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Regulatory Focus™ > News Articles > FDA's Travel Budget Could be Cut Dramatically Under New Order

FDA's Travel Budget Could be Cut Dramatically Under New Order

Posted 15 May 2012 | By Alexander Gaffney, RAC 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may well see its ability to travel to meetings and conduct conferences restricted as the result of a clown.

An emerging scandal involving the US General Services Administration (GSA)-the body ostensibly responsible for overseeing federal spending-and a conference at which the agency purchased the services of a mind reader and a clown has other agencies scrambling to review their budgets and cut travel costs, reports The Washington Post.

New restrictions announced on 11 May by the Office of Management and Budget's Acting Director Jeffrey Zients directs agencies-including FDA-to spend "30% less on travel expenses" than spent on travel in 2010.

That limit comes with a caveat: FDA may "exclude certain travel expenses" from that 30% reduction target if it can show it "could undermine such critical government functions as… health and safety inspections."

FDA's Deputy Secretary will also need to review and approve any conference where costs are expected to exceed $100,000, and is banned from spending more than $500,000 without a waiver from Commissioner Margaret Hamburg.

The effects could be far reaching, says the Washington Post's Joe Davidson.

"At some point, it's worth asking whether the effort to limit conference and travel spending could hurt the need of government employees to gain the training and information required to better serve the public," writes Davidson.

But OMB Controller Daniel Werfel counters Davidson, telling The Washington Post the guidance "will not hamper the ability of federal employees to do their jobs for the American People. What this guidance does is make sure that agency officials are careful when using taxpayer dollars in fulfilling their agencies' missions and held accountable for their decisions."

Read more:

The Washington Post - New federal limits on travel, meetings

OMB - Continuing to Crack Down on Government Waste

OMB Memorandum to Agencies: Promoting Efficient Spending to Support Agency Operations


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