Commission on Civil Rights:

Commissioners' Travel Activities

GGD-94-130: Published: Aug 8, 1994. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Commission on Civil Rights' travel activities, focusing on whether: (1) commissioners timely file their travel vouchers; (2) the Commission verified the commissioners' use of government contractor-issued charge cards for official travel purposes; and (3) commissioners' billable workdays and acceptance of voluntary services are limited by federal statutes.

GAO found that: (1) 6 of the 10 commissioners who were provided airline and train tickets between 1992 and 1994 had filed all required vouchers; (2) one commissioner was responsible for 57 of the 59 vouchers that had not been filed; (3) the timeliness of 23 of the 139 vouchers could not be determined because these vouchers lacked complete data; (4) of the 116 completed vouchers, 81 were filed within 30 days of a trip and 35 were filed more than a month late; (5) the commissioners' failure to timely submit travel vouchers has caused budgetary adjustments at the end of the fiscal year, could lead to violations of the Antideficiency Act and the bona fide needs rule, and could result in fund losses if airlines refuse to refund unused or partially used tickets; (6) individual commissioners may be accountable for the cost of their unused travel tickets if the Commission is unable to obtain refunds for these tickets; (7) the Commission had not verified that employee use of government contractor-issued charge cards was limited to official travel purposes; (8) the Commission's plan to review charge card transactions was not implemented because it did not receive the necessary reports; (9) although the appropriations limitation on commissioners' billable workdays limits the number of days they can be paid, it does not limit the amount of travel reimbursement they can receive as long as they are performing authorized Commission business; and (10) the statutory provision prohibiting the Commission from accepting volunteer services does not apply to the commissioners.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency has issued to the Commissioner who had 57 outstanding travel vouchers a bill of indebtedness for payment of common carrier tickets which have not been accounted for that were issued through the agency's travel management system. According to the agency, recovery proceedings are in effect.

    Recommendation: The Staff Director, in consultation with the Chairperson of the Commission on Civil Rights, should direct the Commission staff to determine the liability of the commissioner who has the 57 outstanding vouchers for any loss that may result from nonrefund of his airline tickets that were issued over 12 months ago.

    Agency Affected: Commission on Civil Rights

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On March 31, 1995, the agency issued revised travel procedures which implement GAO's recommendation related to commissioners' travel. The Commission also reported to GAO in October 1994 that two of the three commissioners who had outstanding travel vouchers had submitted those vouchers. The agency has issued a bill of indebtedness to the third commissioner for common carrier tickets for which no travel vouchers have been filed.

    Recommendation: The Staff Director, in consultation with the Chairperson of the Commission on Civil Rights, should direct commissioners to file travel vouchers in a timely manner as required by federal travel regulations, and that if the Commission does not receive completed travel vouchers for all trips by the end of August 1994, the Staff Director should consider directing the Commission staff to cancel the travel authorization of those commissioners who have not filed all outstanding vouchers.

    Agency Affected: Commission on Civil Rights

 

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