oversight

Presidential Travel: Secret Service and DOD Need to Ensure That Expenditure Reports Are Prepared and Submitted to Congress

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2019-02-05.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States Government Accountability Office
               Report to Congressional Requesters




               PRESIDENTIAL
January 2019




               TRAVEL

               Secret Service and
               DOD Need to Ensure
               That Expenditure
               Reports Are Prepared
               and Submitted to
               Congress




GAO-19-178
                                            January 2019

                                            PRESIDENTIAL TRAVEL
                                            Secret Service and DOD Need to Ensure That
                                            Expenditure Reports Are Prepared and Submitted to
Highlights of GAO-19-178, a report to
                                            Congress
congressional requesters




Why GAO Did This Study                      What GAO Found
The Secret Service is responsible for       GAO estimated that federal agencies incurred costs of about $13.6 million for the
protecting the President and his family,    President’s four trips to Mar-a-Lago from February 3 through March 5, 2017. This
including adult children when they          estimate consisted of approximately $10.6 million for operating costs of
travel. The Secret Service can request      government aircraft and boats and $3 million for temporary duty costs of
assistance in its mission from other        government personnel supporting the President’s travel, including transportation,
agencies, such as DOD and the Coast         lodging, and meals and incidental expenses. These figures do not include certain
Guard. When the President travels, he       classified cost information or the salaries and benefits of government personnel
must fly on DOD aircraft.                   traveling with the President because, salaries and benefits would be paid
GAO was asked to review the travel-         regardless of whether the President was traveling.
related costs for four trips that the
President took to Mar-a-Lago and            Estimated Costs Incurred by Federal Agencies in Support of the President’s Four Trips to
                                            Mar-a-Lago from February 3 – March 5, 2017 (dollars in thousands)
three trips that the President’s adult
children made to certain overseas                                                                Operational Temporary duty        Total travel
destinations. This report examines (1)                                                                costs           costs              costs
the costs incurred by federal agencies       Department of Defense                                     7,499              969            8,468
associated with the President’s travel       Department of Homeland Security                           3,050            2,022            5,071
on selected trips to Mar-a-Lago, (2) the
                                             Other executive agencies                                     18               10               29
costs incurred by federal agencies
                                             Total travel costs                                       10,567            3,001           13,568
associated with certain overseas trips
taken by Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric         Source: GAO analysis of agency data. | GAO-19-178

Trump, and (3) the extent to which the      Note: Numbers may not sum to totals due to rounding.
Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and
DOD have reported their costs               The United States Secret Service (Secret Service) incurred about $396,000,
pursuant to the Presidential Protection     primarily for temporary duty costs, while protecting Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric
Assistance Act of 1976. GAO analyzed
                                            Trump during three international trips taken in January and February 2017. Eric
agency cost data in connection with
                                            Trump traveled to Uruguay and the Dominican Republic and Donald Trump, Jr.,
the President’s travel to Mar-a-Lago
and the President’s adult children’s        Eric Trump, and their spouses traveled to the United Arab Emirates.
trips to certain overseas locations.        Documentation provided by Secret Service officials confirmed that the Trumps
                                                                                                                 th
GAO also reviewed the law, agency           and their spouses flew on commercial aircraft. Officials from the 89 Airlift Wing
guidance, and semiannual reports            confirmed that no military aircraft supported these trips. Secret Service agents
related to the Presidential Protection      protecting the Trump family flew by commercial aircraft.
Assistance Act of 1976.                     GAO found that, of the three agencies required to report by the Presidential
What GAO Recommends                         Protection Assistance Act of 1976, as amended, only the United States Coast
                                            Guard (Coast Guard) reported protection costs semiannually to Congress for
GAO is making recommendations to            fiscal years 2015 through 2017. GAO found that the Secret Service does not
the Secret Service and DOD to ensure        have a policy for ensuring that the semiannual reports are prepared and has not
that the reports required under the         consistently submitted the reports. Secret Service officials last submitted reports
Presidential Protection Assistance Act      in fiscal year 2015 and were unaware that reports had not been submitted in
of 1976, as amended, are prepared           fiscal years 2016 and 2017 until GAO requested this information. GAO also
and submitted. The Department of
                                            found that the Department of Defense (DOD) has a policy but did not produce
Homeland Security and DOD
                                            and submit the reports as required. Moreover, weaknesses in DOD’s existing
concurred with GAO’s
recommendations.
                                            policy and instruction do not clearly establish the responsibility for preparing and
                                            reporting the costs incurred to support protection activities. Absent clear policies
                                            with an oversight mechanism to ensure that the reports are produced, Congress
View GAO-19-178. For more information,      has not been provided required information concerning the costs for providing
contact Brian Lepore at (202) 512-4523 or
leporeb@gao.gov or Diana Maurer at (202)    protective services for the President and others.
512-9627or maurerd@gao.gov.


                                                                                                United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                    1
               Background                                                                 5
               Costs for the President’s Travel for Four Trips to Mar-a-Lago
                 Totaled about $13.6 Million                                             10
               Costs for the President’s Two Adult Children’s Travel to Uruguay,
                 the Dominican Republic, and the United Arab Emirates Totaled
                 about $396,000                                                          20
               Secret Service and DOD Have Not Reported Costs as Required
                 Under the Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976                23
               Conclusions                                                               26
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                      26
               Agency Comments                                                           27

Appendix I     Comments from the Department
               of Homeland Security                                                      30



Appendix II    Comments from the Department of Defense                                   33



Appendix III   GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments                                     35


Tables
               Table 1: Estimated Costs Incurred by Federal Agencies in Support
                       of the President’s Four Trips to Mar-a-Lago from February
                       3 – March 5, 2017                                                 12
               Table 2: Estimated DOD Costs Incurred in Support of the
                       President’s Four Trips to Mar-a-Lago from February 3 –
                       March 5, 2017                                                     13
               Table 3: Estimated DHS Costs Incurred in Support of the
                       President’s Four Trips to Mar-a-Lago from February 3 –
                       March 5, 2017                                                     16
               Table 4: Costs Incurred by the U.S. Secret Service to Support
                       Trips by the President’s Two Adult Children                       21

Figures
               Figure 1: Air Force One                                                    7
               Figure 2: Presidential Limousine Loaded for Transport.                    14

               Page i                                          GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Figure 3: Military Working Dog and Handler on Duty                                        15
Figure 4: Coast Guard Response Boat on Patrol                                             18




Abbreviations

Coast Guard                United States Coast Guard
DHS                        Department of Homeland Security
DOD                        Department of Defense
FBI                        Federal Bureau of Investigation
FTR                        Federal Travel Regulation
GSA                        General Services Administration
JTR                        Joint Travel Regulations
Secret Service             United States Secret Service



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Page ii                                                     GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                       Letter




441 G St. N.W.
Washington, DC 20548




                       January 17, 2019

                       The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
                       Ranking Member
                       Committee on the Judiciary
                       United States Senate

                       The Honorable Gary Peters
                       Ranking Member
                       Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
                       United States Senate

                       The Honorable Elijah E. Cummings
                       Chairman
                       Committee on Oversight and Reform
                       House of Representatives

                       The Honorable Jackie Speier
                       House of Representatives

                       The President of the United States must be ready to travel anywhere in
                       the world on a moment’s notice. The President flies on military aircraft
                       provided by the Department of Defense (DOD) on all trips, regardless of
                       the type of travel: official, political, or other non-official purposes.
                       Department of Justice memoranda have advised that when presidential
                       travel is for official purposes it is to be paid for with government funds,
                       and when it is for political purposes, appropriated funds cannot be used.
                       These memoranda also note that even though presidential travel may not
                       be official, there are certain individuals who are required, in the
                       performance of their official duties, to accompany the President when he
                       travels; therefore their costs are to be paid from appropriated funds. 1

                       The United States Secret Service (Secret Service) is responsible for
                       protecting the President and his family, including the adult children of the



                       1
                        See, White House Communications Agency Expenses Incurred on Political or Personal
                       Travel by the President, 14 Op. Off. Legal Counsel 144 (1990); Payment of Expenses
                       Associated with Travel by the President and Vice President, 6 Op. Off. Legal Counsel 214
                       (1982).



                       Page 1                                                    GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
President, unless they decline such protection. 2 At the request of the
Secret Service, assistance must be provided by other agencies, such as
DOD and the United States Coast Guard (Coast Guard). Under the
Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976, as amended, the Secret
Service does not reimburse DOD or the Coast Guard for assistance
provided on a temporary basis when the duties are directly related to the
protection of the President, the Vice President, or other officer
immediately next in order of succession to the office of the President. 3
Otherwise, all assistance that executive departments and agencies
provide to the Secret Service in the performance of its duties must be
reimbursed by the Secret Service.

We previously reported on certain costs of presidential travel during the
administrations of former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. 4 In
2016, we reported on travel costs for former President Obama for a 2013
trip to Chicago, Illinois, and West Palm Beach, Florida. In 2000, we
reported on total aircraft support costs for international trips taken by the
President, Vice President, and First Lady from January 1997 through
March 2000. Finally, we reported in 1999 on travel costs for former
President Clinton for international trips to Africa, Chile, and China.

You requested that we examine costs associated with the President’s four
trips to the Mar-a-Lago property in Palm Beach, Florida between
February 3, 2017 and March 5, 2017, and three international trips taken
by Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump in January and February 2017. This
report examines

1. the costs incurred by federal agencies associated with the President’s
   travel on selected trips to Mar-a-Lago from February to March 2017;

2
 18 U.S.C. § 3056. The Presidential Protection Division within the Secret Service is
responsible for providing twenty-four hour protection of the President of the United States
and other protectees. The Secret Service also provides personnel to staff protective
advance assignments for all local, domestic, and international travel. Staff responsible for
these assignments assess the overall security environment and implement security
procedures to ensure the safety of each protectee.
3
 Pub. L. No. 94-524, §§ 6, 8, 90 Stat. 2475, 2476 (1976) (as amended) (18 U.S.C. § 3056
note). Referred to in this report as “the Presidential Protection Assistance Act” or “the Act.”
4
  GAO, Presidential Travel: Costs and Accounting for the President’s Trips to Africa, Chile,
and China, GAO/NSIAD-99-164 (Washington, D.C.: Sept. 21, 1999); Presidential Travel:
DOD Airlift Cost for White House Foreign Travel, GAO/NSIAD-00-209 (Washington, D.C.:
Aug. 4, 2000); and Presidential Travel: Estimated Costs for a Specific Presidential Trip to
Illinois and Florida, GAO-17-24 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 11, 2016).



Page 2                                                         GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
2. the costs incurred by federal agencies associated with Donald Trump,
   Jr.’s and Eric Trump’s trips to Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, and
   the United Arab Emirates in January and February 2017; and
3. the extent to which the Coast Guard, Secret Service, and DOD have
   reported their costs for protection from fiscal year 2015 to 2017,
   pursuant to the Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976, as
   amended. 5
To address our first objective, we collected and reviewed data on agency
assets and personnel used in support of presidential travel that was
completed between February 3, 2017 and March 5, 2017. 6 Specifically,
we collected and analyzed operational cost data, including operating
hours and estimated operating costs, from the Air Force’s 89th Airlift Wing,
the 618th Air Operations Center, and Marine Corps Helicopter Squadron
One that were related to supporting the presidential airlift requirement,
including any supporting vehicles or equipment. We also obtained and
analyzed travel cost data, including per diem and other travel expenses,
for any Secret Service personnel and military personnel who supported
the President’s trips. Additionally, we collected and reviewed cost data
from agencies directly supporting the Secret Service during the
presidential travel completed between February 3, 2017 and March 5,
2017, such as the Coast Guard, Military Working Dog teams, and the
Explosive Ordnance Disposal team. We collected and reviewed available
travel data, to the extent it was provided to us, to account for the travel
costs of government officials on official travel at Mar-a-Lago during the
time frame of our audit. Although we collected the major, unclassified
travel-related costs that agencies incurred (hereafter referred to as costs),
we did not collect travel costs for officials from the Executive Office of the
President. Therefore, our totals represent an approximate amount spent

5
 Pub. L. No. 94-524, § 9. Reports are to be submitted to specified congressional
committees. The expenditure data required for these reports is not identical to the cost
information we obtained for the travel specified in our first two objectives, although some
of it may overlap. For example, the Presidential Protection Assistance Act addresses
expenditures for all protectees eligible to receive protection by the Secret Service, not just
the President.
6
 We report total costs for the four trips the President made between February 3, 2017 and
March 5, 2017. These costs also include advance costs incurred by the Secret Service,
Coast Guard, and DOD to establish security prior to the President’s arrival and necessary
costs incurred after the President’s departure. We are reporting the costs in aggregate
because of the close proximity of the trips. In some cases, we were not able to accurately
determine which trip some personnel were supporting based on available documentation.
In addition, the Coast Guard left assets in place for the second and third trip to reduce
travel costs; therefore we were not able to apportion these costs.



Page 3                                                        GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
for the four trips. We contacted White House Counsel’s Office in April
2017 and January 2018 to solicit information from the Executive Office of
the President related to coordinating travel for the President and any
costs associated with White House staff traveling with the President. As
of January 2019, the White House had not responded to our requests for
information. We also did not include certain classified cost information or
information about federal funds provided to local law enforcement by the
Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As we examined the costs incurred for the President’s travel, we did not
include the salaries and benefits, including overtime, of U.S. government
civilian and military personnel traveling with the President or involved with
agency travel preparations, since these personnel would have received
their salaries and benefits for the conduct of their regular duties and
responsibilities regardless of whether the President traveled. 7 We
reviewed laws, regulations, and policies to identify the rules and
processes governing agencies that support presidential travel and agency
costs on employee per diem and operational spaces for employees who
accompany the President when he is traveling domestically. We also
interviewed officials from DOD, the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS), and the Department of Justice.

To address our second objective, we collected and analyzed cost data
from the Secret Service and the Department of State in connection with
trips taken by Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump to the Dominican
Republic, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. Additionally, we
interviewed officials from the Secret Service and the Department of State
and reviewed relevant policies and guidance regarding reimbursement for
agencies that provide support to the Secret Service. We also obtained
documents and interviewed DOD officials concerning whether any DOD
aircraft had been used to support these overseas trips.

To address our third objective, we reviewed applicable laws, regulations,
and internal Coast Guard, Secret Service, and DOD policies related to the
preparation and submission of reports required by the Presidential
Protection Assistance Act. We also obtained and reviewed available
reports from the Coast Guard, Secret Service, and DOD from 2015
through 2017. We selected these three years because they included

7
 The operating cost per hour for Coast Guard boats and aircraft includes a factor for crew
salary that we were not able to separate out.



Page 4                                                      GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                      travel conducted in 2017 and they were the most recent years that would
                      have been available at the time of our review. We interviewed officials
                      from the Coast Guard, Secret Service, and DOD regarding the contents
                      and submission of these reports.

                      As part of this work, we assessed the reliability of DHS and DOD data by
                      interviewing officials to determine what mechanisms were in place to
                      ensure data quality, and we reviewed the data for obvious errors and
                      anomalies. We further conducted manual testing procedures such as
                      reviewing underlying documents for missing data, recreating calculations
                      to ensure that totals were correct, and matching selected cost data to
                      supporting documentation such as credit card statements and travel
                      vouchers. Based on these steps we determined the data to be sufficiently
                      reliable for our purposes.

                      We conducted this performance audit from April 2017 to January 2019 in
                      accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
                      Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain
                      sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our
                      findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that
                      the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and
                      conclusions based on our audit objectives.



Background
Agency Support of     Guidance governing executive agencies’ use of government aircraft
Presidential Travel   generally does not apply to aircraft in use by or in support of the
                      President. 8 Memorandum opinions to the White House from the
                      Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel have provided guidance
                      for categorizing expenses associated with official, political, and personal




                      8
                        See, e.g., OMB Circular No. A-126, Improving the Management and Use of Government
                      Aircraft (May 22, 1992) (excepting from its coverage aircraft while in use by or in support
                      of the President or Vice President).



                      Page 5                                                       GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
travel by the President or Vice President. 9 These memoranda provide that
certain individuals—such as Secret Service and military aides and
support personnel—are required in the performance of their official duties
to accompany the President whenever he travels. Further, the official
nature of the responsibilities performed by these persons does not
change depending upon whether the trip is official, political, or personal
and their expenses should generally be paid from public funds. 10

DOD organizations such as the Air Force 89th Air Wing, Presidential
Airlift Group, and Marine Helicopter Squadron One provide passenger
airlift for presidential travel (fig. 1). The Air Force Air Mobility Command
also provides aircraft to move equipment, such as limousines, to support
the President’s travel. The Military Working Dog Program and Explosive
Ordnance Disposal Program support protection of the President while he
is on travel by providing explosive detection capabilities.




9
 See e.g. White House Communications Agency Expenses Incurred on Political or
Personal Travel by the President, 14 Op. Off. Legal Counsel 144 (1990); Payment of
Expenses Associated with Travel by the President and Vice President, 6 Op. Off. Legal
Counsel 214 (1982). Previously, we reported that, according to an official in the Executive
Office of the President (from a prior administration), although memorandum opinions date
back to prior administrations, these memorandum opinions are intended to be general
guides for White House staff’s decision making about categorizing travel as for official,
political, or other non-official purposes. GAO-17-24. As noted above, during this review,
we also contacted White House Counsel’s Office to solicit current perspectives on these
issues, but the White House did not respond to our requests for information.
10
  These memoranda do not constitute procedures for planning and executing presidential
travel.



Page 6                                                      GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Figure 1: Air Force One




The Secret Service protects the President through a layered security plan
that includes securing locations the President will be visiting, as well as
physically screening individuals entering secure areas and conducting
background checks on individuals scheduled to be within close proximity
to the President, as deemed necessary. Secret Service personnel who
support presidential travel include personnel from the Presidential
Protection Division and from various headquarters divisions that support
protective operations, field offices across the country that provide
additional manpower, and the field office with jurisdiction over the
location. Additionally, the field office with jurisdiction over the location
provides logistical support, additional manpower, regional expertise, and
coordinates with state and local law enforcement entities. Consistent with
the Presidential Protection Assistance Act, the Secret Service requests
support from other agencies—including the Coast Guard and DOD—as
necessary when the President travels.

The Coast Guard primarily secures the waterways in support of protecting
the President, family members, and other designated protectees, as
necessary. Specifically, when requested by the Secret Service, the Coast
Guard will enforce security zones and provide air intercept capabilities for
protectees. Local assets are used to the extent that they are available.
However, the Coast Guard can request additional support from Coast
Guard assets across the nation to meet the security demand.

Page 7                                            GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Costs Related to      Costs related to presidential travel fall into two primary categories:
Presidential Travel
                      •    Operational costs include costs for assets used to transport or provide
                           protection for the President or spaces used for operational purposes.
                           These include costs for government aircraft and vehicles, such as Air
                           Force One, Marine One, airlift, patrol boats, and hotel rooms used as
                           command centers. 11
                      •    Temporary duty costs are costs incurred for personnel who are
                           traveling on official business. 12 These costs include those for
                           transportation, lodging, meals and incidental expenses and other
                           travel-related expenses for personnel supporting the President’s
                           trips. 13 They also include travel-related expenses for personnel who
                           operate the government aircraft and vehicles used to support the
                           President’s trips and Secret Service agents who provide protection.
                           They include the costs for additional personnel who provide bomb
                           detection and disposal capability—military working dog teams and
                           explosive ordinance disposal teams—and support personnel from the
                           White House Military Office, the White House Communications
                           Agency, and the White House Transportation Agency.
                      Two regulations implement statutory requirements and executive branch
                      policies for travel, allowing agencies to pay for or reimburse their
                      employees’ per diem expenses (lodging, meals, and incidentals
                      expenses) and other travel-related expenses:




                      11
                       We did not include classified costs and did not include costs associated with salaries
                      and benefits for Secret Service and DOD personnel. The operating cost per hour for Coast
                      Guard boats and aircraft includes a factor for crew salary that we were not able to
                      separate out.
                      12
                        See FTR § 301-1.3 (explaining when employees are eligible for temporary duty
                      allowances) and JTR 0301 (explaining routine temporary duty travel). The Secret Service
                      may pay per diem expenses of employees who are on protective missions, whether at or
                      away from their duty stations. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017, Pub. L. No. 115-31,
                      div. F, tit. II, 131 Stat. 135, 410; Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-
                      141, div. F, tit. II.
                      13
                        Meals and incidental expenses include a set daily (or per diem) amount to cover the cost
                      of meals, including taxes and tips, as well as fees and tips given to porters, baggage
                      carriers, hotel staff, and staff on ships. Other travel-related expenses include such things
                      as baggage fees, internet fees, taxi fares, and parking.



                      Page 8                                                       GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
•      The Federal Travel Regulation (FTR), issued by the General
       Services Administration (GSA), applies to Secret Service personnel. 14
•      The Joint Travel Regulations (JTR), issued by the Department of
       Defense, apply to DOD personnel. 15
Both regulations allow agencies to pay for employees’ daily expenses
when they travel, based on allowances set by GSA for the applicable
location and date (per diem rates) or the actual expense of travel. 16 Under
the FTR, the maximum amount that a civilian employee may be
reimbursed is 300 percent of the applicable per diem rate. 17 The JTR
allows uniformed service members to be reimbursed up to 300 percent
when they travel in the continental United States, but they can be
reimbursed more than 300 percent of the per diem rate for lodging when
they travel outside the continental United States. 18

Costs for each presidential trip may vary, because each trip is unique.
Costs associated with each trip can be influenced by a number of factors,
mainly the location, number of protectees, foreign visitors, time of year,
the protectee’s schedule of events, and the airlift requirements—including

14
  The FTR, issued by the General Services Administration, applies to most federal
employees. See 5 U.S.C. § 5707 (authorizing the General Services Administration to
issue travel regulations). The FTR is found at 41 C.F.R. chs. 300-304. Following the time
frame for the trips that we reviewed, on May 5, 2017, the Consolidated Appropriations Act,
2017 provided authority to the Secret Service to pay per diem travel expenses (i.e.,
lodging and meals and incidental expenses) of employees on protective missions without
regard to the General Services Administration’s reimbursement rates for federal employee
travel. Pub. L. No. 115-31, div. F., tit. II. This language also appears in the Consolidated
Appropriations Act, 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-141, div. F., tit. II.
15
  The JTR, issued by DOD, are applicable to uniformed service members and DOD
civilian employees (referred to as DOD personnel in this report). For DOD civilian
employees, the JTR incorporates elements of the FTR and regulate per diem and travel
allowances, among other things.
16
   FTR pt. 301-11; JTR 020301, 020307, 0318. Payment under the actual expense method
is permitted for a variety of reasons, such as costs escalating due to special events (e.g.,
sporting events or disasters) or because of mission requirements. FTR § 301-11.300; JTR
020307. The General Services Administration sets per diem rates for travel within the
continental United States, DOD establishes per diem rates for overseas non-foreign
areas, and the Department of State does so for foreign overseas locations. The General
Services Administration per diem rate for the West Palm Beach area, which includes Mar-
a-Lago, from January 2017 to March 2017, was $182 for lodging and $59 for meals and
incidental expenses.
17
     FTR §§ 301-11.30(a), 301-11.303, 301-11.305.
18
     JTR 020307.



Page 9                                                       GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                          the originating location of airlift flights. The combination of these factors
                          can increase or decrease the cost to transport and protect the President.
                          Specifically, an increase in the number of protectees, including foreign
                          dignitaries, would require the Secret Service to deploy additional
                          personnel to support its protective operations.


Presidential Protection   The Presidential Protection Assistance Act establishes procedures and
Assistance Act of 1976    reporting requirements for protective services provided by the Secret
                          Service. The primary aim of the legislation was to strengthen control over
                          costs for protective services, particularly at non-governmental properties,
                          by centralizing in the Secret Service authority and accountability for such
                          costs. 19 The Act continues the authority of executive departments and
                          agencies to assist the Secret Service in meeting its protective
                          responsibilities but specifies that protective services may only be provided
                          at the request of the Secret Service and must be on a reimbursable basis
                          except when temporary support is provided by DOD and the Coast Guard
                          and is directly related to protecting the President, Vice President, or an
                          officer immediately next in the order of succession to the office of the
                          President. The Act further requires that the Secret Service, DOD, and the
                          Coast Guard submit semiannual reports in March and September to six
                          congressional committees on expenditures pursuant to the Act.


                          For the President’s four trips to Mar-a-Lago from February 3, 2017 to
Costs for the             March 5, 2017, we estimate that federal agencies incurred costs of about
President’s Travel for    $13.6 million. As shown in table 1, these costs consisted of approximately
                          $10.6 million for operating costs and $3.0 million for temporary duty costs.
Four Trips to Mar-a-      DOD and DHS incurred the majority of these costs—about $8.5 million
Lago Totaled about        and $5.1 million, respectively. As previously mentioned, these figures do
                          not include certain classified cost information. Moreover, they do not
$13.6 Million             include the salaries and benefits of U.S. government civilian and military
                          personnel traveling with the President or involved with agency travel
                          preparations, because these personnel would have received their salaries


                          19
                             Among other things, the Act authorizes the Secret Service to provide security on a
                          permanent basis at one non-governmental property designated by a protectee and also
                          places a limitation on the expenditure of funds for maintaining a permanent guard detail or
                          for permanent facilities, equipment, or services to secure a non-governmental property in
                          addition to the designated property; these expenditures cannot exceed $200,000 per
                          property, unless specifically approved by resolutions adopted by the House and Senate
                          Appropriations Committees. Pub. L. No. 94-524, §§ 3-4 (as amended).



                          Page 10                                                     GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
and benefits for the conduct of their regular duties and responsibilities
regardless of whether the President traveled.

We identified about $60,000 in expenses paid to Mar-a-Lago for these
four trips. 20 DOD lodging expenses of about $24,000 were within GSA
limits of 300 percent of the per diem rate. DHS expenses of about
$36,000 were for space required by the Secret Service for operational
purposes. The legal authorities that the Secret Service relied on to pay for
these kinds of rooms do not limit how much the agency can pay;
however, none of the rooms used to meet operational security standards
exceeded the maximum allowed under the FTR’s actual expense
reimbursement method. 21




20
  We were not able to identify meals and incidental expenses, if any, that may have been
incurred at the Mar-a-Lago club. DHS and DOD employees on these trips were
reimbursed for meals and incidental expenses in accordance with General Services
Administration per diem rates, which is a daily payment instead of reimbursement for
actual expenses. Applicable travel regulations do not require them to submit receipts for
reimbursement of individual expenses under $75.
21
  The FTR provides that payment for miscellaneous expenses—including the hire of a
conference center or a hotel room for official business—may be made when authorized by
the agency and under the agency’s governing policy. FTR §§ 301-12.1, 301-70.301. In
addition, according to the Secret Service Counsel, the Secret Service had relied on a
1982 GAO decision that provides that an agency may rent accommodations that cost
more than applicable limitations where (a) use of the particular accommodations is an
integral part of the employee’s job assignment, and (b) failure to provide such
accommodations would frustrate the ability of the Agency to carry out its statutory
mandate. B-209375, Dec. 7, 1982. By statute, GAO’s authority to adjudicate these kinds
of claims as they relate to lodging rooms was transferred to GSA, among other agencies,
in 1996. Following the time frame for the trips that we reviewed, on May 5, 2017, the
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 provided authority to the Secret Service to pay per
diem travel expenses of employees on protective missions without regard to GSA’s
reimbursement rates. Pub. L. No. 115-31,131 Stat. at 410. Therefore, since May 2017, the
Secret Service has not been subject to regulatory caps on room rental, regardless of the
purpose of the room.



Page 11                                                    GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Table 1: Estimated Costs Incurred by Federal Agencies in Support of the President’s Four Trips to Mar-a-Lago from February
3 – March 5, 2017

Figures are in thousands of fiscal year 2017 dollars

                                                                                Operational               Temporary duty                       Total travel
                                                                                          a                            b
                                                                                    costs                         costs                              costs
Department of Defense                                                                   7,499                            969                          8,468
Department of Homeland Security                                                         3,050                          2,022                          5,071
                             c
Other agency travel                                                                         18                             10                             29
Total travel costs                                                                     10,567                          3,001                         13,568
Source: GAO analysis of agency data. | GAO-19-178

                                                    Notes: Total costs exclude classified costs. Personnel salaries and benefits are not included in these
                                                    figures because they would have been paid regardless of whether the President traveled. Numbers
                                                    may not sum to totals due to rounding.
                                                    a
                                                     Operational costs include (1) costs for the operating government owned aircraft that we estimated by
                                                    using the average cost per flight hour and the actual flight hours for each specific aircraft type as
                                                    reported by the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard; (2) costs for operating government owned
                                                    boats that we estimated by using the average cost per operating hour and the actual hours used for
                                                    each specific boat type as reported by the Coast Guard; and (3) expenses incurred for operational
                                                    space and equipment rentals (i.e. golf carts, tents, lighting, generators, etc.) as reported by the Secret
                                                    Service.
                                                    b
                                                     Temporary duty costs include expenses incurred for commercial airfare, lodging, meals and
                                                    incidental expenses, and other related expenses such as rental vehicles, gas for rental vehicles, and
                                                    baggage fees.
                                                    c
                                                     Other agency travel information includes information from the Departments of Justice and State to
                                                    account for travel costs for Cabinet members on official travel, their supporting staff, and agency staff
                                                    directly supporting the President’s travel to Mar-a-Lago.




Costs Incurred by DOD                               DOD incurred an estimated $8.5 million in costs to provide support for the
                                                    President’s four trips to Mar-a-Lago from February 3, 2017 to March 5,
                                                    2017, as shown in table 2 below. The majority of these costs were
                                                    operational costs for DOD assets, specifically, for operating Air Force
                                                    One and Marine Corps One to transport the President, as well as airlift
                                                    support from the Air Mobility Command.




                                                    Page 12                                                               GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Table 2: Estimated DOD Costs Incurred in Support of the President’s Four Trips to Mar-a-Lago from February 3 – March 5,
2017

Figures are in thousands of fiscal year 2017 dollars

                                                                             Operational               Temporary duty                      Total travel
                                                                                       a                            b
                                                                                 costs                         costs                             costs
Department of Defense (DOD)
Air Mobility Command                                                                 3,202                                -                        3,202
89th Air Wing                                                                        4,239                            131                          4,369
U.S. Marine Corps                                                                        24                           206                            230
Military working dog program                                                               -                          124                            124
Explosive ordnance disposal                                                                -                          239                            239
White House Military Office                                                              35                           269                            304
DOD subtotal                                                                         7,499                            969                          8,468
Source: GAO analysis of DOD data. | GAO-19-178

                                                 Notes: Costs exclude classified information. Personnel salaries and benefits are not included in these
                                                 figures because they would have been paid regardless of whether the President traveled. “-” indicates
                                                 categories for which no related costs could be identified. Numbers may not sum to totals due to
                                                 rounding.
                                                 a
                                                  Operational costs include costs for the operating government owned aircraft that we estimated by
                                                 using the average cost per flight hour and the actual flight hours for each specific aircraft type, as
                                                 reported by the Air Force and Marine Corps.
                                                 b
                                                  Temporary duty costs include expenses incurred for commercial airfare, lodging, meals and
                                                 incidental expenses, and other related expenses such as rental vehicles, gas for rental vehicles, and
                                                 baggage fees.


                                                 Table 2 shows the estimated costs incurred by DOD for these trips. The
                                                 cost per flying hour for military aircraft is a significant cost driver that
                                                 affects the overall costs of any presidential travel. These costs are
                                                 predominately borne by the Air Force and the Marine Corps, because
                                                 they operate the aircraft used by the President. Generally, Air Force One
                                                 costs represent the operating costs to fly the President from Joint Base
                                                 Andrews, Maryland, to Palm Beach, Florida. Similarly, the Marine Corps
                                                 One costs represent the operating costs to fly the President between the
                                                 White House and Joint Base Andrews. For the airlift support
                                                 requirements, the Air Mobility Command used aircraft departing from
                                                 various U.S. Air Force bases. These aircraft arrived at Joint Base
                                                 Andrews or Marine Corps Base Quantico to transport Secret Service
                                                 personnel and vehicles and Marine Corps personnel and helicopters to
                                                 support the trip before returning to their air base of origin (see fig. 2).




                                                 Page 13                                                               GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Figure 2: Presidential Limousine Loaded for Transport.




DOD also incurred temporary duty costs for DOD personnel who
supported these trips, including the travel associated with the aircrews
and support personnel for Air Force One and Marine Corps One. Each of
the military services also provided military working dog teams (see fig. 3)
and explosive ordnance disposal teams to provide explosive detection
and disposal capabilities and to perform patrol functions.




Page 14                                                  GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                        Figure 3: Military Working Dog and Handler on Duty




                        Finally, personnel from the White House Military Office incurred travel
                        expenses associated with the President’s trips. 22 For these four trips, the
                        majority of DOD personnel stayed at nearby hotels with rooms at the GSA
                        rate or within 300 percent of the GSA per diem rate, as required by the
                        FTR and JTR. DOD paid $24,414.70 to Mar-a-Lago for lodging expenses
                        for DOD personnel. 23 We reviewed lodging receipts and confirmed that
                        these payments were within 300 percent of the GSA per diem rate.


Costs Incurred by DHS   DHS incurred an estimated $5.1 million in costs to provide support for the
                        President’s four trips to Mar-a-Lago from February 3, 2017 to March 5,
                        2017. Of this figure, the Secret Service incurred about $1.6 million to

                        22
                           Personnel from the White House Communications Agency and the White House
                        Transportation Agency—components of the White House Military Office—participated in
                        these trips.
                        23
                         According to White House Military Office officials, the common areas of this lodging
                        space were used for operational purposes.



                        Page 15                                                    GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                                                 provide support. This included per diem and other related travel
                                                 expenses, such as commercial airfare or use of rental cars for officials
                                                 traveling in advance of the President. We identified about $35,750 in
                                                 expenses for operational space at Mar-a-Lago for these four trips. Table 3
                                                 shows the estimated costs incurred by the Secret Service and the Coast
                                                 Guard for these trips.

Table 3: Estimated DHS Costs Incurred in Support of the President’s Four Trips to Mar-a-Lago from February 3 – March 5,
2017
Figures are in thousands of fiscal year 2017 dollars

Department of Homeland                                                      Operational              Temporary duty                     Total travel
                                                                                      a                           b
Security (DHS)                                                                  costs                        costs                            costs
U.S. Secret Service                                                                    94                         1,549                         1,643
U.S. Coast Guard                                                                    2,956                           467                         3,422
Secretary of DHS                                                                         -                             6                             6
DHS subtotal                                                                        3,050                         2,022                         5,071
Source: GAO analysis of DHS data. | GAO-19-178

                                                 Notes: Personnel salaries and benefits are not included in these figures because they would have
                                                 been paid regardless of whether the President traveled.
                                                 a
                                                  Operational costs include (1) costs for the operating government owned aircraft that we estimated by
                                                 using the average cost per flight hour and the actual flight hours for each specific aircraft type, as
                                                 reported by the Coast Guard; (2) costs for operating government-owned boats that we estimated by
                                                 using the average cost per operating hour and the actual hours used for each specific boat type, as
                                                 reported by the Coast Guard; and (3) expenses incurred for operational space and equipment rentals
                                                 (i.e. golf carts, tents, lighting, generators, etc.), as reported by the Secret Service.
                                                 b
                                                  Temporary duty costs include expenses incurred for commercial airfare, lodging, meals and
                                                 incidental expenses, and other related expenses such as rental vehicles, gas for rental vehicles, and
                                                 baggage fees.


Secret Service’s Costs and                       The majority of costs incurred by the Secret Service were temporary duty
Resources                                        costs associated with travel to protect the President. The number of
                                                 agents assigned to the protective detail for each trip varied based on the
                                                 number of protectees present (including foreign dignitaries) and unrelated
                                                 events at the same location.

                                                 To execute the four trips, the Secret Service leveraged support from
                                                 across the agency and field offices across the country to implement
                                                 protective operations for the President’s travel. Agents were assigned as

                                                 •    part of the protective detail—providing twenty-four hour protection for
                                                      the President or other protectee;
                                                 •    members of the advance team—determining and implementing the
                                                      security plan for the site; or

                                                 Page 16                                                            GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                          •    on-site support throughout the duration of the visit.
                          For example, agents from the Secret Service’s Presidential Protective
                          Division, Uniformed Division, and Technical Security Division, among
                          others, traveled in advance of the President to assess the location and
                          develop and implement a security plan. Further, agents from Secret
                          Service field offices across the country provided additional manpower at
                          Mar-a-Lago and supported the Presidential Protection Division within the
                          Office of Protective Operations —which holds primary responsibility for
                          the daily protection of the President—in ensuring that the location
                          remained safe for the President and other protectees.

                          The majority of agents who supported the four trips during our time frame
                          did not stay at Mar-a-Lago. 24 The Secret Service booked a limited number
                          of rooms around the President to meet operational security
                          requirements. 25 According to officials, these rooms allowed the Secret
                          Service to provide 360-degree protection around the President. For these
                          four trips, most Secret Service agents stayed at nearby hotels at which
                          rooms were at the GSA lodging rate or within 300 percent of the GSA per
                          diem rate, consistent with the FTR.

Coast Guard’s Costs and   The Coast Guard incurred about $3.4 million in costs to provide support
Resources                 for the four trips to Mar-a-Lago. The majority of these costs were
                          operational costs for Coast Guard assets, specifically, the use of small
                          response boats, special purpose law enforcement boats, deployable
                          rotary wing aircraft, and marine protection-class cutters to provide support
                          in waterways near Mar-a-Lago (see fig. 4). For the Coast Guard,
                          operating costs are determined by the type of boat or aircraft used and
                          the hourly operating costs. 26




                          24
                             Agents traveling from outside of the local area generally incurred costs associated with
                          transportation (i.e., flights), meals, incidentals, and lodging during their assignment.
                          Agents from regional field offices who provided support did not incur transportation costs
                          (other than rental cars, for example) but did incur costs associated with meals, incidentals,
                          and lodging during their assignment.
                          25
                           During the four trips discussed in our review, Secret Service personnel incurred
                          expenses for operational purposes at Mar-a-Lago of about $35,750.
                          26
                           The Coast Guard’s operating cost calculations include direct costs (labor, fuel,
                          maintenance, etc.); support costs; and general and administrative costs.



                          Page 17                                                      GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Figure 4: Coast Guard Response Boat on Patrol




According to Coast Guard officials, to the extent possible, they request
support from assets that they determine are within close proximity to the
travel location. For the four Mar-a-Lago trips, support was requested from
the local Miami sector, Kings Bay (Georgia), New Orleans (Louisiana),
Houston (Texas), Boston (Massachusetts), and New York (New York).

The Coast Guard incurred other travel-related costs, such as for meals
and incidental expenses and lodging for officials on temporary duty
assignment to support the President’s travel. Coast Guard officials noted
that, if possible, personnel are to stay on the asset (for example a boat);
however, if this is not possible, they are to stay in nearby lodging at or
within 300 percent of the GSA per diem rate. Coast Guard officials




Page 18                                           GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                               confirmed that personnel supporting presidential travel for these four trips
                               did not stay at Mar-a-Lago. 27

Costs for the Secretary of     The Department of Homeland Security incurred costs of about $6,000 in
Homeland Security’s Travel     connection with the Secretary of Homeland Security and staff’s travel to
                               Mar-a-Lago on March 4, 2017. Costs included transportation to and from
                               Mar-a-Lago and per diem expenses (meals and incidental expenses).
                               According to DHS officials, agents supporting the protection of the
                               Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security were multi-staffed and
                               protected other protectees at the same time. Therefore, travel costs for
                               personnel associated with the Secretary’s protective detail are captured in
                               the overall travel costs for this trip. No lodging costs were incurred at Mar-
                               a-Lago in connection with the Secretary of Homeland Security’s travel.


Additional Costs by Other      The Department of Justice and the Department of State incurred costs of
Agencies for Official Travel   about $29,000 for official travel to Mar-a-Lago during these four trips. 28
                               The Department of Justice incurred costs of about $18,000 to transport
                               the Attorney General, his Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) detail, and
                               three Department of Justice personnel to Mar-a-Lago for one trip. The
                               operational costs were for the FBI Gulfstream 550 used to transport the
                               officials from the Washington, D.C. area to West Palm Beach, Florida and
                               back. 29 The Department of Justice provided documentation that no
                               Department of Justice or FBI personnel had per diem expenses, since the




                               27
                                 The costs for one room at Mar-a-Lago during the scope of this engagement were not
                               incurred as part of Coast Guard presidential security support. These costs were incurred
                               by a Coast Guard member who was assigned to the National Security Council staff. As
                               stated earlier, we do not otherwise have cost information associated with White House
                               staff.
                               28
                                  Official travel is defined as travel to meet mission requirements, required use travel, and
                               other travel for the conduct of agency business.
                               29
                                  Certain high-level government officials, such as the Attorney General and the FBI
                               Director, are presidentially designated as “required use travelers” for all of their travel and
                               thus travel aboard Department of Justice or other government aircraft, including for
                               personal purposes, even though it may be more costly than the price of comparable
                               common carrier flights. Required use is travel by an executive agency officer or employee,
                               where the use of government aircraft is required for bona fide communications or security
                               needs of the agency or exceptional scheduling requirements. Agencies may also
                               designate officials as required use travelers on a trip-by-trip basis. OMB Circular A-
                               126(5)(d); FTR § 300-3.1.



                               Page 19                                                        GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                        trip was less than 12 hours. 30 In addition, the Department of State
                        incurred costs of about $10,000 to provide interpreter support and
                        protocol officials associated with the President’s trip to Mar-a-Lago in
                        February 2017 when the Prime Minister of Japan was a guest. 31


                        The Secret Service incurred costs of approximately $396,000, primarily
Costs for the           for Secret Service agents’ temporary duty costs, while protecting Donald
President’s Two Adult   Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, and their spouses during three international trips
                        taken during January and February 2017, as shown in table 4 below. Eric
Children’s Travel to    Trump traveled to Uruguay from January 3, 2017 to January 5, 2017 and
Uruguay, the            the Dominican Republic from February 2, 2017 to February 3 2017.
                        Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, and their spouses traveled to the United
Dominican Republic,     Arab Emirates from February 14, 2017 to February 19, 2017. The Secret
and the United Arab     Service protects presidential family members domestically and
                        internationally. Children of the President with a protective detail are
Emirates Totaled        required to receive protection twenty-four hours a day, and agents who
about $396,000          are part of their detail travel with them wherever they go. 32




                        30
                         FTR § 301-11.1 provides that federal employees are eligible for per diem or actual
                        expenses when, among other requirements, they are in a travel status for more than 12
                        hours.
                        31
                           Department of State costs include the contract cost for one translator and the temporary
                        duty costs associated with an additional Department of State translator and personnel
                        from the Chief of Protocol’s office that supported the trip. Based on our review of available
                        documents, Department of State personnel did not incur lodging costs at Mar-a-Lago for
                        this trip.
                        32
                          Children of the President, known as First Children, ages 16 and over can decline
                        protection.



                        Page 20                                                       GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Table 4: Costs Incurred by the U.S. Secret Service to Support Trips by the President’s Two Adult Children

Figures are in thousands of fiscal year 2017 dollars

                                                                                 Operational                   Temporary duty                        Total travel
                                                                                           a                                b                                   c
                                                                                     costs                             costs                              costs
 Uruguay                                                                                    9                                 146                             156
 Dominican Republic                                                                         4                                  26                                 30
 United Arab Emirates                                                                      18                                 192                             211
 Total                                                                                     31                                 364                             396
Source: GAO analysis of Secret Service and State Department data. | GAO-19-178

                                                              Note: Personnel salaries and benefits are generally not included in these figures because they would
                                                              have been paid regardless of whether the adult children traveled. However, salaries for foreign
                                                              national employees are included because the Secret Service reimbursed the State Department for
                                                              these costs. Numbers may not sum to totals due to rounding.
                                                              a
                                                               Operational costs include the cost of government vehicles, other support equipment, and foreign
                                                              national employees provided by the State Department. According to officials from the 89th Airlift
                                                              Wing, no military aircraft were used to support these trips.
                                                              b
                                                               Temporary duty costs include expenses incurred by government officials for commercial airfare,
                                                              lodging, meals and incidental expenses, and other related expenses such as rental vehicles, gas for
                                                              rental vehicles, and baggage fees.
                                                              c
                                                               According to Secret Service and State Department officials, the costs incurred by the State
                                                              Department are reimbursed by the Secret Service in accordance with the Presidential Protection
                                                              Assistance Act of 1976, Pub. L. No. 94-524, 90 Stat. 2475-77 (1976) (as amended) (18 U.S.C. § 3056
                                                              note). The Secret Service reimbursed the State Department a total of about $217,000 for the three
                                                              trips.


                                                              For international travel, because there are no local Secret Service field
                                                              offices in most countries, the Department of State supports the Secret
                                                              Service by booking and paying for all hotel reservations required by
                                                              Secret Service and State Department personnel and coordinating onsite
                                                              needs. 33 This includes, but is not limited to, acquiring rental cars, phones,
                                                              and interpreters at the trip’s destination. Transportation for individuals in
                                                              foreign offices is booked in a variety of ways. For example, agents may
                                                              book their own flights, flights may be booked by a contracted agency, or
                                                              sometimes the local embassy may assist in booking transportation. Meals
                                                              and incidental expenses are reimbursed to the traveler. 34 The Secret
                                                              Service and the Department of State have implemented a memorandum
                                                              33
                                                                 The Secret Service has international field offices in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, the
                                                              Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, among others. Agents from the Rome, Italy office
                                                              supported the trip to the United Arab Emirates.
                                                              34
                                                               During the time frame for the three international trips, the maximum per diem rate was
                                                              $389 for Uruguay, $276 for the Dominican Republic, and $553 for the United Arab
                                                              Emirates. These amounts include allowances for lodging and meals and incidental
                                                              expenses.



                                                              Page 21                                                            GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
of understanding detailing their respective roles and responsibilities and,
as required by law, the Secret Service is to reimburse the Department of
State for all costs incurred in support of the Secret Service’s protective
operations. 35

Documentation provided by the Secret Service confirmed that Donald
Trump Jr., Eric Trump and their spouses flew on commercial aircraft.
Officials from the 89th Airlift Wing confirmed that no military aircraft
supported these trips. Secret Service agents protecting the Trump family
flew by commercial aircraft. 36 Additionally, reimbursement documentation
provided by both the State Department and the Secret Service confirmed
that no costs were incurred for chartered air travel.

As with all protective missions, Secret Service officials noted that the
number of agents assigned to the detail depended on the number of
protectees and the threat environment, among other things. The trips to
the Dominican Republic and Uruguay each included only one protectee,
and the trip to the United Arab Emirates included four protectees.




35
  Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976, Pub. L. No. 94-524, §§ 6, 8. Operational
costs incurred by the State Department include providing government vehicles, gas and
oil, office equipment, and cell phone rentals, among other things. The Secret Service
reimbursed the State Department a total of about $217,000 for the three trips. This
included $111,000 for the trip to Uruguay, $12,000 for the trip to the Dominican Republic,
and $94,000 for the trip to the United Arab Emirates.
36
  Commercial air transportation expenses incurred were for agents flying as part of a
protective detail.



Page 22                                                     GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                        For fiscal years 2015 through 2017 we found that, of the three agencies
Secret Service and      required to report costs incurred for protecting the President and others
DOD Have Not            under the Presidential Protection Assistance Act, only the Coast Guard
                        reported semiannually on costs under the Act. 37 The Secret Service did
Reported Costs as       not do so consistently, and DOD did not report any protection costs
Required Under the      during this time frame.
Presidential            Coast Guard: The Coast Guard submitted the semiannual reports
Protection Assistance   required under the Act for fiscal years 2015 through 2017. To facilitate
                        complying with the Presidential Protection Assistance Act, the Coast
Act of 1976             Guard developed and implemented a policy for preparing the semiannual
                        reports to Congress. The policy contains business rules identifying what
                        information is to be collected and by whom, who is responsible for
                        compiling the information, and time frames for when the information is to
                        be submitted internally. For example, the Coast Guard operationalized
                        collection of this information by requiring a form to be used when
                        collecting information related to protective details for the Vice President
                        and the President. Its internal policy and additional guidance also require
                        that information be submitted internally no more than 14 days after each
                        event and validated no more than 30 days after each event. 38 According
                        to agency officials, these business rules and forms are published and
                        provided to all Coast Guard field units, and quarterly reminders about
                        completing the forms are disseminated via email.

                        Secret Service: The Secret Service has not consistently submitted the
                        semiannual reports to Congress and does not have a policy for ensuring
                        that the semiannual reports are prepared. Specifically, we found that the
                        Secret Service submitted semiannual reports to Congress in 2015 but
                        had not submitted semiannual reports for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The
                        Secret Service notified us that it was compiling and submitting reports for

                        37
                          The Presidential Protection Assistance Act requires the Secret Service, Coast Guard,
                        and DOD to submit a detailed semiannual report of expenditures made under the Act for
                        the 6-month period preceding the report to the Committees on Appropriations,
                        Committees on the Judiciary, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,
                        and Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on March 31 and
                        September 30 of each year. Pub. L. No. 94-524, § 9. In May 1978, we reviewed fiscal year
                        1977 reports submitted by the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, and DOD and determined
                        that there were several problems with the Act’s implementation. See GAO, Review of the
                        Reimbursement and Reporting Requirement of the Presidential Protection Assistance Act
                        of 1976, GGD-78-75 (Washington, D.C.: May. 22, 1978).
                        38
                         Employment of Coast Guard Resources in Support of the United States Secret Service
                        and Other Protective Details, COMDTINST 16202.7A, (September 29, 2015).



                        Page 23                                                   GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
fiscal year 2017 after we had brought the reporting requirement to
officials’ attention during the course of our review. Secret Service officials
told us that they were unaware that the reports for 2016 and 2017 had not
been submitted until we requested this information.

According to Secret Service officials, the division that is responsible for
preparing and submitting the reports to Congress experienced a transition
in leadership during the period when there was the lapse in reporting.
Specifically, management and the personnel responsible for preparing
and submitting the reports to Congress were no longer with the agency in
2016 and therefore could not brief incoming management hired in 2017.
According to officials, this contributed to a reporting lapse. Standards for
Internal Control in the Federal Government states that management
should implement control activities through policies, for example, by
documenting responsibilities for each unit. 39 Control activities are the
policies, procedures, techniques, and mechanisms that enforce
management’s directives to achieve the entity’s objectives. Further,
management should also define objectives clearly to enable the
identification of risks and define risk tolerances. This would include
defining objectives in specific terms so they are understood at all levels
and can be carried out without regard to personnel changes. This further
involves clearly defining what is to be achieved, who is to achieve it, how
it will be achieved, and the time frames for realizing the achievement.
Establishing a policy defining requirements for producing the semiannual
reports to Congress—including what is to be reported, the entity
responsible for preparing and submitting the reports, and reporting time
frames—and an oversight mechanism to ensure that the reports are
prepared and submitted to Congress, may better position the Secret
Service to consistently report required expenditure data to specified
congressional committees as required.

DOD: DOD has issued a policy related to collecting information on its
support for the Secret Service’s protective duties but has not produced
and submitted the required reports to Congress in accordance with its
policy. 40 DOD officials were unaware that the reports had not been
39
   GAO, Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government, GAO-14-704G
(Washington, D.C., September 2014).
40
   Department of Defense Directive 3025.13 – Employment of DOD Capabilities in Support
of the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS). (Oct. 10,
2010); and Department of Defense Instruction 3025.19 - Procedures for Sharing
Information with and Providing Support to the U.S. Secret Service, Department of
Homeland Security (DHS), (Nov. 29, 2011; change 1 Mar. 13, 2017).



Page 24                                                  GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
submitted until we requested them. According to DOD officials, the
reports were not submitted as a result of an administrative oversight, and
they could not determine when the reports had last been submitted.

This situation is in part the result of weaknesses in DOD’s existing policy
and implementing instruction with regard to specific information that could
help ensure the reports are consistently produced and provided to
Congress. For example, the policy requires that any DOD organization
incurring costs associated with support provided to the Secret Service
collect and report the costs to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for
Homeland Defense and Global Security, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff, and the Chief Financial Officer. However, neither the policy nor
underlying instruction sets forth time frames for internal or external
reporting to ensure that the semiannual dates are met. Further, DOD has
no mechanism for ensuring that the required information is submitted to
Congress.

As previously noted, internal control standards require that management
should implement control activities through policies and define objectives
clearly to enable the identification of risks and define risk tolerances. This
involves clearly defining what is to be achieved, who is to achieve it, how
it will be achieved, and the time frames for realizing the achievement.
Moreover, the policies, procedures, techniques, and mechanisms that
enforce management’s directives to achieve the entity’s objectives are to
be defined.

According to a DOD official, in March 2018 the department began efforts
to gather the information necessary to prepare the required report.
However, collecting the information has been challenging, largely due to
the multiple data sources and inconsistent methods for capturing the data
to date. Therefore, according to DOD officials, once the department
completes its initial data collection effort, officials plan to assess the
adequacy of the data and review DOD’s existing guidance to identify
revisions needed to ensure that future reports are submitted in
accordance with Presidential Protection Assistance Act. However, the
agency has not yet defined the steps necessary to fulfill near-term
reporting requirements under the Act, or time frames for doing so. By
addressing these issues, DOD could be better positioned to comply with
the law.

Further, while DOD officials anticipate updating the policy and instruction
at a future date, steps and time frames for completing the update have
not yet been defined, and it is unclear when or whether the updates will

Page 25                                             GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                      occur. Updating DOD’s policy and instruction to specify the requirements
                      and establish an oversight mechanism may better position DOD to report
                      expenditure data to Congress, as required, on a semiannual basis and
                      enhance visibility over the costs associated with providing protective
                      services, in particular in relation to protection at nongovernmental
                      properties.


                      The Secret Service, with help from the Coast Guard and DOD, plays a
Conclusions           vital role in protecting the President during his travels. The Presidential
                      Protection Assistance Act was intended to establish procedures to control
                      the expenditure of federal funds for protection at nongovernmental
                      properties; it requires that each of these entities report expenditures
                      under the Act. The Secret Service, the Coast Guard, and DOD have all
                      incurred costs related to protection for the President and others.
                      However, information on such costs is limited, because only the Coast
                      Guard has been reporting them. As a result, Congress lacks information
                      about the amounts that DOD and the Secret Service have expended for
                      providing protection—including providing protection at nongovernmental
                      properties. This limits congressional efforts to ensure accountability for
                      these costs. The Secret Service does not have a policy in place that
                      defines and enforces reporting requirements, and DOD’s policy and
                      underlying instruction lack important details such as time frames for
                      reporting expenditures and a mechanism for ensuring that the required
                      information is submitted to Congress. DOD has initiated steps to develop
                      required reports but has not identified the specific steps it will take and
                      the time frames within which these efforts will be completed.


                      We are making one recommendation to the Director of the Secret Service
Recommendations for   and two to the Secretary of Defense.
Executive Action
                      The Director of the Secret Service should establish a policy defining
                      requirements for producing the semiannual reports of expenditures
                      required by the Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976, as
                      amended, and an oversight mechanism to ensure that the Secret Service
                      consistently submits these reports to specified congressional committees.
                      (Recommendation 1)

                      The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of
                      Defense for Policy updates its policy and instruction on providing support
                      to the Secret Service to define the requirements for producing semiannual
                      reports of expenditures required by the Presidential Protection Assistance

                      Page 26                                           GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
                  Act of 1976, as amended. These requirements should, at a minimum,
                  include (1) the steps and time frames for completing updates to the policy
                  and instruction, (2) time frames for reporting the expenditures, and (3) an
                  oversight mechanism to ensure that the Department of Defense
                  consistently submits these reports to specified congressional committees.
                  (Recommendation 2)

                  The Secretary of Defense should ensure that the Under Secretary of
                  Defense for Policy defines the steps, including time frames, necessary to
                  achieve near term reporting requirements under the Presidential
                  Protection Assistance Act of 1976, as amended, and submit the reports
                  as required. (Recommendation 3)


                  We provided a draft of this report for review and comment to the
Agency Comments   Executive Office of the President, and the Departments of Homeland
                  Security, Defense, Justice, and State. DHS and DOD provided written
                  comments, which are reproduced in appendixes I and II respectively. In
                  their comments, DHS and DOD concurred with their respective
                  recommendation(s).

                  DHS concurred with our first recommendation, which called for the Secret
                  Service to establish a policy defining requirements for producing the
                  semiannual reports of expenditures required by the Presidential
                  Protection Assistance Act of 1976, as amended, and an oversight
                  mechanism to ensure the Secret Service consistently submits these
                  reports to specified congressional committees. Specifically, the Secret
                  Service has recently updated several guidance documents related to the
                  Act. It further plans to publish a directive during fiscal year 2019
                  documenting the requirements for producing the semiannual reports and
                  defining the oversight mechanism to ensure that the reports are
                  consistently submitted.

                  DOD concurred with our second recommendation, which called for DOD
                  to update its policy and instruction on providing support to the Secret
                  Service to define the requirements for producing semiannual reports of
                  the expenditures required by the Presidential Protection Assistance Act of
                  1976, as amended.

                  DOD concurred with our recommendation that DOD define the steps,
                  including time frames, necessary to achieve near term reporting
                  requirements under the Presidential Protection Assistance Act of 1976, as
                  amended, and submit the reports as required.

                  Page 27                                           GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
DHS and DOJ also provided technical comments, which we incorporated
into the report as appropriate.

The Department of State and the Executive Office of the President had no
comments.

As agreed with your offices, unless you publicly announce the contents of
this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days from the
report date. At that time, we will send copies to the Executive Office of the
President; the Secretary of Homeland Security; the Director of the Secret
Service; the Commandant of the Coast Guard; the Secretary of Defense;
the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force; the Commandant of the
Marine Corps; the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; the Secretary of
State; and the Attorney General.

Consistent with section 10 of the Presidential Protection Assistance Act of
1976, this report is also being sent the Committees on Appropriations and
on the Judiciary, the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform, and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs. 41

In addition, the report is available at no charge on the GAO website at
http://www.gao.gov.




41
     Pub. L. No. 94-524, § 10.



Page 28                                            GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
If you or your staff have any questions concerning this report, please
contact Brian Lepore at (202) 512-4523 or leporeb@gao.gov or Diana
Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or maurerd@gao.gov. Contact points for our
Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found on
the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report are listed in
appendix III.




Brian J. Lepore
Director
Defense Capabilities and Management




Diana Maurer
Director
Homeland Security and Justice




Page 29                                             GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Appendix I: Comments from the Department
             Appendix I: Comments from the Department of
             Homeland Security



of Homeland Security




             Page 30                                       GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Appendix I: Comments from the Department of
Homeland Security




Page 31                                       GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Appendix I: Comments from the Department of
Homeland Security




Page 32                                       GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             Appendix II: Comments from the Department
             of Defense



of Defense




             Page 33                                     GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Appendix II: Comments from the Department
of Defense




Page 34                                     GAO-19-178 Presidential Travel
Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff
                   Appendix III: GAO Contact and Staff
                   Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                   Brian J. Lepore, (202) 512-4523, leporeb@gao.gov
GAO Contact        Diana Maurer, (202) 512-9627, maurerd@gao.gov


                   In addition to the contact named above, Gina R. Hoffman, Assistant
Staff              Director; Joseph P. Cruz, Assistant Director; Tracy Barnes, Kerstin
Acknowledgements   Hudon, Jennifer Kamara, Joanne Landesman, Carol Petersen, Michael
                   Silver, Janet Temko-Blinder, and John Wren made key contributions to
                   this report.




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