The U.S. General Services Administration last week announced
plans to form an expert committee to review its travel program, which serves
all U.S. federal civilian agencies. First on the agenda is a reconsideration of
GSA's per diem methodology.
Nominations for participation in the Governmentwide Travel
Advisory Committee are due by Jan. 25. The council is designed to assess "existing
travel policies, processes and procedures, that are accountable and transparent,"
according to an announcement posted in the Federal
Register on Dec. 26.
GSA in August froze 2013 lodging and meal per diem rates,
noting it said would save about $20 million in fiscal year 2013. The move
bought time to continue evaluating the per diem methodology. "We're
looking for industry experts to address trends and provide advice to the
government on the per diem rate," a GSA spokesperson said last week. "They'll
look at existing policies and provide recommendations."
The committee's formation follows the April resignation of
GSA administrator Martha Johnson after a GSA Inspector General report detailed an
October 2010 Las Vegas spa and casino conference on which GSA employees, in
Johnson's words, "squandered" $822,000. Acting chief Dan Tangherlini
A maximum of 15 members will comprise the committee,
including travel managers, hoteliers, airline managers, association leaders and
state and local government representatives. No federally registered lobbyist
may serve. "Potential candidates may be asked to provide detailed
information concerning financial interests that might be affected by
recommendations of the GTAC to permit evaluation of possible sources of
conflicts of interest," according to GSA's notice.
GSA planned to make public later this
month a GTAC charter.
The annual U.S. federal travel budget is about $15 billion.