'In hard times you can have too much of a good thing,' moderate Democrat says.
A Democratic lawmaker wants to cut the number of limousines in the federal fleet in half, despite a significant reduction in government’s luxury vehicles in recent years.
Rep. John Barrow, a moderate Democrat in a potentially vulnerable Georgia seat, introduced the bill to boost his credentials in cutting government waste. The lawmaker said the bill, which is part of his HOTline -- Helping Out the Taxpayers -- initiative, identifies an area where the government can cut back.
“No one questions the need for safe and secure travel for our top government officials and foreign dignitaries, but in hard times you can have too much of a good thing,” Barrow said. “This legislation will cut the luxury limousine fleet in half, and the rest of the legislative package will make a lot more cuts -- all to make sure the federal government is a good steward of the taxpayer’s hard-earned money.”
The federal government’s limo fleet spiked in 2010, but has declined dramatically since then. Uncle Sam maintained 412 limos in 2010, according to data from the General Services Administration, but just 130 in 2012 -- a 68 percent decrease. Here’s a look at the number of federal limousines since 2008:
Dan Cruz, a spokesman for GSA, said the reduction was part of an overall effort to downsize the federal fleet, as well as a clarification in what qualifies as a limousine. He also noted operating costs for the fleet as a whole are down.
The total number of vehicles in the federal fleet -- including those maintained by military agencies and the U.S. Postal Service -- also spiked in 2010, in part due to an Obama administration effort to purchase new, fuel-efficient cars. GSA bought 17,600 vehicles in 2009 and 2010 using economic stimulus funds. The agency maintained about 650,000 vehicles in 2012 -- the most recent year for which data is available -- up slightly from 2008 but down significantly since 2010.
The federal government spends about $4.3 billion on its vehicle fleet every year, just shy of half its total travel budget. Obama has targeted travel as a means to reduce spending, mandating every agency cut travel costs by 30 percent compared to fiscal 2010 from 2013 through 2016. GSA recently asked the general public for its input on how to reduce travel expenses further.
NEXT STORY: How to Get What You Really Want