN 4 CFR 52.3(A) FOR 1 YEAR IS AUTHORIZED SO THAT YOU MAY TEST THE USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS. THE EVALUATION CRITERIA YOU WILL USE AND THE MANNER IN WHICH YOU INTEND TO PAY FOR THE TRANSPORTATION. WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT YOU SHOULD ADVISE INTERESTED TRAVEL AGENTS EITHER IN THE SOLICITATION OR BY OTHER MEANS THAT THE AIRLINES ARE PROHIBITED FROM PAYING COMMISSIONS TO TRAVEL AGENTS FOR GOVERNMENT AIR TRAVEL UNDER AN AIR TRAFFIC CONFERENCE AGREEMENT RESOLUTION FILED WITH THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD. WILL CONTRIBUTE SIGNIFICANTLY TO THE CURRENT DEBATE REGARDING THE PROPOSED USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS FOR OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT TRAVEL. IS FURNISHED FOR YOUR INFORMATION.

B-198298(1), MAY 19, 1980

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

ROGER B. FELDMAN, DEPARTMENT OF STATE:

IN A LETTER DATED MARCH 25, 1980, YOU REQUESTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR CIRCULAR LETTER, DATED AUGUST 20, 1979, AN EXEMPTION FROM OUR REGULATIONS CONTAINED IN 4 CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS (CFR) 52.3(A) (1980), WHICH RESTRICTS USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS TO PROCURE OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT TRAVEL. YOU SUBMITTED A PROPOSAL FOR THE USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS BY THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE DESIGNED TO TEST WHETHER THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL CAN ACHIEVE SAVINGS AND EFFICIENCIES BY USING TRAVEL AGENTS.

BASED ON OUR REVIEW, WE BELIEVE THAT YOUR PROPOSAL COMPLIES GENERALLY WITH THE REQUIREMENTS SET FORTH IN THE CIRCULAR LETTER AND, THEREFORE, AN EXEMPTION FROM OUR REGULATIONS IN 4 CFR 52.3(A) FOR 1 YEAR IS AUTHORIZED SO THAT YOU MAY TEST THE USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS. ALTHOUGH YOUR REQUEST DID NOT STATE THE LENGTH OF TIME YOU EXPECT TO TEST YOUR PROPOSAL, WE BELIEVE THAT OUR AUTHORIZATION OF THE TEST FOR 1 YEAR PROVIDES AN ADEQUATE OPPORTUNITY TO PROPERLY EVALUATE THE MERITS OF YOUR PROGRAM.

HOWEVER, THE GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (GSA) HAS REQUESTED, IN CONNECTION WITH ITS AUDIT RESPONSIBILITIES, SEE 49 U.S.C. 66(A) AND 41 CFR 101-41.000 ET SEQ., THE OPPORTUNITY TO REVIEW, PRIOR TO IMPLEMENTATION OF YOUR PROPOSAL, YOUR METHOD OF SELECTING A TRAVEL AGENT, THE EVALUATION CRITERIA YOU WILL USE AND THE MANNER IN WHICH YOU INTEND TO PAY FOR THE TRANSPORTATION, WHETHER BY USE OF GOVERNMENT TRANSPORTATION REQUESTS, CASH OR OTHER MEANS (SEE LETTER ENCLOSED). WE AGREE THAT THIS SHOULD BE DONE AND THEREFORE REQUEST THAT YOU CONSULT WITH GSA REGARDING THESE MATTERS.

WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT YOU SHOULD ADVISE INTERESTED TRAVEL AGENTS EITHER IN THE SOLICITATION OR BY OTHER MEANS THAT THE AIRLINES ARE PROHIBITED FROM PAYING COMMISSIONS TO TRAVEL AGENTS FOR GOVERNMENT AIR TRAVEL UNDER AN AIR TRAFFIC CONFERENCE AGREEMENT RESOLUTION FILED WITH THE CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD.

WE EXPECT THAT INFORMATION YOU GENERATE BY INDICATING WITHIN THE PARAMETERS OF THIS LIMITED TEST, WHETHER OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT TRAVEL CAN BE OBTAINED IN A LESS COSTLY AND MORE EFFICIENT MANNER BY USING TRAVEL AGENTS, WILL CONTRIBUTE SIGNIFICANTLY TO THE CURRENT DEBATE REGARDING THE PROPOSED USE OF TRAVEL AGENTS FOR OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT TRAVEL.

IN OUR CONSIDERATION OF YOUR REQUEST, WE FORWARDED YOUR PROPOSAL TO THE AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA FOR THEIR COMMENT AND THE ENCLOSED COPY OF ITS REPLY OF MAY 5, 1980, IS FURNISHED FOR YOUR INFORMATION.