House Committee Wants to Know What Agencies Are Doing to Comply with Hatch Act Travel Restrictions

It’s an election year, so agencies and their employees have to make sure not to run afoul of the Hatch Act. A House Committee is seeking information from Executive branch agencies on how they ensure they stay within the law’s travel restrictions.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform sent a letter late last week to Executive branch agencies requesting information on how they ensure compliance with the Hatch Act’s restrictions on political travel.

The letter stated that the Hatch Act prohibits the use of Treasury funds to pay for costs associated with political activity by Executive branch employees and that the Committee’s position is that taxpayers should not pay for the travel expenses of the cabinet and other senior officials for political purposes. The letter also noted, however, that it is not always clear if the purpose of a trip is political in nature.

“Further complicating the matter is that some trips may involve both political and official activities. The costs associated with the political components of a senior official’s mixed trip may not be paid using funds from the United States Treasury…” wrote Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in the letter.

Given that it’s an election year and due to the complexity of defining travel for political purposes, the lawmakers wanted agencies to provide more information as to how they ensure compliance on the Hatch Act’s travel restrictions. They also requested information on formulas used to apportion travel costs and how the agencies handle travel requests from other government officials or offices.

A copy of the letter is included below.

2016-07-21 Letter re: Hatch Act and political travel

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Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.