Use of Discount Airline Fares and Teleticketing Would Help Save on Government Travel Expenses

FGMSD-78-46: Published: Jul 21, 1978. Publicly Released: Jul 21, 1978.

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A major portion of federal travel costs involves federal employees' travel on commercial airlines. In fiscal year 1976, for example, the federal government spent at least $470 million on airline fares alone and incurred high administrative costs for travel as well. The methods used to make airline reservations, obtain tickets, and pay for them vary by department and agency. Such discounts as excursion, group, and off-peak air fares, which are readily available and would not interfere with agency business, frequently are not used.

Although federal travel regulations require use of lowest available air fares, most employees who qualify for discount fares generally do not obtain them. Most federal agencies do not keep accounting records of discounts taken, analyze reasons why discounts are not taken, or regularly monitor travel expenditures to make sure that discount fares are used. Greater group fare use would be possible if the General Services Administration (GSA) would make and pay for, on a reimbursable basis, federal group reservations for routine flights. The proper use of teleticket machines, which electronically produce airline tickets, would reduce the government's cost of procuring airline tickets, processing unused tickets for refunds, and auditing travel expenditures. The federal government could save at least $145,000 annually if agencies would purchase rather than lease the 172 teleticket machines now in use. Many agencies waited months before requesting refunds for unused tickets and could not determine whether the amount of refunds received was correct.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The heads of departments and agencies should: (1) review the use of airline discount fares and inform employees of the potential for savings; (2) establish adequate accounting for savings on discounts taken and procedures for analyzing explanations for not taking discounts; and (3) evaluate audit priorities and staff resources to determine the need for periodic internal audits of the use of discount fares. The Administrator, GSA, should: (1) regularly inform federal agencies of discount air fares available; (2) determine the feasibility of establishing a system for consolidating federal travel reservations; (3) evaluate the feasibility of providing assistance to agencies sponsoring multiagency conferences by making group fare reservations; (4) amend guidelines and bulletins to include information on sharing teleticket machines; and (5) direct each regional office to survey machine use in its region and work to increase the use of teleticket machines.

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