Tags: travel | government | scientists

Travel Restrictions on Government Scientists Prove Costly

By    |   Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 07:26 AM

In their efforts to ensure that federal employees do not abuse expense budgets for business travel, a number of defense, science, and technology agencies are spending considerable sums on screening and monitoring travel requests, The Washington Post reported.

In some agencies, obtaining permission to attend professional conferences can now take nine months to process.

The White House Office of Management and Budget cracked down on business travel after the news that in 2010, 300 employees at the General Services Administration took part in a four-day Las Vegas junket, which saw taxpayers billed for activities unconnected to work. Extravagant or wasteful spending at other agencies soon also came to light, the Post reported.

OMB said tightened supervision of travel requests has saved roughly $3 billion, the Post reported.

Getting travel expenses under control has cost the government dearly and sometimes prevented government specialists from attending professional meetings, according to the Government Accountability Office, which examined how the policy worked in 2012 for Congress.

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington spent over $824,000 to screen requests from its scientists and engineers to take part in professional conferences. At the Energy Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory, it cost $1.6 million to review business travel applications $1.4 million beyond the previous year. The overhead increase appears connected to the introduction of a new software package, the Post reported.

Federal scientists and technicians have expressed annoyance over the travel restrictions.

The White House also heard complaints from the scientific community about the harm the limitations have had on the stature of U.S. scientists among their peers at home and abroad, the Post reported.

Department of Defense and Department of Energy "scientists and engineers are less likely to submit papers or accept speaking invitations" because of the lead time and uncertainty involved in getting travel approvals, the GAO report said.

The GAO examined travel restrictions at military-affiliated research labs and at the Energy Department's National Nuclear Safety Administration, and at the Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia national labs, the Post reported.

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In their efforts to ensure that federal employees do not abuse expense budgets for business travel a number of defense, science, and technology agencies are spending considerable sums on screening and monitoring travel requests, The Washington Post reported.
travel, government, scientists
356
2015-26-24
Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 07:26 AM
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