According to one attorney who represents federal employees, the recent scandal that has plagued the General Services Administration should serve as a wake up call to federal employees who conduct business travel.
John P Mahoney, a partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC in Washington D.C and chair of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Practice Group says that all federal workers have a responsibility for controlling taxpayer money and must adhere to the Federal Travel Regulations (FTR) as outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
Under Part 300-1.20 of the FTR, federal employees are reminded that “Official travel is conducted in a responsible manner with the need to minimize administrative costs.”
“Federal employees should make no mistake about it; violating government spending rules and regulations is a terminable offense. In this case it is alleged that the outgoing GSA employees’ actions went against the very regulations they were responsible for enacting and federal employees who are guilty of the same egregious actions may likely be terminated,” said Mahoney.
While the rules are clear in many regards, it can be challenging to follow the regulations in detail in some cases because they are constantly being updated and revised. When in doubt, federal employees should seek proper approval from management in writing before making a purchase.
Mahoney added, “All federal employees need to understand that wasting taxpayer dollars has taken down many politicians and other people in powerful positions. The lesson all should learn here is that if you blow taxpayer bucks, managers will not hesitate in disciplining you. The rule of thumb for federal employees should be this – ‘If you think it’s a violation, it’s a violation.'”
A federal employee entrusted with an agency credit card or the permission to spend tax dollars on work-related expenses should:
- Get written approval via e-mail or signed letter from management that the expense is permitted;
- Show at least two different pricing proposals before making the purchase to indicate that being economical was researched;
- Get receipts for all purchases; and
- Adhere to agency protocol in recording and registering all expenses