The General Services Administration (GSA) has made quite a few headlines recently due to excessive (and irresponsible) use of government funds at various conferences and training retreats, but now it seems it’s time for them to deal with a more cash-strapped budget. While spending has been much more carefully scrutinized since news broke of their lavish Las Vegas conference in 2010, what has been called by some politicians as a deeply layered and systemic abuse of funds has resulted in an investigation that appears to be spreading to other agencies as well. The overall response? Shore up federal travel and expense management and reduce spendingnow.
It appears the GSA is taking that advice. The agency has announced that they will freeze federal per diem rates at 2012 levels, which means no increase in compensation for lodging and other expenses and, hopefully, expense reports that are a bit more budget friendly. This response is only partially scandal-related, as the Office of Management and Budget is requiring that all agencies reduce travel-related costs by 30% in 2013.
Some are concerned that this move will result in fewer lodging options for federal employees who must stay in more expensive urban locations, but there appears to be little in the way of outside sympathy expressed over their current predicament. Federal agencies need more than just budget cuts; there has to be a better system of review put into place, something best provided by spend management software, which can enforce spending limits and red-flag purchases that don’t comply with agency spend policies. Cutting into the budget reduces the overall impact on taxpayer dollars, but it doesn’t ensure that what is allotted is spent in an appropriate manner.
On the subject of the new travel spend cuts, Government Executive reports acting GSA administrator Dan Tangherlini as saying, “By keeping per diem rates at current levels, we are supporting federal agencies in controlling costs and ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used wisely.”