Federal travel tab slashed $1 billion, largely in conference cuts

Originally posted by TravelMole

Federal government travelers cut their spending by more than a billion dollars so far in 2013, largely by cutting down on conference spending, the Federal Times reported last week.

Travel-related charges to the SmartPay charge card program fell 17%, from $7.3 billion to about $6 billion -- and more than 40% from the $9.6 billion government workers spent on travel in fiscal 2011.

The decline is due to "aggressive steps" to cut conference spending and strict controls to make sure travel dollars are spent wisely that are scheduled to remain in place until 2016.

Agencies must report any conference spending in excess of $100,000, and employees must get senior management approval for conference spending.

The Interior Department, for example, has increased the use of teleconferencing, videoconferencing and webinars and cut employee travel by $30 million.

GSA spokeswoman Mafara Hobson told the Federal Times the agency eliminated nearly 50 conferences in 2013, including its annual Training Conference and Expo, as well as FedForum and Fed Fleet, because of the budget cuts.

But the Federal Times also quoted an unnamed Air Force employee who said the cuts were "a knee-jerk reaction to recent scandals and that even vital travel is getting cut across DoD."

"When someone craps their pants, we all have to wear diapers," he said. "This is hardly the way to run the DoD efficiently."

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