Another use for taxes: more legroom

Amy Scott Oct 3, 2007

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: I don’t begrudge anyone flying first class. If you or your company can afford it, it’s the way to go. But when tax dollars are being spent on more leg room and free drinks, then we could have a problem.

A Congressional report out this morning says government workers are routinely abusing the rules for first and business class tickets. It’s costing taxpayers $146 million a year. Marketplace’s Amy Scott has more.


Amy Scott: The Government Accountability Office looked at travel spending by more than a dozen federal agencies from July 2005 through June 2006. Investigators say 67 percent of premium-class travel during that period was either unauthorized or unjustified.

Mary Boyle is with the nonprofit watchdog Common Cause. She says she’s not surprised by the findings. A similar report four years ago exposed widespread abuses by the Defense Department.

Mary Boyle: It’s been a problem in the Pentagon, it has been a problem in the State Department also. So no, I wouldn’t say it’s a shock.

The report says even authorized travel adds up. One higher-up at the FDIC spent more than $7,000 to fly business class between Washington and London. A coach ticket would have cost 800 bucks.

In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.

$5/month special ending soon!

Don’t wait: there’s less than 24 hours left to get (almost) any Marketplace thank-you gift.