Is the U.S. government wasting millions on trips abroad?

Is the U.S. government wasting millions on trips abroad?

The Center for Public Integrity |
August 29, 2018

Compared to other countries, American officials often receive more generous reimbursements for food and lodging

In June 2017, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt traveled to Italy, stopping first in Rome for three nights and then Bologna for two to meet with G7 environment ministers. His reimbursement for meals and lodging on the trip totaled $1,942.

Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna had a similar itinerary, over four nights. But following her government’s reimbursement rules, she expensed just $812 – less than half of Pruitt’s tab.

This discrepancy is illustrative of a U.S. government system for foreign travel expenses that the Center for Public Integrity found is significantly more generous than the comparable standards set by other countries and institutions.

The disparity could be costing American taxpayers millions of dollars annually.

Moreover, many of the entities tasked with setting, maintaining and overseeing these per diem rates — the daily, taxpayer-funded allowance government officials receive for lodging, food and incidentals while traveling — also benefit from them. This includes members of Congress and employees of the U.S. State Department.

“The whole thing is excessive,” said Ruddy Wang, a former State Department foreign service officer, adding that there seems to be little incentive for American travelers to cut costs. “There's no reason for anyone to leave money on the table.”

Credit by -  The Center for Public Integrity

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