Government travel $13B tab

Let’s say that you’re really in a financial bind. You’ve lost your job and your household has negative cash flow – you’re spending far more than you’re bringing in. But you finally have secured a job interview 2000 miles away – not possible to drive, and you have to stay a couple of days. What to do? Do you:

  • Buy 1st class airfare for $8,000?
  • Stay in the most exclusive hotel in town?
  • Eat at the most expensive restaurants?

Only if you’re an idiot or someone else is paying for it. According to this piece (from the Washington Times), that’s what government employees do – after all, you’re paying for it.

…taxpayers spent $2.8 billion in 2009 just on hotel rooms for federal employees, an amount that ensured bureaucrats would always go to sleep with a mint on the pillow. In limited circumstances, employees can even qualify to stay in luxurious five-star hotels. When these expenses are combined with airfare, meals and pocket money given to federal employees, the total cost to taxpayers was $13.1 billion.

I have traveled extensively for business and was always under strict limitations, even though our customers paid for it. While we were not compelled to stay in fleabag hotels, we were never permitted to make luxury travel arrangements. I certainly have never done so when I was paying for it.

When spending other people’s money, there is no incentive to verify that trips are legitimate or worthwhile. With taxpayers facing $12.7 trillion in rapidly growing debt, it’s time for bureaucrats to give up one of the most prized perks of so-called “public service.” Self-approved, first-class travel with five-star accommodations in exotic locations at public expense should never be allowed. With the Obama administration’s emphasis on the importance of mass transit and “livable communities” for Americans, perhaps he can begin by ordering his own employees to take the bus and stay at a Motel 6.

With the availability of teleconferencing (for which the government has spent huge amounts), conference calls, and webconferencing is much of this travel even necessary?


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