FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder

FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder AP file photo

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Attorney General Perks Include Personal Use of Agency Aircraft

Department spends millions on non-mission travel, GAO finds.

The Justice Department spent $11.4 million on executives’ non-mission aircraft travel from 2006 through 2011, nearly a quarter of which was for personal travel.

The attorneys general and FBI director serving in this period overwhelmingly accounted for the travel, taking 95 percent of the flights, according to the Government Accountability Office. The AGs and FBI director partially reimbursed the government for the personal trips, in accordance with the law, GAO found.

The executives were only on the hook for the cost of an equivalent commercial flight for a government employee, auditors said. For example, the attorney general took a personal trip to New York in November 2010, costing the government about $16,000. The AG reimbursed the government $420. 

The Justice Department retains an aircraft fleet primarily for missions such as surveillance and drug-trafficking prevention, but allows executives to use the crafts for non-mission travel as well.

Fifty-one percent of the AGs’ non-mission flights were for business -- for example, a speaking engagement on behalf of the agency or a meeting with government officials -- while 41 percent were personal. Ninety-seven percent of the FBI director’s trips were business related.

Federal regulations stipulate the AG must use Justice aircraft for all flights, including personal trips, for safety and communication reasons. The FBI Director now faces the same mandate, but the rule did not apply to the position until 2011.

The FBI maintains its fleet in a covert location and spent $1.5 million transporting its aircraf from that location to Ronald Reagan National Airport outside Washington prior to non-mission flights by the AG and FBI director. 

This story was updated with addtional detail. 

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