Intelligence agencies aren’t reporting as required by federal regulations the non-mission trips its employees take on federal aircraft according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.
Intelligence agencies aren’t reporting as required by federal regulations the non-mission trips its employees take on federal aircraft according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, requested the report after questions were raised a year ago in a separate report he requested. In that report, the GAO found that two FBI Gulfstream V jets that were justified to Congress by the FBI as critical to counterterrorism operations were mainly being used for “non-mission” or personal flights. During the investigation the GAO learned that the FBI had made its own determination that, as an intelligence gathering agency, it does not have to report travel to the General Services Administration (GSA) as required by law. According to its website, the GSA oversees the business of the United States government.
“Secrecy of personal or nonmission trips taken at taxpayer expense only serves to create a distrust of the federal government. The GAO identified a significant gap that needs to be addressed to ensure transparency and verify that federal agencies are following current regulations,” Grassley said. “The intelligence agencies need to be held accountable. Transparency brings accountability and may just save the taxpayers some money.”
According to several executive branch documents, senior federal officials who travel on government aircraft for nonmission or personal purposes, except for trips that are classified, are required to report their travel to GSA. The GAO found that “GSA is not collecting all specified unclassified data as directed, and GSA has not provided a basis for deviating from executive branch requirements.”
In addition, the GAO found that the GSA fails to identify the different agencies that don’t report senior federal travel data as a result of the intelligence agency exemption. This has the potential to limit the accuracy of its Senior Federal Travel Reports. These reports give information on “the number of trips taken by senior federal officials, the costs of such trips, the number of agencies reporting, and the number and costs of trips taken by cost justification.”