OMB cracks down on travel, conferences and property expenses
The White House wants agencies and departments to cut back on travel, conferences, real estate, and fleet management expenses. By Aug. 9 agencies are to submit to the Office of Management and Budget a plan to reduce travel expenses by at least 30 percent in fiscal 2013, according to a May 11 memo (.pdf) from OMB Acting Director Jeff Zients.
What's more, agencies are to include in their fiscal 2014 budget submission a description of how the agencies will sustain the travel reduction. "Agencies must maintain this reduced level of spending each year through FY 2016," says the memo.
The Joint Federal Travel Regulations and the Federal Travel Regulation will also be reviewed to establish policies on car rental sharing, low-cost airfare and travel reimbursement, among others, says the memo.
The memo also requires deputy secretaries to review any conference where the agency spending could exceed $100,000 and no agency can spend over $500,000 on a conference without a waiver from the secretary. Under the guidance, all conference expenses in excess of $100,000 must be publicly reported each year, beginning Jan. 31, 2013.
The guidance also prohibits agencies from increasing the size of their civilian real estate inventories, except under limited circumstances. And the memo says by Aug. 9, OMB and the General Services Administration will provide agencies with additional guidance on real estate and fleet reduction.
The guidance builds upon work already underway to find efficiencies said Zients in a May 11 blog post. By scrutinizing travel and conference budgets agencies have produced more than $280 million in reduced costs in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 compared to the same period in FY 2010, he said.
The memo comes a month and a half after an $822,000 training conference for GSA personnel came to light--a scandal that triggered the resignation of three GSA officials, including Administrator Martha Johnson.