Employee Travel:

Authority and Rationale for Limitations on Travel Advances

GGD-88-42FS: Published: Feb 26, 1988. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the federal travel regulations that limit the travel advances federal employees receive in connection with official travel, specifically the authority for: (1) General Services Administration (GSA) regulations which limit travel advances to 80 percent of the estimated expenses; and (2) Treasury policy guidelines which encourage federal agencies to limit travel advances to no more than $25 per day if the employee has a GSA-approved charge card.

GAO found that: (1) GSA and Treasury officials believe that reducing outstanding travel advances could result in savings, since the government would not have to borrow funds to finance the advances and would avoid interest payments; (2) there was no data available to determine if the travel advance limitations actually resulted in savings to the government; and (3) as of September 30, 1981, GSA reported outstanding travel advances that totalled $300 million due to employees receiving advances that exceeded actual expenses. GAO reviewed six agencies with the largest estimated budgets for fiscal year 1988 and found that: (1) their travel advance policies and procedures were not uniform; (2) they generally limited employees' travel advances to no more than 80 percent of estimated expenses; and (3) some agencies further limit travel advances if the employee has a GSA-approved charge card.

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