Frequent Fliers:

Use of Airline Bonus Awards by AID Employees

NSIAD-86-217: Published: Sep 26, 1986. Publicly Released: Oct 28, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Agency for International Development's (AID) procedures for controlling and using bonus flight coupons that its employees received from airlines in connection with official travel.

GAO found that AID issued instructions that implemented a Comptroller General decision which held that airline promotional awards that federal employees received in official travel were the federal government's property. GAO reviewed 50 employees' travel records and found that: (1) nine were members of frequent-flier programs; (2) seven employees redeemed awards to pay for all or portions of official trips; (3) two used the awards to upgrade accommodations to first class for official trips; and (4) only one employee improperly redeemed bonus awards to enable a family member to travel with him, and AID intended to collect that travel amount from the employee. Since savings to the government occur in the use of the frequent-flier programs and bonus awards, GAO believes that AID should encourage all of its employees who travel often to take advantage of the savings available through their participation in these programs. Since GAO had not previously addressed the question of accommodation upgrades, and did not intend that employees redeem mileage awards for upgrades without prior government approval, GAO did not believe that AID employees acted improperly.

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