State Department and United States Information Agency Ship Travel and Travel AdvancesGao ID: 128182 October 23, 1985
Testimony was given on a GAO report which evaluated the Department of State's and the U.S. Information Agency's (USIA) use of ships for official travel and management of travel advances. GAO found unreasonable and excessive use of government travel funds in: (1) the use of ship travel for post assignments, transfers, and home leave; (2) the mismanagement of travel advances; and (3) the failure to follow established travel regulations. Several examples of ship travel by foreign service officers were cited to illustrate the excessive cost and time consumed. GAO compared the travel policies of State, USIA, and the Agency for International Development and found that: (1) although each agency uses the same basic travel regulations, they apply them differently in the case of ship travel; (2) State and USIA do not have an effective system to monitor, track, report on, and collect advance travel funds; and (3) in many cases, employees' overdue reimbursements of travel advances were written off rather than collected. GAO recommended that State and USIA: (1) revise travel regulations to preclude ship travel except for medical reasons; (2) require reconciliation of all delinquent travel advance accounts; (3) require immediate, appropriate collection efforts; and (4) reemphasize to approving and certifying officials the importance of enforcing existing regulations.