Department of Energy

Enable Federal Employees To Use Lowest Available Airfares

My suggestion could result in millions of dollars in savings associated with: lower air travel costs, avoided baggage fees, and avoided charges from travel vendors for making airline reservations.

 

I suggest you either require (preferred) or allow travelers to search for airfares on low-cost non-contract carriers such as Southwest Airlines out of airports within a reasonable driving distance and allow them to be reimbursed if they have to cancel reservations and the tickets were non-refundable. Currently, if you are not able to go through and get specific, separate approval for such a ticket, if you purchase a non-refundable ticket and then have to cancel or change your travel, you will not be reimbursed. It is cumbersome to require someone to have to keep going through supervisory authorizations to try to save the government money by using the non-contract carriers. You could designate a certain percentage difference between the contract and non-contract carrier that would have to be satisfied to allow an employee to independently book the ticket without need for a separate supervisory authorization. This could save a lot of money. For example, I can book a roundtrip ticket on Southwest for Columbus Ohio out of Nashville for less than $200. All I have to do is drive to Nashville. The roundtrip ticket out of my hometown airport on the contract carrier is over $1,000. The savings are quite substantial even taking into account airport parking and mileage to and from the airport. Not only are the airfares lower, but Southwest does not charge bag fees, so I am able to save the taxpayers the per bag charges which I could otherwise claim. There also is no charge for the travel vendor related to the reservations since the employee makes the reservations. I am willing to do this because I really do care about the taxpayers' dollars more than I care about my personal convenience. However, not all employees can be counted on to place such a high premium on the federal fisc over their own convenience. That is why I recommend requiring this (as opposed to making it optional) as the best bet for saving tax dollars.

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Idea No. 12219