President Barack Obama this week signed an executive order calling for federal agencies to reduce spending, including travel costs, by 20%, or about $4 billion, according to White House press secretary Jay Carney.
The order calls for travel increasingly to "be limited to circumstances where the activity can only be performed away from the employee's primary office," such as inspections and diplomatic missions.
Additionally, the order directs federal employees to expand their use of remote conferencing to cut travel for meetings and conferences, and for agencies conducting meetings to use federally controlled conference center space whenever possible. All federal agencies will have to appoint a senior-level employee to make these cuts.
Several agencies already have cost-cutting plans in place. The Internal Revenue Service is on track to cut its travel spending by 27% in fiscal year 2012, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is cutting its travel budget by $17 million.
Both agencies are reducing meetings travel as part of their efforts. The Department of Energy also is reducing group travel and is pushing a nonrefundable air ticket policy, which it projects will shave $15.7 million off travel costs next year.
Besides travel, the order also directs agencies to cut spending on employees' mobile devices, reduce use of car services around Washington, end purchases of promotional "swag" and to reduce printing of documents.
Agencies are charged with developing plans for the 20% cost reduction by the end of the year.
This report originally appeared in Business Travel News.