OCTOBER 03, 2007
Despite the serious fiscal challenges facing the U.S. government, federal employees wasted nearly $150 million in one year alone on unauthorized premium-class travel.
Claiming that they were entitled to the perks, employees from various government agencies wasted the valuable taxpayer dollars by openly flouting travel rules while department heads did nothing.
A through probe by the investigative arm of congress, the Government Accountability Office, reveals the widespread abuse among federal employees who travel and disregard their agencyâ??s own rules with no consequences.
A 50-page report documents abusive travel spending by more than a dozen federal agencies from July 2005 to June 2006 and concludes that at least $146 million worth of travel was unauthorized or unjustified. Among the worst offenders was the State Department, which racked up nearly $180,000 in unauthorized premium class travel in only six months.
An Agriculture Department executive took 25 unjustified premium-class flights totaling $163,000 even though the agency specifically forbids such travel and a political appointee at the Pentagon took 15 premium-class flights for an unjustified â??medical conditionâ? at a cost of $105,000.
Additionally, nine employees from the Justice Department charged the government $35,000 for unauthorized premium-class tickets by adding separate flights to their calculations.
Federal rules say government employees must fly coach unless the flight takes longer than 14 hours or the employee received agency approval based on a legitimate and documented medical condition. Other exceptions include security concerns or lack of availability of coach seats.
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