Congressman Dennis Ross (R-FL) has introduced legislation in response to the GSA conference spending scandal that aims to “bring federal travel budgets back to reality.”
Dubbed the Government Spending Accountability (GSA) Act (HR 4472), the legislation :
- Reduces travel budgets of every agency 50% (from 2012 levels) for FY 2013-14
- Reduces the travel budgets of every agency 75% (from 2012 levels) for FY 2015
- No later than 30 days after the beginning of fiscal years 2014-2016, the head of each agency shall submit a report to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee in the House and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in the Senate detailing the total travel expenses paid or reimbursed by that agency.
- The report shall include all dates, locations and costs of such travel.
- Agencies dealing with national security and public safety are exempted.
Ross is not the first lawmaker to introduce legislation in response to the GSA news. For instance, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) introduced legislation that would attempt to bring greater transparency to agencies’ conference expenses.
Speaking on the legislation, Ross said, “The GSA Vegas vacation is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wasteful spending. In a day and age when you can FaceTime from Beijing to Washington, text and call from one end of the globe to another, and the American taxpayer faces trillion dollar deficits, spending $15 billion a year on travel is a luxury that is both no longer necessary and no longer affordable.”
The legislation aims to mirror the recommendations from the Simpson-Bowles Commission in its cuts to federal travel budgets. To this end, Ross stated, “As the Simpson Bowles Commission pointed out, ‘despite advances in technology, federal travel costs have ballooned in recent years, growing 56 percent between 2001 and 2006 alone.’ At the same time, budgets for all federal agencies grew at two to three times inflation from 2000 – 2012. The American taxpayer has had enough and before we start talking about raising or changing taxes, we need to go over the federal budget piece by piece and put an end to duplicative, wasteful or downright stupid spending.”