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The Perks of Government Employment

Past audit work by the U.S. General Accountability Office showed “widespread improper premium class travel” by employees at the Department of Defense and the Department of State. In a report released today (requires Adobe), GAO looks at “the magnitude of premium travel governmentwide and the extent such travel was improper.”

GAO reports it found:

“Breakdowns in internal controls and a weak control environment resulted in at least $146 million in improper first and business class travel governmentwide. The federal government spent over $230 million on about 53,000 premium class tickets from July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2006. Premium class tickets are costly—for example, a Department of Agriculture (USDA) executive flew business class from Washington, D.C., to Zurich, Switzerland, at a cost of $7,500 compared to $900 for a coach class ticket. Based on statistical sampling, GAO estimated that 67 percent of premium class travel was not properly authorized, justified, or both.”

GAO also reports that:

“GAO’s analysis of flights involving destinations in the United States and Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Europe lasting 14 hours or more showed that 72 and 83 percent, respectively, of State’s and Millenium Challenge Corporation’s) flights involving these locations were in premium class. In contrast, 3 percent of all DOD’s and the Department of Homeland Security’s flights to the same locations were in premium class.”

My favorite example, however, was from the State Department where a family of eight relocating to Eastern Europe flew premium class at a cost of $46,000 whereas coach tickets would have cost $12,000.

Ah yes, the joys of working for the fedrull government where travel is to be conducted "as responsibly as possible."


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