A Look at the Prohibition on Using Commercial Travel Agents

LCD-78-219: Published: Aug 8, 1978. Publicly Released: Aug 8, 1978.

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Federal employees are prohibited by regulation from using travel agents to procure transportation for official purposes. A questionnaire was sent to 20 civilian and 5 military agencies to determine the views of the agencies concerning the use of commercial travel agents.

Six civilian and five Department of Defense agencies were opposed to removing the prohibition to commercial travel agents, whereas the remaining 14 agencies had no objection to lifting the ban. Many of those without objections indicated that there would be no cost savings or other advantages in using travel agents except when employees travel overseas. Arguments can be made both for and against lifting the prohibition. Travel agents offer some services now being provided by government employees, but savings, if any, cannot be measured because government employees generally have additional duties to perform. The administrative burden and the cost of selecting and monitoring travel agents for government business would have to be offset against any savings in personnel costs. GAO would not object to lifting the prohibition on an individual agency basis if such action is shown to be more efficient and less costly.

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