Three major executive agencies have failed to report legally-required annual luxury travel expense information to the General Service Administration (GSA), and Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC) wants to know why.
The three agencies in question are the Department of Agriculture, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Small Business Administration (SBA). For the past five years, the SBA has failed to file reports. Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture has not reported for the past four years and NASA skipped 2012.
Chapter 300-70.100 of the Federal Travel Regulation (FTR) requires Federal agencies to annually submit premium-class (anything other than "coach") travel data to the General Services Administration (GSA). Yet, as the GSA notes in its FY 2013 report:
• Three Chief Financial Officers Act agencies did not report premium-class travel (Department of Agriculture, National Science Foundation, and Small Business Administration); and
• Two Chief Financial Officers Act agencies reported incomplete premium-class travel data (Departments of Justice and Interior).
Thirty-four organizations reported funding 10,317 premium-class segments, for a cost of $27.8M. Sixteen organizations submitted a "negative" response, citing that they did not have premium class travel data to report. Of the 10,317 premium-class segments reported, 86% were reported as business-class air transportation.
There have been inquiries into how executive agencies are spending tax-payer dollars after a report was released detailing how NASA employees were flying first class.
Rep. Jones has sent a letter to the inspector general for each of the three agencies involved in his probe, calling them to investigate why the reports weren't filed. Announcing his inquiry, Rep. Jones stressed the importance of the issue to American taxpayers:
"The American people have a right to know how their money is being used. Tax dollars pay for the travel of all federal agencies, and the government should spend that money wisely - especially at a time when our nation is over $17 trillion in debt. The luxury travel reporting requirement improves accountability and transparency and should be strictly followed."