Travel Practices:

Private Funding of AID Employees' Travel

NSIAD-87-92: Published: Mar 12, 1987. Publicly Released: Mar 27, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO investigated the Agency for International Development's (AID) procedures for avoiding conflicts of interest for official travel funded by private sources. GAO also reported on its consideration of an Executive Order that defines standards of ethics for government employees in assessing such travel.

GAO found that: (1) AID employees made 70 official trips between August 6, 1985, and June 30, 1986, that nonfederal sources funded fully or partially; (2) the AID Office of the General Counsel approved 51 trips in advance and 1 trip retroactively; (3) employees took 10 of the remaining 18 trips within the first few months after AID instituted its new travel guidelines, so they may have been unaware of the guidelines; and (4) the General Counsel approved 2 trips that appeared contrary to AID guidelines and raised questions as to the appearance of conflicts of interest. GAO noted that AID policies prohibit employees from accepting payment for personal travel from private organizations that have or seek contracts or grants from AID, so employees are responsible for refusing payments from these organizations.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID issued a general notice on July 22, 1987, informing employees of the requirement to obtain approval of the General Counsel of offers by private organizations to pay official travel expenses.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should remind agency employees and legal staff to follow the August 5, 1985, guidelines for avoiding actual or apparent conflicts of interest arising from acceptance of offers to pay travel expenses by private organizations that have or seek contract and grant awards from AID; specifically, employees should obtain General Counsel approval before accepting such offers, and the General Counsel should disapprove these offers when employees have responsibilities involving these organizations.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: AID amended its guidelines to require bureaus and offices to advise the General Counsel of organizations offering to pay employee travel expenses that have, or are seeking to do, business with the traveller's office or bureau. An accomplishment report is being processed.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, AID, should instruct bureau and office supervisors to advise the legal staff if organizations offering to pay employees' travel expenses have or are seeking contracts or grants with AID. This information could be provided when approval for privately funded trips is requested.

    Agency Affected: United States Agency for International Development

 

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