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A question was raised reguarding the reasons why travel agents are prohibited from providing travel services for official Government travel. The questioner asserted that the governing Federal regulations discriminate against small businessmen since the required services can be provided to the Government, but regulations prohibit businesses from doing so. GAO stated that at the request of a House Committee it had previously studied the effects of the prohibition. In response to the study, a circular letter was issued to the heads of all Government agencies and departments stating the willingness to lift the ban for individual agencies on the basis of analyses that adequately demonstrate economies to be achieved or to allow tests of the use of travel agents for the purpose of demonstrating whether savings and efficiencies will result. Thus travel agents will have the opportunity to participate in the Government travel market and to demonstrate that the use of travel agents will be beneficial to the Government. However, a current Air Traffic Conference Sales Agency Agreement prohibits airline payment of commissions to travel agents on Government air travel. Thus it may prove unprofitable for travel agents to provide travel services to the Government.

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