Travel by Certain Noncareer Government Officials

FPCD-81-49: Published: May 27, 1981. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1981.

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GAO was asked to review the records in seven agencies for travel performed by Schedule C employees and executive level and noncareer Senior Executive Service employees during the post-election transition period. The objectives were to determine how many of the specified employees traveled during that time period, their destination, the cost of the trips, and the purpose of the trips.

GAO found that 333 noncareer officials took 798 trips which cost about $454,000 during the transition period. About 94 percent were domestic trips lasting an average of 4 days and costing an average of $474. The remaining trips were to foreign countries, which lasted an average of 9 days and cost an average of $2,089. About 70 percent of the trips began during the 5-week period immediately following the November election. GAO could not determine the purposes of 23 percent of the trips because the purposes were not documented. The rest of the trips were classified as representational travel and training travel. On the basis of the documents available, GAO had no reason to question the justification for these trips. In reviewing travel records, GAO noted three areas of concern: use of foreign carriers, use of first-class accommodations, and failure to document the purpose of the trips. GAO will review further those trips that involved the use of a foreign carrier to determine whether they violated the Fly American Act. If it finds that the use of a foreign carrier was not justified, GAO will disallow appropriated funds for the transportation and ask the agency that paid for the ticket to collect the cost from the traveler. GAO will bring to the attention of the affected departments the lack of justification for first-class accommodations and ask them to recover the additional costs as required by the Federal travel regulations. GAO has long been concerned that agencies have not focused enough management attention on the purpose of trips.

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