Federal Federal File

Travel Checkpoint

By Christina A. Samuels — September 26, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A Senate subcommittee has been holding federal agencies’ feet to the fire about expenses for conference travel.

The Department of Education and other executive-branch agencies were asked to defend their travel spending policies during a hearing earlier this month of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee on federal financial management, government information, and international security.

The Education Department’s annual spending on travel has increased 261 percent since 2000, according to the subcommittee, which is led by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

Michell Clark, the department’s assistant secretary for management, told the panel on Sept. 14 that conferences and travel only made up a small fraction of the department’s total budget—$6.3 million out of $56 billion in discretionary spending in fiscal 2006.

Department staff members tend to travel in small groups, Mr. Clark said. “Seventy-six percent of the conferences sponsored or attended by department staff between October 2004 and May 2006 involved fewer than three department employees,” he said.

The recent conferences have been spurred by the need to explain policies stemming from the No Child Left Behind Act, he added.

“Much of our work entails person-to-person contact with our numerous state and local partners and stakeholders,” he said.

The conferences “help grant recipients avoid missteps that could lead to costly program fraud, waste, and abuse,” he added.

The hearing included testimony from representatives of 10 other federal agencies, including the departments of the Interior, Justice, and Labor. All said they were relying more on technology to reduce the need for employees to travel.

Still, Sen. Coburn said, he was disturbed to learn about some conferences, such as a $722,000 trip for 125 Interior Department employees, and a series of California wine seminars for 11 Department of the Treasury workers that was paid for by the federal government.

“It’s really not about conferences and travel,” Sen. Coburn said at the hearing, which is the second he has convened this year on federal agency travel. “It’s really about [whether] the American people trust us to be prudent in a time when we’re spending $400 billion of their kids’ money that we don’t have.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 27, 2006 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Classroom Tech Outpaces Research. Why That's a Problem
Experts call for better alignment between research and the classroom in Capitol Hill discussions.
4 min read
People walk outside the U.S Capitol building in Washington, June 9, 2022.
People walk outside the U.S Capitol building in Washington, June 9, 2022. Experts called for investments in education research and development at a symposium at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on June 13.
Patrick Semansky/AP
Federal Opinion Federal Education Reform Has Largely Failed. Unfortunately, We Still Need It
Neither NCLB nor ESSA have lived up to their promise, but the problems calling for national action persist.
Jack Jennings
4 min read
Red, Blue, and Purple colors over a fine line etching of the Capitol building. Republicans and Democrats, Partisan Politicians.
Douglas Rissing/iStock
Federal A More Complete Picture of Immigration's Impact on U.S. Public Schools
House Republicans say a migrant influx has caused "chaos" in K-12 schools. The reality is more complicated.
10 min read
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
John Minchillo/AP
Federal Explainer What Is Title IX? Schools, Sports, and Sex Discrimination
Title IX, the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, is undergoing changes. What it is, how it works, and how it's enforced.
2 min read
In this Nov. 21, 1979 file photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to get their support in the next election.
In this Nov. 21, 1979, photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington at an event where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to win their support in the next election.
Harvey Georges/AP