GSA seeks more savings in travel spending

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When the General Services Administration announced a freeze on travel reimbursement rates last week, it was just the first step in reducing travel spending by federal employees.

The agency is now developing a long-term strategy to calculate per diem rates for federal travelers, and will be consulting with experts through a federal advisory committee to determine the most cost-effective approach moving forward, acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini said Wednesday.

GSA’s initiative is in response to the Obama administration’s call for federal agencies to reduce all travel spending in fiscal 2013 by 30 percent compared to fiscal 2010. The per diem freeze will save $20 million, according to GSA, and is among several strategies the agency is pursuing to cut costs.

“Our work has just begun,” Tangherlini wrote in a blog post. “GSA will continue to identify and launch new approaches to travel, fleet, contracting, IT and real property that will drive savings and improve government’s overall efficiency.”

Tangherlini pointed to electronic travel services, online hotel bookings and renegotiated contracts with airlines to ensure discounted rates for government travelers as additional areas where GSA is reducing travel expenses. He also said the agency has proposed ending a policy that lets employees attending a federal government sponsored conference spend 25 percent more than the per diem rate.

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