A recent report by the GAO found instances of impropriety in federal government agencies practices for premium-priced business travel. Originally reported in the October 3, 2007 edition of the Wall Street Journal, the [[shenanigan]]s of our federal employees are probably available in business and perhaps, even in your business…

Shenanigans add up to $146 million of abuse – being unapproved and inappropriate use of business class air travel. This is 67% of the money the federal agencies spend on premium-class travel.

Examples include a senior executive in the Foreign Agriculture Service who took 10 premium-class trips to Europe from Washington where a subordinate approved the trip, which of course is inappropriate approval in the best of circumstances.  In response to the report, the Agriculture Department sent a memo to all employees saying that exceptions to coach travel must be approved by the CFO's office.

Another example is of the Defense Department official who traveled business class because of a medical condition backed up by a letter from a DoD doctor describing a procedure in 2001… 

Different agencies have different standards for approving premium travel – and probably should.

For example, the Postal Service board of governors can travel first class on business anytime. Of course, as part timers, they are paid only $30k. And, the Federal Reserve governors travel in business class exceeding five hours, while the Chairman and the security detail travel first class. Ben Bernanke is a financial rock star and the alternative of private flying would cost even more.

How does your organization approve travel? Are there approval requirements, or is it up to the person or manager to determine the appropriateness of travel, and then premium travel?

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