Full transparency for taxpayer-funded travel by federal officials

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Taxpayer-funded travel has always been an easy target for both sides to score political points.  Long before Democrats pounced on former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned over allegations related to his travel on private planes, Republicans cried foul over the use of taxpayer-funded planes for President Obama’s fund-raising trips.

The salacious details related to taxpayer-funded travel across the executive and legislative branches of the federal government periodically make the headlines, but once they go away, the underlying problems remain unresolved. Travel information is fragmented, incomplete, and impenetrable (if it is reported at all), making it difficult and time-consuming to acquire.  There is no accessible, searchable database to find out how often federal officials use taxpayer-funded travel and how much it costs.

Citizens Against Government Waste and the National Taxpayers Union are calling on taxpayers to sign an online petition to demand detailed data transparency on who is traveling at taxpayer expense; the purpose, duration and cost of the trip; the mode of transport; the identification of who is traveling along with the public official; the purpose of the trip; and the compilation of an annual report describing the travel expenses, including the costs associated with using military aircraft and personnel, all be aggregated on one searchable website, much like the Federal Election Commission allows Americans to search all campaign donations.  The signatures will be tallied and delivered to White House Chief of Staff General John Kelly, and the Republican and Democratic Congressional leadership.    

Without greater transparency and accountability, the ethical issues permeating official Washington travel habits will continue to fester, and Americans will continue to be kept in the dark.



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