C~MPTR~LLERGENIEF~ALOF WASHINGPOPd. D. B-103315 Dear Mr. Begich: t Reference is made to your letter of July 28, 1971, forwarding a copy 3 of a letter from Mr. Ken Wien, Wright Alaskan Travel, concerning the nonuse of travel agencies. You requested that the General-Accounting Office (GAO) undertake a study of its regulations governing the procurement of passenger transportation services for official Government .._(.._^* , tr&e:Ji particularly that part concerning the use of travel agencies. Section 2013, title 5, of the General Accounting Office Policy and Procedures Manual for Guidance of Federal Agencies provides that official passenger transportation services by air, bus, rail, or water be procured directly from carriers and that travel agencies not be utilized to secure such transportation (1) within the United States, Canada, or Mexico, (2) be- tween the United States and Canada or Mexico, (3) from the United States or its possessions to foreign countries, or (4) between the United States and its possessions and between and within its possessions. A limited use of travel agencies is permitted under certain circumstances when authorized by administrative regulations for travel within foreign coun- tries (except Canada and Mexico), between foreign countries, or from foreign countries to the United States and its possessionss provided no payment is made by the Government to a travel agency in addition to that which would have been properly chargeable had the service been obtained directly from the carrier(s) involved. Our regulations pertaining to transportation and travel are constantly being reviewed and studied to provide agencies and carriers with up-to-date uniform information and guidance which will lead to improved traffic procure- ment and management consistent with good fiscal practices. :-/,r- In 1966, in response to a request from the House Select Committee on " -.i., Small Business, we made a detailed study of our regulations regarding the use of travel agencies by Government departments and agencies for the procure- ment of passenger transportation services. On the basis of our analysis of information developed within GAO or furnished to us by other Government agen- cies and by carrier associations, we concluded in our report (B-103315, Octo- ber 17, 1966) that the restrictions on the use of travel agencies were legally, economically, and administratively sound. Most of the Government administra- tive offices contacted shared that view and apparently would not use travel agencies even if free to do so. One of the reasons for requiring Government agencies to procure passenger transportation services directly from the carriers is the availability of special discounts; reduced fares, rates, and charges; and concessions granted by carriers on Government travel. These concessions are granted partly because 50TH ANNIVERS B-103315 carriers enjoy certain sales and administrative economies by dealing directly with the Government at no promotional expense. The Association of American Railroads and the'Air Transport Association 3~~2.:. over the years have adopted the position that the fundamental purpose of the travel agent, in the carriers' view, is to promote and sell travel and that this purpose is not fulfilled in the case of Government travel. According to the associations, their arrangements do not provide for the payment of commissions on Government travel business. Also the Air Transport Associa- tion has advised that "the airlines have no intention of agreeing to pay com- missions for official Government travel." In our opinion, the conclusions reached in our 1966 study continue to be valid and are applicable to current Government passenger transportation procurements. A copy of that report (B-103315, October 17, 1966) is enclosed for your information. t ,F&=~.~Comptroller General of the United States Enclosure The Honorable Nick Begich House of Representatives
Procurement of Passenger Transportation Services for Official Government Travel
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1971-09-03.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)