Senators seek to slash federal travel budget

By Michelle Baran
A bill that includes a proposal to cut the federal government’s annual travel budget by 75% was introduced in the Senate this week.

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the bill’s sponsors, said the government’s annual travel spending currently tops $15 billion a year, “a figure that is no longer necessary or sustainable.”

The provision is part of the Federal Workforce Reduction and Reform Act of 2011, which aims to reduce federal spending by more than $600 billion over the next decade.

The bill also proposed extending the current pay freeze on federal civilian employees’ salaries by three years, freezing bonuses for three more years and reducing the size of the federal contracted workforce by 15% over the next 10 years.

The legislation was proposed after President Obama signed a debt-ceiling agreement calling for $2.4 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years.

Geoff FreemanWhile Geoff Freeman, executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association, said that government spending cuts “are necessary,” he added that “a 75% arbitrary cut in government travel is not good for taxpayers, it’s not good for the employees of these agencies who have important work to get done, and it’s certainly not good for the millions of employees in our industry who contribute to local economies dependent on this income coming in.”

Agencies that book travel for the growing federal workforce don’t appear to be worried yet about having to scale back. A representative of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, which operates government-travel division CWTSatoTravel, said it was too soon to comment on the proposed legislation and that it wasn’t the first time there has been a proposed cut to the government’s travel spending.
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